I'm scared when I think about whether my son will have friends at school.
It's a lot for me to expect neurotypical 5- and 6-year-olds to know how to interact with a child who is nonverbal and gets around by crawling. Despite this challenge—whether due to his personality, birth order or disability—my son has a pretty healthy perspective on life. He likes the people who like him. Beyond that, he doesn’t really seek out much social engagement.
But I want more for him. I want people of his age to see him the way I see him. I want them to want to interact with him. I want him to have that social interaction that I can’t give him.
The good thing is that he’s got siblings who love him and don’t know him for his disability, but rather who he is as a person. He’s not “their brother with a disability,” he’s just their brother.
Is this too much to ask from kids in his class? Am I concerned for no good reason?
I think this is the most difficult part of being a parent of a child with a disability. I can deal with the isolation of losing friends. I’m fine with that. But I don’t want that for my son. I don’t want him to ever feel isolated. I want folks to know just how cool of a kid he really is.
The challenge is this entire thing of being totally responsible for his wellbeing. It’s having no control of what happens when he’s not with me. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent who constantly hovers. I want to give him freedom to be his own person. I just want the guarantee that he’s going to get what I think he deserves: friendship.
Most of my fears have nothing to do with my son specifically, but what I want for him.
And every time I go through this mental exercise, I return to one thought: He’s much stronger than I give him credit for. He's much stronger than I’ll ever be.
There is a lot more information available about sending your child with disabilities to school in the education and schools pages.
As a parent to a child with a disability, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month one parent shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the profession that is our life’s work. I did.