Tuesday, August 9, 2016


This post is a sequel to MIDDLE SCHOOL PRAYERS. I revisited that post while preparing this one, and found that it’s pretty much 100% still relevant.

Similarly, I would use the same disclaimer: basically: please feel free to substitute institutions (workplace? family? elementary school?), gender (I’ve occasionally written “he” because the child in question is my son, but I mean these prayers to be INCLUSIVE), labels, and language (God? Great Spirit? Goddess? People?) that feel right to you if you feel moved to share these prayers.

Dear Universe,

Thank you for my child’s safe passage through Middle School with our sanity relatively intact. If it’s not too greedy, I would like to add on to my Middle School Prayers list. Following, please find a number of additional Prayers more specific to High School:

1. May my child not get lost in a larger setting. 

2. May my child not get anybody pregnant (for biological                 girls, please substitute “get pregnant”).

3. May I dole out the RIGHT amount of freedom to                     my child.

4. May my child always know deep down how much he                   (she) is loved.

Pretty simple requests -- and all probably shared by most parents and guardians of High Schoolers-to-be, right?

Yet, as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum with sensory processing differences (SPD), each Prayer has multiple layers for my family, as they must for so many families with significant differences. Please, dear readers and dear Universe, allow me to elaborate –

1. About the not-getting-lost bit. My child is one of the deepest, smartest people I know. He can read ANYTHING. But write? Not so much. Focus? Similar, unless we are discussing a special interest. Dyspraxia, SPD, and a general lack of executive function make mainstream school environments and requirements highly challenging for my child.

Add in a major life transition, a much larger student body, and MUCH less in-class paraprofessional support, and we have what feels to me like a perfect recipe for my child getting lost, falling between the cracks, getting shunted through...

During the High School Transition Meeting, when his case manager kept saying, “We see that all the time” to concerns raised by his Middle School Team, it did feel reassuring, but it also felt like G was being stereotyped. Like any child, G is an individual and I hope for him to continue to be seen as one in High School. I’m not sure yet what “success” will look like for my G – will he reach his academic potential in this setting? will he want and/or be able to go to college? – but I want him to have the chance to reach for it. I want him to know he is known.

Dear Universe, may our children find their own healthy, rewarding ways of learning, growing, and interacting in High School. May they be treated fairly, and may they be accepted and cared about for who they truly are by staff, teachers, and their fellow students.

2. Re: pregnancy.You know how all teenagers have lots and lots of hormones and very, very little sense? Well, imagine all the hormones with way less sense than that, even. Kind of makes ya nervous, right?

Then, dear Universe, we are on the same page. May our children have the opportunity to continue being children just a while longer, please.

3. Freedom. The vast majority of parents fully expect their children to be independent at some point. A small minority know with certainty that their child will never live on his or her own. We are in-between, and it’s a tough place to be. I want to do right by my child, who is still in the very beginning stages of developing life skills like judgment, executive function, common sense, perseverance. I want to respect him – and he’s very worthy of that respect, with all his wonderfulness and brilliance and perfection (said his mom). But I also need to make sure he doesn’t make irredeemable mistakes while these life skills are still emerging. And I need to be vigilant for the long term should some of those skills never emerge.

The transition into High School feels like the first time I will really, finally need to begin to actually figure out how our family will tackle these weighty issues.

Will G ever drive? I’m not sure. Should he? Probably not, at least any time soon! (I didn’t drive until my late thirties...) Will he desperately want to? Probably.

Will G ever be able to live on his own? Probably not without some help, whether from a case manager or partner. But I am not sure! He’s surprised me before with huge developmental and personal growth. I know he envisions an independent life for himself, but I also know he has no idea what that would entail. I’ll need to begin looking into guardianship options fairly soon if it seems like he won’t live on his own.

There are significant financial resources for some people with some disabilities. Would G feel insulted by the suggestion that he cannot create his own success on neurotypical world terms or glad to be able to focus on his interests? The huge part of me that has enormous respect for G dreads even raising this matter with him. Yet...when he tells me things like “there’s no reason to cut toenails” or I watch him approximate his idea of how a chore really should be done – and he has many original ideas about regular stuff like this every day – I cannot imagine him keeping a job or household. If he doesn’t “get it,” he’s not interested – so I imagine the key in the long term will be for him to be invested in daily life in such a way that such things as cutting toenails (and other hygiene matters), paying bills, putting in time earning a living, etc. will make sense and feel compelling to him on a level where he can achieve these basic skills. Here’s hoping High School will instill some good habits in this regard.

And then there’s the question of what will happen to him after I am gone if he can’t live on his own post-High School and into adulthood, which is the deepest, most constant fear of all of us with children (including grown children) who can’t necessarily navigate the neurotypical world in typical ways.

Whew – I am glad High school is four years long!

Dear Universe, may my child always have a safe home – where he learns, where he lives - where he is free to be himself.

4. On Love: Recently, my behavior generally gets interpreted by my teen in one of two ways: I am either invasive and embarrassing (smothering) or I’m uncaring and have hurt his feelings (abandonment). I can’t win. This is developmentally appropriate (see above hormones, lack of sense, etc.), but the combination of extra social and academic challenges he will experience make his feeling consistently loved even more of a priority. This, even as his interpretations and perspective are inflected by different ways of interpreting/perceiving my intentions, feelings, and actions - and those of others around him. It remains to be seen how this dynamic will play out in High School.

Dear Universe, despite his developmentally-appropriate sour attitude and unique, quirky ways of processing interactions, may my child know he is loved – enormously – exactly as he is as he makes his way into and through High School.

Dear Universe, for all the children privileged to be going back to school, and for ALL children, I wish these good things and more.  

Full Spectrum Mama

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!