Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Dear Persons,

We remember our most terrifying life experiences all too well, right? 

My first Middle School Orientation as a parent was one such moment for me. 

My son, “G,” is now 16. He is a super smart, autistic, kindhearted 10th grader. 

My daughter, “Z,” is 12. She is allistic, very, very clever, and has some residual attachment-disordered behavioral traits that actually serve her well in her brutal 6th grade milieu. 

Four years ago, I attended G’s Middle School orientation. This spring, I attended Z’s. The differences between the two experiences were remarkable: 

Then: Abject terror for my child.
Now: Mild concern for other kids since, how shall I say this, Z and her friends are “still developing this skill” of the skill of empathy. 

Then: Both children sitting with me. I'm so tense that my little guy — not the most observant kid on earth — is sensing my alarm, and my little gal — showing her rare and dear soft side — is noticing the tears streaming down my face; trying to keep it together for them and for my own dignity, such as it was. 

Now: Sitting solo. G at another event. Z up on the balcony with her girl posse, all small but mighty. Scornful expressions masking…nervousness? Nah. 

Then: Tears.
Now: Yawns. Have already seen this presentation. Plus, not worried. 

Then: Curiosity tending toward fretting: Will these new teachers really see my child? Will he succeed here on his own terms? Will my child be bullied during this awkward time of life? Will G’s learning differences be scaffolded in such a way that his intelligence can shine? 
Now: Curiosity, pure and simple: What will those teachers I was in close contact with for G think when they meet Z? Will my child be actively kind to “different” kids like her brother? Will Z make an effort to do better if getting decent grades is easy for her? Will her developmentally appropriate “attitude” be toned down in class? In the lunchroom?

Then: All-out trepidation about the changes, from multiple classrooms to teacher-specific homework assignments.
Now: Relief, knowing I won’t have to intervene or oversee Z constantly—vis-à-vis homework or anything else. 

Then: Organizing Team Friendly Face.
Now: Admonishing (“Please try to look a bit less haughty — there are students here who feel intimidated and scared”).

Then: Praying.
Now: Sighing. 

My special “expertise” has always been around having two very different kids, but these four-years-apart experiences encapsulated that reality for me in the most striking way. It’s nice to see in this latest iteration that from time to time I am able to avoid having a total panic attack when a total panic attack is not warranted (I’ve wondered about that). 

Then: Despite all that, my kids are alright. More than alright! 
Now: Ditto!

Then and now, I am grateful for these two precious beings and for the ways we all persist in growing and trying, together. 

Full Spectrum Mama

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo -- from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month's Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!


  1. Full Spectrum Mama! It's SO good to be back and reading your blog. I left the writing world for awhile, but I'm back and contributing to the blog hop. Feels amazing to be joining the writing community again. I love how you organized your post in a 'then' and 'now' format. Clever! I look forward to reading more. :)

    1. Thank you so much!

      Glad to have you back - and found your post very moving and wise.


  2. Well crafted post about the contrasting differences in your experience with each of your children. It's funny, Richie (my son with autism) is the youngest, so he's my "now." My oldest daughter - with no known disabilities is my "then!" But I still get to go through it again with my step-son who is now in middle school!!!

    1. Oh wow - maybe that will help? LOL. Unsure.

      Good luck in any case!

      Thanks and love,

  3. I am SO glad it has gone so well!!! I love catching up! Also excited you are writing a book! Thanks for stopping by my space the other day. I am curious if you have had the experiences that I wrote about in my most current post at all as a family or individually?

    1. Thank you dear!

      Will take a gander once am back from our family "vacation" (interesting concept with kids).

      Thanks and love,


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