Just when I thought everything was going well and we were heading in the right direction, I was reminded why I should never get complacent. I haven’t even finished the process of getting Elliott transferred to the online academy. I’m waiting to get a letter from his therapist, and that should be all we need to make the switch. I wasn’t expecting this, but I felt like I managed it well and quickly found a path forward.
Life took a turn this morning. Out of nowhere, Emmett had a complete emotional breakdown. When I managed to get him calmed down enough to talk about it, I learned that he’s struggling to cope with school. He said there were too many people and it was too loud. He has a hard time focusing, and it’s overwhelming him.
I was caught off guard because I was under the impression that everything was going well. He seemed happy and excited to be there. He’s made some friends and wanted to try out for bowling. We just recorded a podcast episode about this transition, and I had no clue what he was actually feeling. I asked him why he didn’t tell me he was struggling. His answer was like a swift kick in the gut and a reminder that I have to be more careful in how I express myself.
Emmett didn’t tell me about this because he knew how proud I was of him and how excited I was to see him in a typical, mainstream environment. This poor kid was afraid of disappointing me. To say that I feel horrible would be an understatement. This just goes to show some of the communication challenges that can arise when trying to communicate with an autistic child effectively. He noted how excited I was that he was trying out for the bowling team. He didn’t want to take that away from me, so he thought he would just suffer through it.
I explained to him that I didn’t care if he tried out or not. I was excited because he seemed happy. I was excited because I thought he was excited. I went on to tell him that I was not disappointed at all. I only want him to be happy, and if this school is too much, we need to find a better option for him.
All I could do was try and comfort him. I wanted to make sure he knew that I was not upset or disappointed in him. I only want to do what’s best for him, and if that means we need to make a change, we make a change.
This is a perfect example of me getting too comfortable and forgetting that no matter how well my kids are doing, they can still be struggling on the inside. I can’t believe I missed this, and I’m honestly not happy with myself. Just because I don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I feel like I let him down, but I know that I was doing my best and what matters now is that I get this addressed ASAP.
Currently, the path forward is to move him to the online academy with Elliott. Sending them back to their old school is not an option because I don’t feel it will prepare them for the real world. With the online academy through his current high school, he can still participate in clubs and sports. He really does want to try out for bowling, and this option will remove him from the source of stress and still allow him to get some really important experiences.
I’ve been texting with his therapist today, and I emailed his guidance counselor to start the process. I would rather not be dealing with this right now because I have to focus on Gavin and his needs while still keeping up with the influx of business. Now I need to triage once again and adjust my immediate priorities, but that’s all part of life and being a parent.
Emmett seems relieved that this is out in the open now, and I know what’s happening. Communication is so important, especially when your kids can sometimes struggle with communication. Love, empathy, and patience go a long way.
It felt really good to write about this because I can leave it here, walk away, and be in a better place to actually deal with what I need to deal with. 🙂