Screw survival of the fittest.

27 Jan

Alex came home today, his face streaked with dirt, even his eyelashes and eyelids had streaks of black dust from the rubber playground mulch.

The kids in his class, most of them younger than Alex, gathered around and told my husband what happened, when he came to pick kiddo up from school.

The teacher didn’t say anything, so my husband asked and was told by the teacher and the principal that the kids were playing rough today and incident reports were written up.

The little kids weren’t so gentle in their telling of the happenings on the tiny, fenced playground, today.

The group of kids that were playing rough apparently shouted “Pot!” at Alex. He often mishears things, so we don’t know if they were actually calling him “Pot!” but he is upset about it. So he yelled back “Meatball” which he thought was a terrible thing to call someone, and appropriate if someone called a person a pot.

“GET HIM!” one child shouted, and ran after Alex. They tackled him and pushed him to the ground and started kicking him. When he tried to get up they pushed him down again, and kicked him some more.

He came home and they told me this. Alex was very matter-of-fact but he was also quick to change the subject, which is what he does when he is in more of a typical, traditional, stereotypical state of his autism. When things are new or different or he is nervous he lectures, factual and emotionless. Our little professor. So he went right into his dissertation and I tried to ease him back into the more interactive kid we have started seeing more frequently at home, when it is just the three of us and everything is calm.

“He’s not ok”, I said to hubby.

I asked Alex if he would like to take a bath to get all of the dirt off as he is not a kid who handles dirt well and it’s only recently that we can get him to not compulsively wash his hands between strokes on the paper with fingerpaints.

He said yes, and I got a washcloth to try to get some of the black dirt off his face, and we talked.

I asked where they kicked him, when they kicked him when he was on the ground, and he pointed at his chest and turned around gesturing at his back. He said “my spine” and “my back hurts”

I helped him take off his school shirt and there were black dirt foot prints that had sifted through his shirt, stamped onto his skin. Between his shoulderblades, on his lower back, on his chest.

He’s in the tub now, having a bubblebath.

I’m shaking. My heart hurts.

Tomorrow we have an appointment with his headmistress, we made the appointment awhile ago, but now it is more urgent and important than ever.

Something has to change. This could happen anywhere, but we would have more options up north. Here we are all stuck, and we are all feeling a bit downtrodden and frustrated and overwhelmed.

One of the number one issues we have these days, is that Alex cannot reliably pass information to us, at least not in a timely fashion. A year from now, he will mention today. Ten years from now he will mention today, and the playground, as though it just happened. I am grateful that the other kids in his class look out for him, they know he’s different but they don’t see that as a bad thing most of the time. He always forgets to grab his lunchbag from his seat when we pick him up, so another kid will bring it to me (or hubby) as soon as one of them spots us at the door. Then all of them say “Alex, your mama is here” to him, gently coaxing him to look up and focus and see us and his face lights up.

I don’t know what happened on the playground today.

I know we will never know what happened on the playground today. I know that school won’t let us see the tape. I do know it was more than playing rough. Alex said the kids were bigger than he is. I have a feeling the set up for today’s incident was thoughtlessness and carelessness. It’s a small playground, the classrooms are mixed ages, but blending those mixed ages with the next age group up, on the playground, with non-too-diligent observation by staff, is not wise, even from a layperson’s perspective. I realize that Alex isn’t necessarily a complete innocent and I know we will be working intensively with him on this stuff throughout his life, but I also know that nothing should ever get this out of hand, in a 500 square foot playground, with supposed supervision. Kids fight, I know. But a bunch of kids chasing another child (who is 5 and small for his age and different from them…which may be why they were targeting him to begin with…) is unacceptable.

Screw survival of the fittest, this is my kid.

But I feel like this horrible thing reinforces the care and support he needs and that we need, and will hopefully open a discussion that will help all of the children in the school.

We were going into our meeting to see how all of us could work together for Alex’s benefit. Now I feel we have to fight for a basic need of all of the children, so they can learn in safety and in peace.

I need to calm myself, meditate, write down our game plan for talking to the principal tomorrow.

Perhaps we will have a more focused path after the discussion tomorrow.

I can hope though, that’s all I’ve got right now. Hope and Alex.

7 Responses to “Screw survival of the fittest.”

  1. whatchamacalit January 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Greetings, I am so sorry about what happened to your son. I don’t think I would have been nearly as graceful about the whole thing. I think your son deserves to be treated with respect no matter what. I certainly hope you can work with the school so that this kind of thing is never allowed. It is inexcusable that a child not be safe at his own school.

  2. Jewel January 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    I am so sorry that happened to your son. The school is obligated to keep your child safe. I would involve the authorities. Its just not right.

  3. carrie January 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    ARGH!!!!!!!!! I am STEAMING MAD!!!!!! This is unexeptable, this should not happen anywhere!!!! Silly words or not, where were his teachers, this is not OK!!!!!!!!!
    You tell Alex, Carrie, from NJ, thinks he’s very cool, and those kids are Meatballs…..


  4. Bek January 27, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Thanks everyone…

    I was mad and sad before, but spending the afternoon with him it appears that the last few months of intensive work we have done with him have disappeared into the abyss. I hope he gets a good night of nourishing and refreshing sleep and is doing better in the morning.

    Every symptom is in abundance right now, and not in a sunshiny everyone is different and Asperger’s is just another way of being and experiencing the world kind of way…This is the sort of thing where I don’t even know if he will be safe at school tomorrow without the factor of the other kids, because he has this horrible deafness and a complete lack of fear….

    I’m taking a break so hubby can do homework with him for a bit, but it doesn’t sound like that is happening today. He can’t even be in the bathroom alone right now because he is trying to climb in the sink (and he has my grace…that fall would not be kind as it’s all tile and cultured marble in this condo)…

    It’s like he’s gone from a 5 year old with Asperger’s to a 2 year old who got into the candy and the coffee and can’t hear anything anyone says.

    His collection of little fears and phobias and being “ground bound” were saving graces for me when he was younger, as it limited what he could and would explore, so he was typically safe from falls and the sort… So this is odd behavior….

    Going to watch a movie with him in a few…If we can get him to calm down enough… Maybe I’ll try the weighted vest (sounds weird, but it helps…recommended by his occupational therapist and very helpful) if he’ll wear it.

    Sat him down for a time out – which in our home is not a punishment but a time to focus- wrote down some rules…Trying to find out if he had any signs they were going to hurt him, but he said their faces were happy when they kicked him. He said “the bad kids were happy they hurted me”… Oh my freaking heart and soul and my old bones hurt…

    Hugs all around…

  5. Teri Baskett January 27, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    This is terrible and you should DEMAND to see those tapes—and meet with all the kids WITH their parents. Bullying is heightened when there is a gang of kids involved, and I swear, they feed off each other! They need to know exactly what they did and how difficult it is for your son….isn’t it terrible that the school would downplay this??? Teri

  6. Lady Bracknell's Editor January 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    Oh, Bek, I am SO sorry.

    Poor little mite.

    If he will accept one, give him a hug from his British auntie.

  7. Janice Fraser January 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Dear clevergirl, I saw your art on etsy and as another clevergirl (who used to have a company named “clevergirl industries”, and whose family lives in south florida), I wanted to see your blog. And I found this post.

    My heart breaks for your boy and the terrible playground bullies he’s endured. I’m a mom of a first grader and I would want to rip apart that school and those bullies and the inattentive teachers.

    I know that nothing I can say that will make it better, but perhaps there’s some strength in knowing that someone with totally coincidental connections to you cares. He will be ok. Your love and support is the number one most important thing. If the school can’t maintain a respectful atmosphere, I hope you can find another school. What happened to your boy is inexcusable.

    With much love and support
    — another clevergirl.

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