In 2005, I gave birth to a tiny scrap of human, my second kid, who came into this world in one hell of a hurry, but has never done anything in a hurry ever since.
When he was small, he did the things the was meant to do on time, more or less, he sat up, he crawled, he walked, he talked. We didn’t think we had any problems with him: his older sister had some issues with things that took up more of our attention and to this day i still feel kind of guilty that we ‘missed’ something.
Our first inkling that things weren’t quite as they should be was when he reached 4 and we noticed he would stammer when trying to talk, like it was difficult for him to find the words he was trying to say, we raised it with school who said it was a pretty common developmental thing where children often talk ‘faster’ than their brain and it needs time to catch up but they would get the speech and language therapist in to assess him anyway. That assessment happened on his 5th birthday, and little did we know that this would be the beginning of years of assessments, tests, meetings and interventions for him.
Fast forward 6 years and The Boy is now 11. He has diagnoses of severe dyslexia, and Specific Language Impairment among others. What this means in practical terms is that he finds understanding language in context difficult, he struggles to ‘get’ jokes, he’s not always sure of when its appropriate to speak and what is acceptable to say: If he wants to tell you something, he will and he will be very blunt and honest about it. He can’t always find the words he wants to use, he has a number of ‘stock’ phrases that he’ll use when he’s not sure of the right response ‘no, i’m good’ is one that is used a lot. He’s TERRIBLE at remembering names of things or people…He has children who’ve been in his class for 6 years and still struggles to remember their names. He’s very bright in lots of ways, and has great imaginative ideas, his spatial awareness is amazing, he’s pretty good at maths, but his literacy is way below where it should be and the recent SAT’s test were a farce as far as he is concerned. He can’t read independently, so it was quite literally a waste of his time.
So as you can imagine, the world is often a confusing, scary place for him and as a consequence he suffers pretty extreme anxiety. If you see him walking about, more often than not he has his hood up and he doesn’t engage with people. This is his defence mechanism against a world he often doesn’t understand and the actions of others that upset, and sometimes anger him.
But, he’s also the sweetest, kindest kid going. This is the kid who spent our whole holiday last summer worried that our pet tortoise was ok. Who is gentle and kind and has so much time for little children. who often will come and make sure I’m ok, just because. Who once decided to give his cinema treat money to a homeless man because he was horrified to learn that some people don’t have houses.
So when I hear that other kids are picking on him and calling him ‘stupid’ and that he ‘talks funny’, my blood boils and my hackles raise. I understand that children argue, and I know my children are far from perfect or blameless in arguments every time, so I generally will say to ignore mean people and its their problem, not his. But calling anyone stupid,ever, is not ok in my book. Its a mean, hurtful, deliberately nasty word. And for a child with learning difficulties and social anxiety issues, it can mean the difference between wanting to go to school and not. It can mean the difference between a day where he feels good about himself, and one where he comes home and says there isn’t any point because he’s ‘stupid’. Its bad enough that these sodding tests are designed to make any child who isn’t the best academically feel shit, without incidents like these.
So I guess the point of this rant is that just because someone looks ‘normal’ and on the surface doesn’t seem like they have a disability…the truth can be very different. Lets all try and teach our children and ourselves that no one is ‘stupid’. And if i have to pick between a kid who is ‘stupid’ and one who is mean? Well…… I know which my kid is and how proud he makes me every day. We could all learn something from someone who once told me before bed ‘I hope everyone has good dreams tonight, everyone should have good dreams, even nasty people, because then they might wake up happier’.
I also want to take a quick minute to thank everyone who has liked and shared and made nice comments about my blog! I wish I wasn’t as technostupid, as I’ve discovered some fantastic writing out there and I promise once I figure out how, I will return the favour! Also to all the lovely people on facebook who’ve done the same. It completely blows my mind that anyone would want to read my random ramblings. So thanks everyone!