I began to sink down into my cold chair as the Autism Parents began to go around the room and simultaneously share how they had each been tormented in school by other students. Suddenly the memories of my school years began to play on in my mind.
I was back in 7th grade and reminded of Wesley. I could clearly see him push up his coke bottle glasses onto the bridge of his nose. The lenses were about 1/3 of an inch thick and seemed to drastically magnify the size of his eyes. I could hear his slurred speech as he sat there at the lunch table cursing and slamming his hand down repeatedly as he spit with each word yelling at the boys to stop picking on him. I could see myself release a slight chuckle.
In school I wasn't the one that was picked on. I was the girl that hung out with the kids that did the picking. Making myself unable to relate to these parents sharing their stories. At the end of the meeting I was left with my memories and the guilt that was weighing so heavily on my heart.
I have been away from blogging for a bit trying to collect my composure again after finally having my toddlers officially diagnosed here in Missouri. What I didn't expect in all of this was my son being diagnosed with moderate Autism versus a high functioning Autism and that in addition to a Severe Autism Diagnosis that my daughter would be diagnosed with mild Mental Retardation. It gives a whole new meaning to the word "retard" that we hear so commonly and casually thrown around amongst the ignorant with limited vocabulary skills. It puts a face on the word. It puts my daughters face on it. My sweet little 2 year old baby girl's face.
For some reason I have always had difficulty looking at my daughter without being reminded of Wesley. It breaks my heart to think of the ridicule and the bullying that awaits her in her future. My daughter starts school this year. So I went and bought her American Eagle clothes, the best shoes and the cutest hair flowers. Expensive Brand name clothes that we can barely afford amidst their therapies. Clothes that she will inevitably grow out of in 6 months all in the hopes that it could make the tiniest difference in her getting picked on by other kids.
I wish I could go back. Don't we all? Don't we all wish that we could go back and change something in our lives? This poor boy that didn't stand a chance amongst our cruel words, our lack of compassion and maturity. I wish I could go back and do things differently. I wish I could go back and apologize, to give him a hug and become his friend. Even after that, it still wouldn't be enough. Not enough to make up for never having said anything. Not enough for laughing. It will be the guilt that I will be reminded of each and every time my daughter gets picked on for being different.
She has me to be her best friend, to be her advocate, to be her mother and to protect her the best that I can. After that, all I can do is pray that Heavenly Father will be there with her to watch over her the rest of the way.