Sunday, May 17, 2009
Update From the Wolf Den: The Greatest Burden
Asperger's hurts from the inside out. Like most parents raising a kid with AS, I know Wolf has been treated unkindly by others. I have tried with only minimal success to keep him from such torment, but as he grew and demanded his own independence, Wolf entered the bitterly cruel world of social networking in the most real sense. And I only knew the half of it.
What I will share tonight is a broad brush description of incidents that have occurred over the course of Wolf's school years. I won't go into details; what actually happened isn't nearly as important as the pain embedded into my son's very soul, and thus, mine.
Therapist B. and I have long suspected Wolf endured experiences that have lodged themselves into his mind. Kids, as we all know, can be cruel. I think I've heard that phrase at least a thousand times since Wolf started Kindergarten, but never before has its meaning seared itself so sharply into my consciousness.
In a session this morning that took my breath away with its poignancy and nearly knocked me to my knees with guilt, our son breathed but a whisper of the reality of being different.
We as parents like to think we are our children's best advocates; Asperger's provides a cruel irony to childhood bullying in that we sometimes need to over-advocate in order to get teachers and parents to understand without a doubt what disorder we are dealing with and how to manage it successfully in a school setting. Clearly, based upon Wolf's experiences, somebody failed. Miserably.
Kicked in the head "accidentally" during soccer games, snapped with wet towels in the locker room while being teased insufferably for a skinny body, chased with icy snowballs, humiliated by peers who led my son to believe they were his "friends". And ignored, as if he did not exist at all, merely a shadow in the hallway.
B. asked Wolf to think of his worst day at school and describe it. Without missing a beat, my son raised his head, looked directly at the therapist, and broke both of our hearts with his definitive response.
To the boy who I used to tease in grade school, the one who used to try to win friends by bringing stickers from his dad's vacuum shop, who we used to tease until his face was red and tears made his glasses fog up:
I'm sorry. I'm so, so, sorry. In the name of my own son who now holds these memories so tightly against his heart, forgive me.
Forgive all of us.