The Fear is Real

To say that our last school year was painful for my son, Ricochet, and myself, would be a gross understatement. He was so totally misunderstood by teachers and staff at the charter school he attended that it got to the point where he began harming himself at school to try to get picked up early and flee the discomfort. Every teacher and administrator Ricochet dealt with felt certain that his above-average intelligence meant he could do everything they asked him to do and more, despite having ADHD, dysgraphia, and anxiety (he also has autism, but the diagnosis didn’t come until a couple weeks after the school year ended).

He and I both constantly heard,

“I know he can do more…”

“When we push him he produces more…”

He’s smart enough to do this successfully.”

When you are constantly told you are fully capable, yet you can’t meet expectations no matter how hard you try, you are going to feel like crap. And you’re going to do everything you can to flee that situation. You’d think that’s common sense…

Of course, we are not sending Ricochet back to such a heinous environment for a student with special needs. In fact, I filed an official complaint with our state department of education’s exceptional children’s office. While my son won’t be subjected to the harm that comes with their ignorance any longer, charter schools are magnets for different kids and I want someone with authority to tell them they must treat kids with special needs better.

So, for the last two months, I’ve felt some relief knowing that Ricochet will not be going back to that charter school’s hell, and I’ve tried to not think about school at all and just take some time to exhale.

Now the countdown begins. School starts in two weeks, 43 hours and 39 minutes, and that realization has spurred a tidal wave of fear and panic for me. While I feel good about the conversations I’ve had with his new special ed teacher so far, and Ricochet is feeling good, even optimistic, about attending the public middle school, I can’t help but be terrified. History has taught me that failure is more likely in this arena than success, leading to momma PTSD.

I know I’m not alone in the fear that builds as the days until school starts diminish. I bet you have it too. All we can do though, is get as prepared as we can and rely on hope to see us into the unknown. I’m cautiously optimistic, but that little pang of terror is trying to be heard too.

This is the first in a series on managing back to school for parents of kids with ADHD and/or autism. Next, I’m going to talk about how to effectively introduce your child to their new teachers. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the site via email (top of the sidebar)so you don’t miss any of these helpful tips.

The Fear is Real: Back to School with ADHD and/or Autism

Author: Penny Williams

Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD: Boy Without Instructions, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, and The Insider’s Guide to ADHD Penny is the current editor of ParentingADHDandAutism.com, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.