I am writing to tell you about my child. I want to tell you more about her, in the hope you will go the extra miles she is going to need from you.
My child is beautiful, kind, creative, smart and funny. When everything is right in her world she is bubbly and happy, a light shines in her eyes.
My child is very caring and nurturing especially to others with additional needs or children younger than herself.
My child is also about to be possibly one of the biggest challenges you will face in your teaching career. That is if you choose to fight for her.
You are lucky, you have a choice in all this my child doesn’t.
Many others who have come before you have chosen to exclude her. They take the easy way out.
I do understand why teachers exclude her.
You see my child suffers from crippling anxiety that manifests itself as motor and oral tics and behaviour that is at its worst extremely challenging. My child will shout and swear appearing very aggressive and intimidating when anxious. If you think of the exorcist film, that is the vision I saw playing in my head when I witnessed my child suffering at their worst. It is frightening and heartbreaking to watch especially if you don’t understand.
What you need to understand is first and foremost my child is just that a child.
You also need to understand they have no control over their anxiety or tics. In fact my child is every bit as frightened as you maybe in these difficult moments.
In these difficult moments I need you to remember how much my child is suffering.
Can you even begin to imagine how terrifying it is to have no control over your body or voice even just for a few seconds?
My child can suffer tic attacks lasting hours. These attack’s at their worst see my child struggle to sit on a chair, they cause her physical pain, they see her loose the ability to communicate what she wants to say, she can’t get her words out for vocal tics, these often include outbursts of offensive language.
I beg you please to look past the anxiety and tics.
I beg you to be patient and kind to my child even in difficult moments.
Please, please don’t punish her for ticking.
Please don’t be yet another teacher who refused to have my child in their class.
My child is suffering far more through all of this than you could understand.
Everyday my child gives up a little bit more on life. The sparkle in her eyes has been missing for months now. In its place dark circles surround her eyes.
My child has stopped going to activities she enjoys. My child comes home from school totally exhausted and broken day after day.
I am not sure how much longer she can carry on. I am frightened for her future.
I don’t know how she carries on. I went through my teenage years not knowing I am an Aspie. They were the worst years of my life, they were lonely and frightening. I didn’t have to cope with tics though. I was fully prepared for my child’s teenage years to be turbulent. The tics are a whole other kind of living hell neither myself or my child anticipated.
We have begged Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for help. We are still waiting. My child’s current ongoing crisis appears not desperate enough for intervention or support from them. I am so frustrated with this. My child doesn’t understand why no one will help her. She doesn’t understand why she is left to suffer.
My child frequently tells us she wishes she was dead.
My biggest fear is this is how she really feels and it is not simply a teenage over dramatic statement.
We suspect and have done for a long time my child has at least one undiagnosed nurodevelopmental disorder, we believe this the root cause of the extreme anxiety she battles constantly with. My child is an adept masker though and only those that really know her get to see the tell tale signs that something more is going on underneath it all.
This means my child needs you to be very direct with her.
My child needs you to be firm but fair.
My child needs you to be predictable.
In being these things your behaviour will offer my child reassurance, you will calm her anxiety.
Please also remember my child’s peers will be watching you closely, observing how you treat her. If you model patience and understanding for them they may demonstrate the same patience and understanding to my child.
Those who have given my child their time, patience and understanding have seen my child learn to relax. They will be rewarded for their efforts by seeing my child thrive.
My child is fighting several invisible battles every moment of every day. These are battles against sensory issues, communication difficulties, processing and memory issues.
Please don’t be another battle for her.
I am asking you to please fight for her and not against her.
A mother desperately trying to help their child.