I jotted the following story down about a week ago hoping to release my negative feelings by placing them on paper. After all, my energies are better spent on moving forward then looking back. After re-reading what I wrote I decided to share my experience with you. Hopefully someone out there can appreciate it.
I absolutely love my sons’ Tiny Tigers Taekwondo class which caters to a variety of three through six year old. It is a highlight of the week for both the students and parents, but this morning’s class was made sour for me.
As all of the children began to excitedly filter out of the changing rooms and prepare to begin class I was happy to see an old college classmate come in with her family. Once the children had begun class we struck up a conversation. She indicated that she was nervous about her sons ability to participate in the class for his first time because he has Aspergers. As a show of support several of the parents shared that their children have developmental disorders and delays. When I mentioned that my oldest son has Sensory Processing Disorder (it’s looking like my youngest will soon be diagnosed too, but that’s a story for another day) she proceeded to ask me “Are you sure he is not autistic?” Knowing that this woman is a Special Education Teacher and probably only meant well I graciously said “Yes, I’m sure”. She then proceeded to ask me again “Are you sure? You know kids with Sensory Processing Disorder are usually autistic.” I again told her “Yes, I’m sure” and “a lot of individuals who have Sensory Processing Disorder are not autistic”. She proceeded to explain to me that no way would we ever be able to get an IEP or services for my son (Huh, that’s funny. He has an IEP, participates in an inclusive co taught classroom, and receives occupational and physical therapy at school). SPD is really nothing. She has parents come into school and request services for SPD and without some other real thing you can’t do anything. Sobered from my usual Taekwondo high and saddened I simply said “Well he is lucky to be in a school district that takes his needs and education very seriously”.
This woman may have only meant well, but the whole encounter made my hair stand on end and I just can’t stop thinking about it. YUCK!
I do have to say that looking back for just a moment it occurs to me how ironic this whole conversation was. As she spoke so forcefully to me in front of the whole group of Tiny Tiger parents unknown to her was the fact that out of the six Tiny Tigers in class that day five have SPD and only one of those five is on the autism spectrum. I guess educating others about SPD is important even when you are dealing with individuals you think would be well informed.