Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To send or not to send, that is the question

Education, I take the education of my children very seriously.  Without an education it is very difficult to be successful in this country.  In fact, I read a statistic that stated more people in America believe the moon landing was a fake than believe you can become middle class with only a high school education.  We want all our children to do well in school and we want them all to go off to college.  Plus, since we have four children, hopefully they will be bright enough to get scholarships to help with college.

We demand a lot out of our children in school.  The two who are there should do well, they should be getting all A's and B's, which they are.  We know where a B is acceptable and we know where they should have a A.  We always want to be a part of their education.  We want to know what they are learning and what we can do to help them learn.

We have toyed with the thought of homeschooling for a while.  Honestly, before we even had kids I had this romantic ideal of me with a pile of kids all working together on their education, they would be excited to learn, we would have fun with it.  Then I had kids - kids who all talk at the same time and all fight with each other.  The reality of what it would really be - me trying to teach them while they are all fighting with each other and screaming that they can't learn because the other child(ren)'s heart is making too much noise while it is beating.  Overly dramatic girls who love to make noise and a very intolerant son who demands to be the center of attention.

The last couple of years have been challenging for us, to say the least.  Gabe is getting older.  In his mind he is even more different than other children his age and he doesn't like it.  He takes all forms of criticism to heart and it upsets him.  He comes home every night angry and lashes out at everyone.  Weekends are him being angry because on Monday he has to return to school.  Summers are so pleasant, school time is terrible.

This year has been the worst of all.  Initially he seemed to have the easiest time with the transition from Buckley to FishHawk.  He was excited by all the other kids (ie, hot girls) around him.  Then the first couple of weeks ended and the reality hit.  Now, he has about 10 kids that he gets along with and 1400 kids who laugh at him and make fun of him.

So here we are, living in FishHawk, the best schools in the county.  The day is usually pretty happy, until 4:30.  Everyday at 4:30 the front door slams and the words, "SHUT UP EVIE!" are screamed at the threshold of pain (even if she isn't even home).  The bag is thrown, and the yelling starts.  Somebody did something in gym/lunch, and he has a ton of homework, and lunch was bad, and it is hot out, and why do the twins have to be so loud, and what ever I am making for dinner is disgusting. . . . for the next two to three hours this is what we hear, then for the remaining 2 hours of the night he is very loudly talking about cars and his hair while he is screaming at Evie and the twins for everything they do that might make him not the center of attention.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking, "Dang, what a brat.  You need to spank/timeout/punish him."  First - we do punish him.  He loses his 1 hour of game time a night.  He has to do chores for negativity.  We have spanked him (but we don't like to).  He has to stand in the corner.  I have even had him put a bar of soap in his mouth for a minute.  Most of this stuff doesn't work.  I know, you say, "Of course it works, you must be doing it wrong."  Well, for Gabe it usually just makes it worse.  Gabe is autistic, and unless you have had experience dealing with kids who are autistic you really don't get it.  Gabe is very high functioning.  He is in regular classes - actually he is in honors classes - but Gabe is autistic.

During the summer 95% of these behaviors are gone.  He is pleasant, for the most part.  He plays.  He reluctant helps around the house.  He still fights with his sisters, but not like when school is going on.

Lately he has been telling us more and more about what is going on at school.  Gabe is in middles school this year - 6th grade, but a 6th grade middle school.  Life has not been fun.  Gabe is in all the regular classes, but like I said, Gabe is autistic.  He talks VERY LOUD, even when he isn't meaning to.  He ALWAYS sounds angry, even when he is happy.  He has never been able to make the tone of his voice match what he is feeling (except anger - because his tone is always nasty and angry).  He has ticks with his hands.  He has a throat grunt that he makes.  He blinks a lot when he is nervous.  When he gets very nervous he picks his nose and . . . well. . . he eats it.  Nothing we have done, no counselors he has seen, have helped him with these things.  So now he is in middle school.  A large middle school.  With kids who haven't grown up with him and grown accustomed to his Gabe-ism's since 1st grade. 

School is a nightmare for him.  He is called gay.  He is laughed at for his clothing and shoes.  He is laughed at for his hair.  He is laughed at because we are his parents.  He has been hit/pushed.  He is forced to do other humiliating things like crawl between people's legs and be slapped on the bum.  He is taunted for his weight.  Every lunch time he is laughed at because he eats in the first place.  His name is a source of endless taunting, "Gable is a Gay Bull".   He is told he will have his throat cut in his sleep.  He is jumped on by boys and screamed at, "I rapped you, you faggot."   We have gone to the school, and that always just makes it worse (the kids always figure out who it was that "told" on them).

Every day it is worse and worse.  Every day he comes home angrier and angrier.  Every day his already low self-esteem just seems to get lower and lower.  Every day he is meaner and meaner to his sisters.  And every day our home life is worse than the one before.  It is like this terrible cancer that is destroying our family.  So, like if we were to physically find cancer in our body we will removing this cancer from hour home.

At this point I only see two ways to cut this cancer from our lives - 1 - send Gabe off to military school so that he isn't with us, or 2 - don't send him to school next year.  We don't want to send Gabe away.  We love him.  He is our family, so we don't see that as a viable option.  So that leaves us with not sending him to school next year.  Gabe needs an education, and we do realize that a huge part of Gabe's education is his socialization.  That is what makes this hard - where do you draw the line?  Where do you say, "This is doing more damage than good?"  Gabe is the type of person who would happily never leave the house or interact with another human in a day.  He has to learn how deal with people.  He has to learn how to survive in society.  At some point he will have leave our home and get a job and work in society.

So here we sit - trying to figure out what to do.  Send Gabe back to Randall next year, and just hope it will get better (it is middle school, it won't get better), or just chuck it and home school him until high school.  I am pretty sure I could home school him.  I have a BS and I did fairly well in school.  It is middle school, not high school, so the math and science should be fine.  What did we really learn from middle school anyway?  I know what I learned was that I was a greasy piece of garbage that was worth-less.  It was in middle school that it was pointed out that my parents being fur buyers was "worse" than if my parents were on welfare.  It was in middle school where it was pointed out to me that I was fat, ugly, and had big boobs and terrible teeth.  In middle school I learned that I should do my best to be invisible, because when people noticed me I was made fun of.   No, Gabe is not me and I know that.  I would shrink away and happily never be noticed(even at home), Gabe keeps it in and than comes home and EXPLODES.  My fear is this, at what point will his explosion cause him to harm himself?

We do realize we can't protect him from the world.  People can be mean and terrible creatures.  People have been known to not accept those they see as different.  There are many times we see his autism as a gift (he is so bright and high functioning - he really has the world open to him), but we realize that he will be autistic for life and people will be making fun of him for the rest of his life.  He needs to learn how to deal with it.  Then again, at what point do you see that the harm that is being done now may cause him to close off his own future?

So again, here we sit, trying to figure out what to do.  We know this is a catch 22.  Their are issues with no matter what we do.  We know that many people will not agree with the decision we are about to make.  We know this will be difficult, but looking forward we have to do what is right for Gabe, and for our family.  We are hoping the decision we are about to make will help him and allow him to become a successful adult, because we know he is smart enough to go off and do whatever he puts his mind to but we have to get him past this portion of his life without imploding.  Our decision is made a little easier when  we think back to that morning two years ago.  That terrible morning that started out fine, and then turned to Gabe getting upset.  That day when I had to pretty much pretty much drag him away from that gun under the bed, carry him to the car, and drag him to the hospital.  That day, sitting in the suicide room I told myself we would never, EVER get to this point again.  I will do everything I can do in my power to keep him from being so unhappy that the only option he saw that was available to end  his pain was to end his life.

What is better, being schooled the way everyone else is being schooled yet being so miserable you can't take it anymore, or being schooled from your kitchen and missing out on that much needed socialization but actually being happy and relaxed?  At this point I know what we are going to choose.  Hopefully public high school kids and their increased maturity will be better to Gabe, because I refuse to make him spent the next two years going through the hell he is currently going through.  What did you really learn from middle school anyway?

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