I think that I can safely say that Matt was the first autistic child in our small, rural public school. Special Ed classrooms were a futuristic concept. Well, the future smacked them right in the face when my brother walked through the door. They had to develop a new classroom without the space to do it. Someone had the brilliant idea of splitting the library in half and making the other half the special Ed room. The bookshelf divided the two rooms. Right next to the bookshelf was a huge box, the naughty box. When my class went to check out books, my brother was in that box kicking and screaming. The kids laughed, pretty damn funny, right? Despite everything I still love books.
Recess was the same. They threw everyone out on the playground together. There was a group of older girls that would follow him around mocking his motions and calling him retard. He used to flap his hands together and make a motion that was like running in place, we called it flapping.
Ironically, my mom received her college degree in a field where she works directly with disabled children. She worked in the field before I was born. She became a very strong advocate and support for other families going through hard times. I am so proud that she is still working full time as she is entering her late 60’s. Still advocating, making a difference, and finding true compassion that can only happen from living it.
As Matt got older, the school could not handle his extremely violent behavior. They basically kicked him out. Just like my last blog, swearing in church, he became entirely home bound. The school sent a retired schoolteacher to the house to educate him. My mom had to really cut back her hours at work. She decided that since Matt was pulled out of school that she would pull the rest of us out too. I was homeschooled from 8th through 10th grade. I will save that for another blog, those experiences I never shared with anyone who didn’t know about it…