Back-to-school season often comes with a touch of the bittersweet to me. My son Charlie is 15 and “technically” a sophomore. But he’s not really in a grade. Charlie is on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum and attends a county autism center where he’s in a secondary level class.
But back-to-school is ultimately a time to celebrate how far Charlie’s come and to reflect on how we’ve learned to support and help him over the years. When your child is “different” — on the autism spectrum, has learning disabilities, has multiple disabilities involving medical care — back-to-school is full of even more signifiance and school success is measured differently.
Back-to-School Without the Back-to-School Shopping
A couple of days ago the New York Times ran an article about how retailers were worrying about lagging back-to-school sales as students, not wanting to show up in last year’s fashions, are delaying the annual shopping fest till they are actually back in school.
We don’t do any back-to-school shopping. If Charlie could, he’d wear the same shirt and pants every day, till they were in tatters. He neither notices nor cares one bit about trends: He’s immune to both peer pressure and consumer capitalism.
It’s something sad about parenting a child with disabilities who is more and more out of step with kids his age. But it’s also why being Charlie’s mother has been a constant back-to-school experience for me in the best of ways, a chance to learn that there’s a lot more to life than earning good grades or worrying about getting into a good college.
Photo by bestlibrarian
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