Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It Came Up Again

There's a question that Amanda and I seem to discuss time and time again.  It seems there is not "right answer".  Would Nathan be better off in a school setting where there are more kids "like him"?  Generally Amanda is the one who brings this up.  I'm dead set against it.  As always, her thinking is sound, and her motives pure. 

In my last entry, "Everybody Loves Nathan" I detailed some of the challenges and disappointments involved in how people view and react to him.  It is without hyperbole that I say that Nathan "has no friends", at least among his peers.  This is Amanda's concern, and to a degree, mine as well.  In a setting where more kids were "like him", he'd find more acceptance. 

When we drop Nathan off at MedCamps every year, the difference in how he is greeted and interacted with is stark.  He's loved and valued as Nathan.  The kids who are "more like him" view him as an equal.  Just another kid their age.  His standing is equal.  No one likes him because of what liking him "says about them".  This sequestered setting is safe, pleasant, and fun.  Unfortunately, it's a vacation spot.  Reality is far different.

From an emotional perspective, I fully agree with my dear partner's assessment.  Socially, he'd find more acceptance and reap the benefits that go along with it.  It would certainly provide some temporary relief for us as his parents.  Repeatedly facing this is a crushing heartbreak for Amanda and me.

From a pragmatic perspective, I believe that our greatest job as parents is to prepare him for the adult world that he must someday live in without us.  He's a stark minority in that world.  What he's experiencing now will, to some degree, be a "life sentence".  Sequestering him in a safer place will only make the transition harder.  He has to learn to "swim with the sharks" as early as possible.  It is what it is.

This weeks "Confession of a Tourettic Mind" is that the constant struggle to balance his day-to-day enjoyment of life with "the greater good" for him makes my head spin.  Oddly enough, Amanda and I come down on different sides of this balance as the decision points change.  I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this particular topic. 


  1. Is there no middle ground? Seems to me that for all of us, real life - ideally, anyway - consists in facing a hostile world but with the help of friends who accept and support us.

    As always, thank you for your transparency and for making the effort to make us aware.

  2. Middle ground is elusive. The school situation is pretty polar. Mainstream, or full-time special ed/special school. He's way too bright not to mainstream.

    Thanks for reading. I'm honored to have you with me.

  3. Though you both make good arguments, you are right; there really is no good answer. What parent wouldn't want their child to be in a setting where he/she is accepted for who they are? It's just sad that there are people in the world that pretty much take advantage, calling him their friend just to make themselves feel like they are a good person.

  4. I think it's so important for others to be in school with Nathan and learn from him. You were my first friend with Tourette's. I liked you for you and quickly stopped "seeing" the Tourette's. Maybe I wouldn't have understood my students with Tourette's and been patient with them if I had not had my friendship with you.