Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Days as Nathan

It happened.  Nathan was bullied again this week.  It's such a rarity these days that it even catches me off guard.  This time it was of the "cyber" variety.  That's a first for all of us.  It didn't exist when I was his age.  The pattern of abuse was all too familiar.  Only the proximity between persons and the transmission media were different.

Sitting in the assistant principle's office, I was taken back to a scene buried in a dusty corner of my memory some 32 years ago.  It reminded me that I was "Nathan" at one time.  It stopped me cold.  I had to apologize as the contents of a long forgotten bottle intermingled with fresh liquid from my "proxy pain" for Nathan drained down my cheeks.  I remembered it all, the faces, the names, the confusion, the disappointment.  With the pain came a useful clarity.  Our diagnoses are the same.  I don't just understand Nathan.  I "am Nathan".

The deficits that exist in his ability to read and correctly interpret social situations were once my own.  I could see how he'd been lured into a trap he never saw coming, only to realize it beyond the point where self-extrication was possible.  His developmental delays had been used to his detriment and other's entertainment just like my own, with one critical difference.  Me.

The past 32 years have "caught me up and then some".  I'm not only aware of who and what I am now, but also of who and what I was then.  The school administrators were quite receptive to my telling of the "first person" view of what Nathan had been through, the gaps in his development that made him an easy target, and how those were manipulated to get him to a place that a neurotypical person would have spotted.

I prayed for many years that my children would not experience life as I have.  That ship has sailed.   I can't change the path they must walk.  I can, however, change one thing.  They don't walk it alone.

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