I want to write about disabled kids who really don't look any different from your kids. No wheel chairs or physical warning signs that might explain what happens next. Something that might prepare the stranger for the SCREEEEEEAM, the random phrase, the head spinning, the head banging, the mirthless laughter, the vacant stare, the hand twisting, the dart into traffic, the rituals, the curse.
These kids are given a variety of diagnoses: Sensory Integration Disorder, Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Auditory Processing Disorder, Apraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Hyperlexia. These neurological disorders are close cousins. Kids with these disorders suffer from a certain itchiness. They don't quite fit in the world. Either they don't understand what is going on or they can't express themselves. Little things, like the feeling of wet grass, drives them crazy. Combine that severe irritation with a normal IQ and an inability to tell people what's bothering you. That leathal combination makes one SCCREEEAM!!!
Strangers see this otherwise normal kid screaming and writhing, and they think, "BAD kid. BAD mother." Sometimes close relatives say the same thing.
On Sunday, we went to see the final sermon of the priest who married us. Father Ashley is one of the good guys in the world. A 60s activist who sheltered Black Panthers in the basement of his church on the South Side of Chicago. Since his smart sermons are quite famous, the church was packed with wall to wall people that Sunday. We walked in there with the boys, and Ian immediately whined "no, no, no, no, no." We tried to distract him with a juice box and snacks, but he moaned "no" and hid his head in Steve's shoulder. Steve took him out immediately, because we knew that he was about to start crying or screaming. We know the signs. The crowds were too much for him. He was in pain.
These kids with the crossed wiring are embarrassing, weird, and annoying. But they can't be hidden away in faraway schools. They are part of the world, too. They need free and plentiful therapy to make them less unhappy, but they are also never going to blend in perfectly. They are still going to say weird things and spaz out suddenly. So just deal with it.