It’s a nightmare that has played out over and over in my head:
My helpless special needs son being abused at the hands of an evil force preying on the weaknesses of an innocent child just because he’s an easy target.
I mean, who would Andrew tell?
How would we, as his parents ever really know?
It took me a very long time to send him off to school without suffering an anxiety attack each morning; even now, as I watch the school bus disappear around the corner each day, a part of me struggles to remain calm and not take off running after him like a crazy person, possibly thwarting disaster by keeping him locked up and in my field of vision forever.
I know how it sounds.
But can you blame me?
Over the years, we’ve had a few brushes with school staff that have been less than desirable; there was the preschool teacher that just didn’t give a damn and let Andrew play with the backpacks in the classroom closet just to keep him out of her hair, the 2nd grade aides that left him passed out on the cold ground outside mid-February after his Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis, and the bus driver who thought it was perfectly acceptable to take my son on a two hour joy ride due to an impacted schedule without informing us.
And while I’ve never had any reason to suspect any physical, sexual, or verbal abuse, I’ll never forget the feelings of disgust and hurt that came over me the day my son came home on the school bus during his first grade year, his feet and shoes soaked from urine; it was obvious by his wrinkled skin that he had been sitting in his own piss for hours, and the anger that came over me was red, hot, and dangerous.
It was a brutal reminder that trusting anyone outside of our immediate family to provide Andrew with the support he needed and the respect he deserved was risky at best.
And it made me wonder what else was going on when I wasn’t around. I didn’t become paranoid per say; I just vowed to always be aware, proactive, and be willing to go to the ends of the earth to defend my little boy.
Which is exactly what Brian, father of 14-year-old Cheyanne – who has special needs – did after he says his daughter began to hurt herself to avoid going to school. According to Brian, Cheyanne started to complain about school in the fifth grade and within the next three years her previous love of school was all but gone. After hearing from Cheyanne that she was being bullied by the teachers, Brian made numerous appeals to the school only to be told that his daughter was “lying” and “making up stories.”
Cheyanne’s dad Brian, who is officially a hero of mine, took matters into his own hands and outfitted his daughter with a hidden recording device. What happened next is shocking; it broke his heart, and is sure to break yours too.
7 Hours you guys.
That’s just 7 hours over four school days worth of evidence that Brian’s device recorded.
Cheyanne was stuck in a classroom with these two heinous women for three years.
Imagine what this child has had to endure at the hands of the very people entrusted with her care.
Kinda makes you wanna vomit a little bit, doesn’t it?
Now I want to be very clear that what I’m about to say next does NOT pertain to the tens of thousands of amazing special needs educators, therapists, classroom aides, and support personnel actively supporting our special needs communities throughout this country. Because for every vile human being like teacher’s aide Kelly Chaffins (who did NOT deserve the dignity of resigning and should have been FIRED and paraded around campus while wearing an “I’m a Giant Asshole” sash) or special education teacher Christie Wilt (who should never be allowed to step foot within a 5 mile radius of a classroom again and be made to run on a treadmill until she sweats the STUPID right out of her), there are hardworking, kind, loving, devoted, dedicated men and women who spend each day working tirelessly on behalf of our amazing children and they deserve our continued support and admiration (Like my son’s classroom aide Joan, whom we call his “school mom.” Seriously, that woman would walk through fire for him and I will forever be indebted to her for giving me months of inner peace knowing she is caring for my child while he is at school).
For the rest of you. For those of you who think you can get away with bullying, torturing, molesting, abusing, and hurting our children just because they cannot speak up or speak out, for those of you who take pleasure in preying on our kids and turning them into your personal physical and emotional punching bags, for those of you who think for one second that a special needs child is somehow less than, or deserving of your misguided and cowardly wrath……
Make no mistake.
You. Are. So. Dumb.
We are out there. Parents like Brian who refuse to accept that there is NOTHING that anyone can do, that our children will forever be victims at the hands of someone stronger, smarter, someone who elbows their way through life and doesn’t think the rules apply to them, someone stupid enough to believe that they will continue to get away with it.
We fill find you
We are out there
and we are listening
so make sure the next time you decide to belittle a child
that you clear your throat
lean in a little bit
and speak directly into the microphone.