When I was in fifth grade, I broke my wrist. It happened in gym class while attempting the high jump. The teacher didn’t like my first jump. I think the word he used was ungainly, so he had me do it again. Though I cleared the pole, I landed in the sand, hard. The first jump was insult, the second was injury.
Wearing a cast wasn’t so bad, it’’s a rite of passage, however, what did upset me was it was softball season. This is a big deal when you are 11. World ending.
I may have been down, but I was not out. As my arm healed, my father started pitching to me. Dad was a NYC commuter, a trip that took 2 hours door to door. I’m sure the last thing he wanted to do at the end of a long day was toss balls to his one-armed daughter, but this is what he did, often till it got dark.
After a few weeks of being on the DL, I asked my teacher if I could play softball. The answer was no until someone offered to run bases for me. As teams were picked, it was no surprise that I was chosen last. When my turn at bat came, there was a lot of chatter as the opposing team moved inside the baseline. It was the 2nd pitch that I connected with the ball, sending it into deep left field.
One difference between Neurotypical kids and those that “aren’t” NT is, they are not second guessed. However, when you are given a diagnosis, the seed of doubt is planted and it takes root. We may have been sent to Holland, but we all tend to end up in Missouri, the “Show-me” State. This is not a state of mind you want to linger. Nothing is more undermining that not to be heard. It must be very disheartening to finally get your words out (either verbally or though an AAC device) and everyone wants you to repeat yourself so they can confirm you said what you said, or you meant what you said.
This brings me back to my Dad. If it weren’t for his belief in me, I probably would’ve sat on the bench till my cast came off. I don’t want this happening to Jess. It doesn’t matter if we have to make adaptations, or provide supports for things to work. More importantly, special needs parents need to stop doubting and start presuming competence. It’s better to let people think you are a delusional parent than it is to not foster child’s self esteem.
Just as Lassie was asked “did Timmy fall in the well?”, I’m going to believe what Jess tells me.