First and foremost, I’m scared of autism. When I see Joseph doing his strange movements, when he doesn’t answer my questions, when he just seems zoned out, I’m scared. Scared that I’ve lost him, scared that other people can see he’s autistic, scared that he’ll never make it in mainstream society.

Scared of what will happen to him after Blue Eyes and I die. Scared that kids will make fun of him, bully him, douse the laughter and joy in his eyes.

And now something incredibly scary lurks. Just around the corner, in the shadows. I feel it constantly.

“It” is school.

I live in a small town, so it’s easy to keep in touch with the other ASD parents. Naturally, I’ve been keenly interested in what happens when their kids start school.

It’s not looking good. Charter, public, or private school, these kids are having a rough time of it. One kid, extremely bright and personable, is exhibiting such antisocial behavior that they’ve put him in the classroom with the severely impaired children. Another is having such a difficult time adjusting that the school requires one of his parents to be there with him full-time.

Scary indeed. And these are good schools. I am not naive enough to think it’ll be any different for Joseph.

I’m in the middle of Barack Obama’s book, In My Father’s Dreams. When he was an organizer in Chicago, he worked in a neighborhood rife with gangs, drugs, and people isolated behind their locked doors. A scary situation. But as he worked with these people, they began to realize they could make a huge difference — when they pulled together. And so they did.

Inspired by this, I sent out an email today to my little ASD community of parents with early school-age kids. I don’t know a solution, I said, but I think we’ll do a lot better together than we will alone.

People all over the world are facing the dilemma of their ASD children not fitting into schools. Surely some are working out solutions. Let’s pool our expertise, do some research, figure out what we can do, I wrote.

One mom has written back to say this:

“I am so in! I am really, really struggling. I would love to touch base with people who get that I am existing in an alternate experience from other moms with 7 year olds. They tell me about how proud they are about how many books their kid has read. I’m proud that my kid didn’t hit the Down Syndrome girl in the head again when he threw his dry erase board for ‘writing without tears (yeah, right!)'”


I’m waiting to hear from the others. This — joining together for support and manifestation — is not scary. It’s exciting! Together we can make a dramatic shift — for our children, and for those children Joseph and Friends fighting fear, Halloweento come.

So maybe fear has its place. Sometimes it’s just old baggage, of course, but sometimes it has something important to say. And in these cases,  a mature, compassionate response could be to reach out, join hands, and let it spur us into action.

The Take Back the Night movement comes to mind. It symbolizes women’s individual walk through darkness and demonstrates that, united,  women can resist fear and violence.

ASD parents: The schools are not in charge. We are. Time to take back our kids!