I could relay a number of instances when Kate has been teased or bullied by other children. I won't, though. It would be too painful for you to read. You won't like it anymore than I did. The children are not to blame, of course. They instinctively question her differences. They can't help but laugh when she does something strange. The most disturbing part, for me, is when I see Kate laugh with them. Kate doesn't understand that the children are laughing at her odd repetitive movements or her 'baby-talk' or her diaper or her chewy toys. She often thinks she is in on the joke and she laughs longest and loudest. It breaks my heart. It makes the children laugh harder and I get glimpses of her future at school.
I guess you could say that Kate is moderately autistic, mid-functioning, swimming in the middle of the pool or whatever other silly metaphors are used to make her developmental delays clearer for her team. She is not severe enough to garner the sympathy of her peers and not high-functioning enough to 'pass', either. She sits somewhere in the middle and she is a prime target for bullying.
This is terrifying for us.
Alex talks about how we can work with Grace and the core group of children that Kate will go to school with and train them, so to speak, to protect Kate. I cringe at the thought of Grace feeling all of the pressure to stand up for Kate in the school yard. But, together, I think Kate could have a righteous little team behind her. I think about this little team, that we are slowly preparing for her, when I feel afraid for her to walk through the doors of that school.
When I titled this blog GoTeamKate, I was originally referencing the many adults that would work together to help Kate negotiate her world. I didn't expect that a team of little children might be the most integral part of all.
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27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)