Having a child who suffers from ADHD or Aspergers is a complex and difficult thing. On the one hand it requires patience and as a parent, you have to devote a great deal of time to teaching that child things that may come naturally to others.
On the other, it gives a rare insight into a beautiful mind and opens your
eyes to a whole new perspective.
My son Frank, who has mild Aspergers and dyslexia, has been the bearer of such light since the moment he was born 12 years ago. Everyone comments on how thoughtful and considerate he is and many have said that he possesses wisdom far beyond his years.
He has already shown talent as an artist and spends the majority of his time creating stories and comic strips that recount a sprawling mythology. His inspiration is drawn from the books he reads avidly and the conversations he has with people of all ages.
At Glastonbury last year he made a name for himself at the House of Fairytales, where for three days he created alien-inspired puppets, costumes and collages. Still today I meet people who ask whether I'm the mother of that great boy they met in the Park Field. He's a huge hit with my daughter Daisy's friends too and counts many of them as his closest companions.
However, whilst the joy of Frank and all his gifts is apparent to people my age, it seems that children at school do not share the same view. Ever reluctant to share his problems, the admission that he was being bullied came after a comment made by my five year-old daughter Betty.
She was upset that her friend had not invited her to her birthday party when Frank replied: "Don't worry Betty, I don't have any friends either. People only talk to me to tell me that I'm doing things wrong."
They were the words a parent hopes never to hear. My initial reaction was to contact the school and ask them to reprimand whoever it was that had caused my son to feel this way. Knowing how incapable Frank is of cruelty, the idea of him being defenceless in that situation filled me with sadness. More than anything, I wanted him to feel accepted and at ease.
But with further consideration I realised that forcing people to befriend my son was pointless. If the boys at school were told to accept him, it would only be for a short time and the bullying would inevitably return as soon as the teacher's back was turned. The only alternative was to discourage Frank from his unique and brilliant ways and to instill in him greater self-consciousness.
This was something I'll never be prepared to do.
It is for that reason that I decided to move him to another school. This may seem controversial to those of the 'tough love' approach, but my only priority was finding somewhere that would nurture Frank's creativity and bring out the best in him. He will remain at his current school until the end of the half term, when he will move and hopefully find greater happiness.
I hope this story resonates with anyone in a similar situation. It is always difficult deciding to what extent we should urge our children to conform.
I can only hope that by showing my son that he doesn't have to compromise his personality, he will emerge stronger and have the ability to fulfill all of his dreams. Bullying is a terrible and distressing thing and the impact it has on many young people's lives must never be understated. But I firmly believe that those who endure are stronger and approach life with a more considerate, uplifting and positive mindset.
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