Katie was relaxed and happy at home, but she had plenty of problems with her schooling. As school, students flapped their hands at her, mocking her her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and Asperger’s syndrome. Classmates formed cliques and left Katie out. “She can’t be in our club. She’s weird.”
Throughout her elementary school years, Katie was placed in an “inclusion” classroom, the kind that allows special-needs kids to get support and accommodations. I learned that inclusion did not keep Katie from being singled out. It hit me during field day at Katie’s school, a mini-Olympics, in which her class battled it out with others for bragging rights.
Katie was ecstatic. “They’re having field day on my birthday. It’s gonna be so much fun.”
When I arrived, Katie’s class was in the middle of the egg-and-spoon race. Her team had a big lead. When Katie’s turn came, I shouted, “Scramble, sweetie!” I watched in horror as she dropped the egg, bent over to pick it up, and drifted into the other lanes because she had no idea where she was headed. “She’s making us lose!” shouted the daughter of one of our neighbors -- a girl who was supposed to be Katie’s friend. “She can’t do anything right!” said another “friend.”
When Katie reached the finish line, the last one to do so, her teammates walked away, shaking their heads. Then I watched as she sat down on the ground and cried -- on her birthday! Frustrated and angry, I reached for Katie’s hand and said, “You don’t need this. It’s your birthday and we’re going home.”
“No, Mom. I’m fine. I want to stay here with the kids,” she said, getting up and wiping tears from her eyes. “I don’t want to go home.”
I gave her a kiss and walked away -- and sobbed like a baby after I got in my car. “She stands out like a sore thumb!” I said aloud. “Why can’t she be like everybody else? Is this what her life’s going to be like?”
This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.