Fifth grade was a bad year for us. Puberty added a whole new set of problems and behavior issues.

One particularly bad morning, my daughter did not want to go to school. I had to make her go – you see, there is this idea she has: If she gets away with something once, she expects to get away with it every time. There is no going back; no reclaiming authority if you give her a break. I used to introduce myself to her grade school teachers and say, “I am her mom. I want you to understand you cannot let her get away with anything. If you do, you will never get it back. Do not cut her any slack.” Most of them listened; the one who didn’t – well, let’s just say that was a VERY bad year.

But back to that one morning – My daughter sat down on the kitchen floor. I asked her if she was going to walk to the car or be carried to the car. She grabbed the box of Rice Krispies off the table, dumped it on the floor and rolled in it. Her black school uniform was covered. Her hair(that was a bad hair day!) was covered. I think there were even Rice Krispies in her shoes.

I really think she thought that I wouldn’t take her to school looking like that…but I did. I walked her into school, told her teacher it had been a bad morning. The teacher kindly said ‘I’ve seen  worse.’ She took my daughter by the hand and said, ‘let’s get you cleaned up.’ This event was near the end of her regular schooling. Shortly after that, my daughter was recommended for home instruction because she had become too difficult to manage in a classroom.

I had her get up everymorning, put on her school uniform and took her to work with me. My employer was so helpful – allowing me to bring her along. I worked part-time at a church, so I parked her in the youth room to nap, read or draw while I worked my four hour shift. All the doors at the church have chimes – so I didn’t have to worry about her running out a back or side door.

Home instruction meant she was with me all day, everyday, save 2 hours in the afternoon, four days a week, when a teacher would work with her one-on-one. Often, I would just sit in my car and nap during that time – I had to stay nearby in case there was a problem with her behavior.

I had her evaluated again during that time – she had not yet been diagnosed as autistic – despite sensory issues, pervasive developmental problems – she always tested just a litte too high. It would take a domestic violence incident, juvenile court / jail, and a six-month stay at a residential behavoral unit to finally get the autism diagnosis. This was just the beginning of a very bad time for our family.

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