teacher in a school and, by Monday, an informal parent task force was forming that sought to "take those kids out of regular classes in the name of keeping our kids safe." I wrote this at that time.
These things will happen this week.
1. I will say that autism is not mental illness.
2. I will explain that you can have no friends and not be lonely.
3. I will talk about the difference between being a loner and being alone.
4. I will tell my son that, for now at least, he will need to unfasten the very top button of his button-down shirt.
5. I will say that Asperger Syndrome is not always associated with high, measurable IQ.
6. I will watch a 7th grader with mental illness get a bad grade in science, yell out that he has shit for brains and that everyone's out to get him before taking a walk together to cool down.
7. I will say that while many autists have aggressive, on-the-spot meltdowns, they do not engage in premeditated violence, carried out over months.
8. I will say that it is a trend in the suburbs to mask mental illness and high IQ as Asperger Syndrome.
9. I will tell my teenage son to stop calling me mommy.
10. I will say there is no research to support homeschooling with poor socialization.
11. I will say that graphic violent gaming is not good for any developing brain.
12. I will say that graphic violent gaming in a person with impaired empathy is a recipe for disaster.
13. I will watch as middle-schoolers begin to identify and target peers they believe are threats.
14. I will call the police in my town and identify my son as having an autism spectrum disorder. He and I will go and introduce ourselves.
15. I will tell my students that our school is safe while wearing the ID badge that would be used to identify my body.
16. I will write about my friend who hanged himself a few Thanksgivings ago in the woods behind his mother's house. They found cotton wedged far down inside his ear canals that he used to drown out the voices.
17. I will cringe at what feels like such overt disrespect: the advice to go home and hug your own kids a little harder tonight.
18. I will tell my son he needs to change the sound of his laugh and we will practice alternatives.
19. I will say please stop dancing, walking or running for autism awareness. Save your money. Think about investing some time with a family over a year.
20. I will be required to take part in meetings about installing bulletproof glass windows and arming administrators.
21. I will reflect on the allure of denial.
22. I will watch as 8th-grade girls use Sharpies to draw interconnected circles on the inside of their wrists: in one circle they'll write RIP; in the other, NT.
23. I will sleep next to my youngest child, age 6, and wake often during the night to touch the top of his head. It will feel like dread.
24. I will sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" next to my son while he plays piano.
25. I will remember a secretary I hired once who said, "Disability is a minority you can join at any time."
26. I will stay away from church.