I’m in the midst of intense marketing season. It’s customary for Catholic schools to start open houses and open admissions during the last week of January, to coincide with Catholic Schools Week, where we celebrate who we are.
I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks, and all weekend, working on marketing, from postcards to the website, and planning awareness campaigns and open houses.
I enjoy telling our story to the world, though there’s a lot of pressure because we have to grow next year, even a little, or Father will start to worry again, which means we shut down. It means Autistic me worries a lot.
I have this wonderful place where I can talk about what we’re doing and have some of these ideas fall on the exact “ears” I hope will hear me, but if I’m more specific about where I am, I may well destroy the blog because of negativity that seems to surround my school. Negativity which we feel like we’re finally almost free of, at least on the inside, but claws on the outside, waiting for our defeat.
Ableism was rampant at this place last year, under the guise of somehow being safer for those with different ways of thinking. Whereas the other schools made no accommodation, it looked like we did, and instead we’d scream and yell at children for nonconformity and banish teachers into two groups: the “chosen ones” and the rest of us.
It’s not like that now.
But the popularity of groups like Autism $peak$, which is really a hate group, not a help organization, reminds me always that those people will be out there, wanting us to destroy Autism, not create a haven for it. The people who think you can beat kids to get the ADHD out (assuming it’s a real thing anyway) are everywhere.
We provide a different way of looking at things. Not only are ADHD and Autism very real, Neurodivergent students need a place to learn who they are first, and to know they are loved children of God, and as they get older, they can move out into a world that is hostile to them and, together, make it better for the next generation.
My school matters.
My marketing doesn’t tell you exactly that message. Plenty of parents aren’t woke just yet. But I have hints for those who are woke, and it’s still an approachable message for those who are not. But my goal is happy children who love Jesus and love themselves for who they are. This is a place where kids learn to know themselves and then self-advocate. The academics are strong; we’re a college-preparatory school, after all, but we break it down so that everyone, regardless of academic skills, can get where they need to go. That’s an important part of loving yourself; learning that you can understand material, even if you have a learning disability or have trouble focusing and that it’s our job to help you. We don’t do conventional grades, though if we eventually have high schoolers, we will have conventional grades even if we find them useless. So many colleges aren’t quite ready for portfolios and standards report cards yet. But when kids are older and can understand that the specific letters aren’t everything, they won’t hurt them so badly.
They really can derail children and young teens, though. Either their grades are low and their self-esteem takes a hit, or their grades are high, too high to make mistakes. Either way, they don’t communicate how much anyone knows, and what areas, if any, are places that cause students to suffer.
We have increasingly educated people (either through academics or through self-reading and reflection) in my area who know that these things are important, and I’m hoping to get the word out to them, those who have heard that grades are only part of the story.
But I can’t tell you where we are.
This is an uncomfortable feeling.
Thank you for reading this blog, and for showing your support through your web traffic. It helps me to know that you care enough to read and learn and grow with me, on this journey of learning to educate, parent, and lead Neurodivergently.