Parenthood kicked me in the gut tonight with it’s all-too-accurate portrayal of mothering a child with Aspergers. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with this show, and I don’t watch it every week- but I’ve watched enough to know they do a damn good job most of the time. But its kind of like watching Breaking Bad– I don’t really have any desire to watch a show about a guy devolving into drug addiction. It’s not…um… entertaining to me. But this here? Well, it’s shocking to see someone on TV (where by and large what I live is not really even on the radar) dealing with an incredibly accurate and emotionally loaded, nuanced portrayal of what it’s like to mother this child.

The show opens with Max, the boy with Aspergers, blowing up at his well-intentioned mother. He unloads, cursing her and telling her he hates her. He throws things at her, and rages at the situation. And she is caught there, knowing she must do something, unclear what is spectrum disorder processing and what is a child misbehaving; pulled taut between uncertainty, her own anger, shock, grief, surprise and a hundred other rolling emotions. The actress (Monica Potter) captured it beautifully. Tragically, painfully, beautifully.

And doesn’t it figure? Bean’s IEP is tomorrow morning at 8 am, where his team of teachers and therapists will sit with me and go over his education plan, where we will discuss his inability to control his emotional responses, and try and figure out how to lead him in a way that balances the delicate dance between what is disability, and what is a child testing his boundaries. A hundred rolling emotions coming down the track…

9 thoughts on “Parenthood

  1. Tracy-
    Love your blog, I’ve been following it for awhile and I appreciate your humor and honesty. I’m a speech pathologist. I’ve tried to look at things from the parents point of view or at least not try to come off like I know their child better than they do. You’ve helped me be extra aware of what life is like outside of school for some of our families. I hope you have a good meeting and that you have a good team that realizes you bring all the expertise to the table in terms of what is best for your child and what your hopes and dreams are for him. Their job is to work with you to get there. Best of luck. We often don’t realize what it feels like for parents to walk in to a room full of school personnel. We need to work to make that feel more comfortable. You’re a breath of fresh aire since my own life took a massive detour a few years ago… Now a single mom as well.
    You’re doing a great job!

  2. I will be praying for you during your IEP meeting. Ethan has them too, and they are emotionally draining during the best of situations. Hang in there Mama Bear!

  3. thank you for this. I have 2 boys on the spectrum and was overwhelmed by the response of “friends” on social media to this episode. It broke my heart to read their judging and criticism of the parents in this show. Even those who claim to my face to “get it” clearly don’t. I needed another mother who saw the same things that I saw and viewed the emotions that were conflicting the mother so clearly to speak up and you did that for me.

    Will be holding you in prayer as you brave the IEP meeting….these are one of my worst nightmares…

  4. It’s always kind of nice–and surprising–when tv/movies get it right. They never seem to with any of the hard things I’ve had to deal with. (Don’t get me started on how they like to use diabetes as a plot device!)

    I remember IEPs for my kids, but mine were always good experiences. Hope this one goes well for you.

  5. Susan, for me too. Bean’s had some great teachers, and I feel very confident that his team really does care about him and have his best interests in mind. It helps that I know a ton about SpEd, and they all know I’m working towards my MA/PhD in it, so maybe they’re nicer to me, but I don’t think so. I also know other parents have had terrible experiences. I guess it all depends.

    It went well.

  6. Pingback: Little Bits of Life… » Blog Archive » Breaking Down

  7. Tracy, K and I love this show and we do watch it weekly, religiously, although there have been a few plot turns that we consider non-canonical (Adam Braverman would never put himself in that situation with the lame secretary, for instance). And yes, this was a powerful scene, but hearing how it resonated with you, reading your direct explanation of the circumstances, helps me understand the show better. Thanks and good luck tomorrow. K has a student with aspergers, but she’s really introverted in class, so no big behavioral problems aside from having to make sure she’s catching things.

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