Chapter 11

The family is settling into their new home in Austin.  Robert finds a new job doing what he had previously done at Barnes and Nobles when they lived in Detroit.  Schuyler is settled into a new school with a special education teacher that seems to be doing the best she can and consulting with the parents.

We are starting to learn more about Schuyler as a person- her likes and dislikes.  As a speech therapist, I also observed Robert listing things she can do: names people in her family, say “no”, and has a few signs.  He also seems to be talking less about what she can’t do.  The family seems to be accepting Schuyler’s disability at some level.

In the final scene of this chapter, Schuyler is running around the grocery and a woman cruelly comments about Schuyler’s behavior.  Robert and this woman get in a verbal altercation.  Robert tries to explain to the woman that Schuyler has a disability. The woman says, “If she can’t behave like a normal kid, then she shouldn’t be out in public with the rest of us.  Maybe you should have her institutionalized if she can’t do any better than that.”

I was surprised at Robert’s reaction to this woman’s comments.  He confronts her and directly asks for an apology.  I think it took a lot of strength to confront this woman. Robert has struggled (rightfully so) to find answers to his daughter’s “monster” and to deal with it himself.  Confronting this woman was in a way Robert confronting his doubts and denials.  I think he also realizes at this point that Schuyler’s struggles will be a lifelong endeavor. Some of her struggles will be due to her own disability, but many will be due to other people’s lack of understanding of her disability.

–Darcy Lanham, SLP at Goldsmith Elementary

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 11

  1. Melanie says:

    I agree that Schuyler’s parents are becoming more accepting of their daughter’s diagnosis and focusing more on her abilities. They are just like every other parent that wants the best for their child and will protect their child at all times. This was evident by Robert’s reaction to the old lady at the grocery store.

    I am inclined to think that I would have said something to the lady upon hearing her comment, but not so far as to tell her that I wished she got cancer. Everyone reacts differently when in protection mode, some more severe than others!

    .

  2. Jane Stosberg says:

    I am glad Robert felt the strength to confront the woman in the store, though I am sorry that he had so much stored up anger that it ballooned into the cancer curse. I wonder if Robert realizes that there have probably been many silent observers who Schuyler have encountered her out in public and have looked upon her with compassion or empathy or admiration. I enjoy how honest Robert’s writing is, but sometimes I feel he makes assumptions and jumps to conclusions without considering alternative points of view, which is what he would not want people to do with Schuyler. In this case though, some of his worst fears were brought to life by this woman in the grocery store.

  3. Jane says:

    I was impressed that Robert had the strength to confront the woman in the grocery store, though worried that he had so much built up anger that he went so far as to wish cancer upon her. This made me wonder if Robert realizes that there are most likely many silent supporters out there for Schuyler. I imagine that there are people who encounter her daily who feel empathy and admiration and compassion, but who don’t say anything to him or her. I know he feels support from his blog readers, but I hope that he can extend that feeling more deeply to know that it is not him against the world. Though I guess it would be hard not to feel that way when you face people like the grocery store woman.

  4. Kim Campbell (Carter) says:

    I feel like I would have reacted in a similar manner as Robert… well, minus wishing cancer on someone. At my previous job, I had a parent tell me a very similar story. I was shocked that someone would have such negative feelings toward a child with special needs. The mother informed me that it happens all the time and she constantly defends her child. I was glad to read that Robert was focusing more on what Schuyler can do versus what she can’t do.

  5. Karen says:

    It always amazes the nerve people have. It is a reminder that often just because a child looks “normal” something else can be wrong. Passing judgement on others because of this is just so sad. I think too often it is easier to think of what a child’s disability is rather than their ability. It was heartwarming to see this change in thinking.

  6. Rachel Lacap says:

    I understand that the author felt ashamed after what he had said at the store, but hell hath no fury like a parent protecting their child! I feel like the main point of this chapter was to emphasize that Schuyler’s disability will not only be in having no words, but in how other people react to her having no words.

  7. Marie Fisher says:

    I enjoy reading about Schuyler’s school-I hope to read more about this in future chapters. I also enjoy getting to know more about her personality and what she can do in terms of her expressive/receptive communication abilities.

    The grocery store scene made me cringe! I felt embarrassed for both the lady and Robert; however, I do not fault him for standing up for Schuyler. I am not a confrontational person, but I would hope that I would have the courage to stand up to someone and say something if they made such an ignorant comment about a child with special needs (let alone my own child…).

  8. Lindsey Nicklies (Noonan) says:

    I don’t mind Robert’s reaction to this lady. The things she said were pretty awful and even as he tried to explain the situation and ask for an apology, she continued being rude and unreasonable. Logic and reason weren’t going to work with her. I appreciate his honesty. We all have those moment were we lash out.

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