Buying School Supplies is Far from Routine for This Mom of a Child with Autism

It was a typical early August Wednesday. I went to Office Depot during my lunch hour to purchase first grade school supplies for my oldest. To be honest, I wasn’t sure he really needed them. He is a child with Autism and participates both in an Autism program and a regular first grade class.

Last year we purchased things for the Autism Classroom but never received a list or anything for his kindergarten inclusion room. However, his IEP calls for a pretty even split of time between the Autism class and “regular” first grade. It is important to us that he begins in the first grade classroom on day one, with the other children in his class. It is important that he have all the supplies they do and that he is as much a part of that classroom as possible.

As I was looking at some particular notebooks searching for wide rule, I noticed another woman – a mother presumably – with three different lists in hand choosing folders. She did not look like she was having a good time. She may have been pressed for time, she may have been concerned about the cost of supplies, she may have simply looked grumpy even if she wasn’t.

But that lady gave me pause. Looking at her and finding it odd to see her scowl made me examine my own mood. I was quite simply elated. Over-the-moon excited at choosing school supplies.

And once I realized how I was feeling, I immediately understood why. Buying school supplies isn’t a chore for me. Isn’t one more thing to do. It is such a privilege. Such an outward sign of the success we’ve experienced after living with the challenges of Autism.

I don’t know if my son will use the red ruler I selected or if he’ll really go through two bottles of glue and a glue stick. I do know I was the only person in Office Depot that day frantically wiping away a tear that had fallen onto my cheek.

Sometimes parents like to compare the lists of supplies requested by different schools and the cost of said supplies. I don’t know what my total was that day. I do know that the experience – and the tangible reminder of my son’s accomplishment – was, to borrow from the commercial, priceless.

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