After much deliberation, I finally sent the email on Tuesday, 20th November.
Then was the anxious wait...
I’d put off seeing Claudia on Wednesday, 14th because I’d had plans with my youngest son. That was part of the reason. The other was because I knew that day her family would learn whether Zoe has Asperger’s. I worried that if she hadn’t, then my ears would be talked down to the drum with all the rants and raves. I really wasn’t up to hearing any of it.
Last week via text, she’d mentioned about seeing me this evening. I knew I had to act quickly if I was going to send this email. I knew I couldn’t say what I had to in person so I sent it. As she doesn’t check her email every day and Thursday loomed ever closer I began to panic that she would text me to confirm her visit without checking her email first.
Lo and behold that’s exactly what happened. So, I replied, “Would you check you email before you come, please so we can discuss it when you’re here?”
Less than an hour later, I got a reply, “Oh Hear_Me! I’m really sorry! I never meant to hurt you. I won’t be coming round tonight. I’ve sent you an email that will explain. Sorry again. Take care xx”
So, I checked my email and this is what it said:-
I’m sorry you feel that way and I know I can go ‘overboard’ when speaking of things that annoy or distress me. However, in my defence, I have also said that Teaching Assistants are a very valuable and effective resource for most children, but in Zoe’s case they are not helping as they are not specialised enough. I realise you have had training in dealing with children with ASD, as all TA’s do nowadays, but you have to admit that you and all other ‘general’ TA’s are not trained to understand the ‘incorrect wiring’ in the brain of a child with ASD and therefore how to ‘re-route’ the teaching style so that it can be understood. This takes a specialist teacher, as confirmed by the consultant that we saw last week, and we are now waiting for the specialist teacher who will be with Zoe all through school to contact us.
I have a great amount of respect for the valuable job TA’s do and the school enviroment would be a much worse place without them. We did not have them when I was at school, and I know of many friends who would have benefited very much from their involvement.
I also have a great deal of respect and admiration for you as a person, you have a difficult and challenging life in many ways but always remain positive and a joy to be around. I ,on the other hand, always speak my mind, and the awful truth is that Zoe and Phil are both very slow academically (learning difficulties are not linked to Asperger’s - it is usually the opposite, the sufferers are normally very bright) and the word I chose to use is ‘thick’. These comments in NO WAY related to you, you are an educated, articulate person and beat me hands down academically and I’m sorry that you made a connection where there was none.
I apologise that I hurt you and I’m sorry that I did not give you chance to get a word in edgeways to explain how you felt. I feel really bad that I’ve been coming round moaning on when you felt this way and had I realised I would have made more effort to be much clearer that I was NOT dissing TA’s - only that they cannot help Zoe. I know I can be thick-skinned and quite insensitive at times, but obviously I have gone too far on these occasions. Hear_Me, you have enough going on without someone like me making things worse for you, so I think it will be best all round if we don’t remain in contact, this will free up your time to find new, better friends who will help rather than hinder.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for all your support and friendship over the years, Hear_Me, I will remember it and am sorry that I spoilt it for you by being tactless and agressive but I can’t change who I am, sorry.
I wish you all the very best in the future.
So, there it is. Our friendship is over which is something I anticipated.
What are my feelings on her response? Well, she has to have the last word, as I expected. Understandably, she will feel defensive so will have felt the need to say something. She’s still dissing TAs saying we’re not trained. Yes, we are trained and we’re on the front line. We find many a way to help children; if one way doesn’t work, then we try something else and what works for one doesn’t work for the other.
Yes, she has said we’re a valuable resource on a few occasions then following that the vileness was spewed out. There were so many contradictions in what she said about this and other things. It was hard to know who she really was.
Then I get a mini ‘lecture’ on ASD. Thank you. I’ve been on training courses and I work with a couple of ASD children already and have done so for a few years now.
I know she apologised and I would have thought that if my friendship meant anything to her, she would want to resolve this. She knows what she is like. I know what I am like and I have tried in our communications to be more assertive but it hasn’t worked. I’m interpreting her deciding to end the friendship to mean that it didn’t mean that much to her. I feel saddened by that but suspected I was someone to talk ‘at’ and not ‘with’. Clearly she was happy with our friendship the way it was and didn't want it to be on a more equal footing as I suggested.
I cried when I read the email but I wasn’t shocked. It was tears of relief; she finally knew how I felt. Following that, I felt peace.
I’m sure over the next few weeks or months even, my feelings will swing from one thing to another. I expect to grieve the friendship.
Even so, I acknowledged her email with this:-
Thanks for your reply.
I understand your decision and I also accept your apology.
I want you to know that I appreciate your support over the years re Mum and Carolyn, that spring to mind. You offered me some invaluable insight when I wasn’t able to see clearly amid all my pain and confusion.
Likewise, I wish you all well for the future and I hope that Zoe gets all the help she needs in school. She’s a beautiful child, a real credit to you both and she makes an awesome coffee.