Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

June 13, 2011

Third Grade Field Trip



Third Grade Field Trip

I See You

Oregon Coast Aquarium

Third Grade Field Trip

Third Grade Field Trip

I have things I want to say about this adventure but the words seem hard to come by tonight.

Some stories simply aren’t easy to document because the layers run deep.

There’s my story, his story, and our story (the intersection of the two).

I’m wavering between facts and feelings and the parts that were fun for Simon and others that were a bit tough for my heart to witness. He’s getting older and the kids are getting more socially sophisticated and that gap is getting bigger.

And yet, he is happy. He loved having a field trip, loved going to the beach, loved seeing the fish, loved having Doritos in his sack lunch, and he loved having me come along. And more than likely that’s really all that matters.


  • 1.
    Tanya W said…

    love your photos Ali esepcially the jellyfish, and yip its sometimes hard to tell the story :)

  • 2.
    dawn said…

    Wow to the photos and well said in the writing Ali. Sometimes it is hard for us moms to write when we have too many emotions going thru us. It is hard at this age for boys/girls no matter what they have to deal with in life/home. That’s why I want mine to stay little like sweet Anna and then meet again when they are in their 20′s, my poor heart can’t take the in between these ages,lol.

    I found a cool blog that reminded me of you and your OLW not sure if you know about it but it was new and exciting for me to see it. The post was about making you blurry light shine like hearts, kinda like that one of your Christmas tree this past year. Here is the link let me know if you check it out and it’s something new for you too. Here’s the link hope this gives you a new outlook for your OLW album. Happy Monday

  • 3.
    dawn said…

    Ali, you will have to scroll down a bit on her blog but it’s there. Some of your readers might enjoy this too.

  • 4.
    Pam S. said…

    Ali, the older they get, the struggles are still there, but different. when they are young we have more control over the social aspect of things in their lives. as mothers, we are so sensitive to their feelings, their world, their surroundings. they adapt and grow and find their way — it’s just hard to watch sometimes and other times it’s magical. take it all in but don’t overwhelm yourself with the details. enjoy the moments and let the details work themselves out over time.

  • 5.
    Helen (UK) said…

    “he loved having me come along. And more than likely that’s really all that matters.”

    This line made my heart catch a little… I know exactly what you mean…

    Keep telling those stories – even if they stay inside :)

  • 6.
    Kim said…

    There are times as mothers when our hearts just break for our children; sometimes I think we feel their pain even more intensely than they do. Just being there for them may seem insignificant, but it truly is the best thing we can do.

    • ….
      tracey said…

      So well said, Kim! :)

  • 7.
    linda said…

    I know exactly how you feel but you said the most important thing, he was happy and thats what us moms have to remember. The picture on the
    beach is beautiful and does speak volumes

  • 8.
    peggy said…

    Simon will find his way. You have taught him to love and respect himself and others. It will often not be easy but you are doing a good job of letting him be himself. It is hard to watch and I wish you all love and happiness.

  • 9.
    Asha said…

    You don’t even have to explain further, I understand. My son has had a speech delay, getting better all the time but still behind as far as communicating at his peer’s level. I occasionally go into his class to help and other things (he’s in 1st). This last time I went in, he was explaining something to the kids around him, getting flustered, stuttering and not getting his point across. I noticed a few of the kids give up and lost their interest and some looked at me and smiled like, “he’s trying”. It comforted me that they understand but then I thought, “how do they treat him when I’m not around”. He’s happy, he’s growing, it’s all we can do from the sidelines is to love them.

  • 10.
    Maritza said…

    awesome post. so far all the comments are on target. it never ends, we just get stronger. GOD BLESS

  • 11.
    Lisa W. said…

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…field trips. I miss them. My kiddo’s are 23…20…and 17yrs. old. But I remember them like they were yesterday. Thanks for sharing:) Have a wonderful day!!!!!

  • 12.
    Irma P. said…

    Ali, you’ve said it best: that it’s his story, your story, and our story. No one does it better from documenting it from these different perspectives than you.

  • 13.
    Lisa H said…

    Ali-I met you at CKU in Orlando a long time ago–your blog had introduced me to DAN doctors–so I totally get what you are going thru–our little guy is also 9, going into 4th next year. He is doing really really well, but we struggle with friendships, maintaining them, understanding all the social stuff. It is so hard, and my heart breaks for him sometimes. We just want him to be happy and have some friends. One thing I try to remember is growing up isn’t really easy for anybody–everyone has people that aren’t always nice to them–that doesn’t make it ok, but that is the reality. Simon has this wonderful family that he can always count on and he is very very loved and all of that counts for more than you know :-) Hugs…

  • 14.
    Dellie said…

    I totally understand how you feel, I believe my 6 yr old son has Aspergers, he has not been formally diagnosed as yet. I have been in and out of specialists appts solidly for 2 years. I see the way other children react to him ( often quite cruel),and the way he has great difficulty building any sort of friendships and it breaks my heart every single day. He is so beautiful and so amazing, but unfortunately so misunderstood by so many at his school.

  • 15.
    Maria said…

    I can so totally relate. My son is now in 4th, also with PDD-NOS. I can see the struggles he has with social issues. But he IS happy. 2 years ago, I tried to push it, asking his teacher for help during unstructured times like lunch and recess. It only backfired. Since then, I have learned to just give him some little nudges now and then but give him the final say. He is happier. He does cub scouts and Taekwondo and even challenger baseball. He still does not have friends of his own. But as long as he is happy and he knows we are always there for him, then that should be enough. Tough lesson to learn though.

  • 16.
    madeline St onge said…

    Ali it can be hard as they grow up. My mom used to tell me “when they are little you have little problems and when they get big so do the problems” I am sure you both will come through his growing up wonderfully. And then you will be able to tell the story

  • 17.
    susanmcl said…

    Oh, my heart aches…nothing to be done at that very second but say a quick prayer, for you, as a witness and the mom, for Simon, who was probably obliviously happy, and for the others that as they grow, they grow.

  • 18.
    Emma said…

    I know what your going through, My son has Dyspraxia and finds some things hard in life, his hand writing, speech, and some sport he’s find’s it hard sometimes to fit in and it breaks my heart but it makes him stronger, and I know he’s a far better person for having his issues he understands people and never judges people and is so excepting of people he’s 9 and I would love to make his life easier because he works so hard to overcome his issues, but I would never take the dyspraxia away because thats who he is. It took him along time to ride his bike he only started riding it properly about 6 months ago and this weekend he went on a 6 mile bike ride I was so proud of him and slowly in fits into that group. Simon knows you love him and your very proud of him that gets them through so much.

  • 19.
    Laura said…

    It is hard to see our children struggle with fitting in. I don’t always know what my role is – how to support her decisions and encourage her to take risks.

  • 20.
    Ellen Coker said…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings and perspectives. My heart seemed to be able to feel and hear each story.

  • 21.
    Jennifer said…


    I teared up a lot while reading your words. My son has Asperger’s and is 7 years old and I am starting to notice more of a social gap also. There are times when I get so sad watching him try so hard to interact with his peers and not understanding why they make fun or don’t want to play “his” games. Thank you for reminding me to watch for the other things…when he is happy…how much he loves his mama…how much he loves his games. You inspire me to be a better mom!

  • 22.
    Sue said…

    The greatest thing about kids is that they bounce back. The greatest thing for Simon is his family. He is so lucky to have such a warm and caring Circle to surround him. (It is hard to watch those kiddos who don’t have this and often flounder on their own). Ali, Simon WILL fly and he WILL stumble, but each step is a learning step. As for all of us, his path is HIS path. Continue to Love him, Encourage him, Direct him and Accept him. He will make his way. Watching his grow has been a priviledge and I know I speak for others-We are so proud of him. The trip looked great and I am so envious- as a mid-westerner, beach adventures for us include a 12 hour drive!

  • 23.
    Kathleen Loughran said…

    The honesty is what you are not saying touches my heart.Warm hugs and thoughts to all of you.

  • 24.
    Norma said…

    I can so relate to your feelings Ali. It is so rewarding, yet so heartbreaking to see them grow and move toward independence. I vividly remember my painful mix of emotions when my oldest very gently and clearly trying not to hurt my feelings told me that he’d really like for me not to go on his 8th grade field trip because he’d like to see what it was like to not have a parent along on one! I have to keep reminding myself that this is my job- to prepare him to spread his wings and fly on his own (well, without Mom anyway but always with God of course!)

  • 25.

    it’s so hard watching them grow up….my girls are a bit different than most and didn’t really fit in with anyone at school. they complained all the time about having no friends and getting teased, bullied a bit….this year was our first year of homeschooling and they LOVED it. so happy I made that change as this area (and our schools) are a little shady!
    much love to your mama heart!

  • 26.
    kelly said…

    My almost 12 year old son was mentioning to me on a walk that he is not at the “top” of his world but he also is not at the “bottom”. Hard to hear those words from him. I feel for you Ali. This parenting stuff is tough and not for the tender hearted sometimes.

  • 27.
    Andi Sexton said…

    Hello sweet Ali….

    I LOVE the photos! We are over in Eastern Oregon and our charter school does a 6th grade trip for four days to get this same experience!!!!

    And.. I am mom whose son has some difficulties with the majority of his peers. (I also have a 13 year old daughter, and she is very social and has absolutely no problems in this area). My son is 12, and this was his ‘tough’ year socially. He is the smallest, gets picked on, and is often in his ‘own world’. He is not a tough, sports loving kid. Although he was on the basketball team this year, and lives and ‘works’ on a ranch. Nope. He is the Lego boy, or the boy who plays with Magic tricks, or that reads huge novels, and is super smart and ‘out there’ when it comes to how things work. And…he has a heart. A heart of gold. He just needs to find ‘his people’ and I told him, there are tons of people that have the same interests and he will find them as he gets older and gets around more people. We live in a very rural area, and at times it has its disadvantages.

    My heart goes out to you. I think as mother’s our pain exceeds our children’s. And we both gain from ‘getting through’ the difficulties.

    Peace to you.

    • ….
      tracey said…

      Oh my goodness, I feel like you’re describing my son (age 10). (I also have a daughter (8) who is socially comfortable.) It’s tough, but we’re learning and growing together…

  • 28.
    Cindy said…

    I’m in the same third grade boat with a special needs kid. Big hug. You’re right that if he’s happy, that’s what matters.

  • 29.
    Karen said…

    My son just turned 11 and has PDD-NOS. The social aspect has always been a struggle for him and although he’s made great strides in speech, motor skills and other areas, I would say that’s the biggest challenge for him right now. My heart breaks when he tells me that no one wants to play with him or that someone called him names. To me, he’s the smartest, funniest kid and adults get him far better than other kids. I try my best to be a substitute but I can never be that as I’m his mom, not his peer. I just hope and pray that next school year that he will have at least just ONE friend. Ali, if you ever watch the show, The Middle, on ABC on Wednesday nights there’s a great episode where the mother spends the whole show trying to find a friend for her youngest son (who’s a lot like my son). It’s bittersweet for moms like us but it’s also a funny show. I love it. It helps to keep a sense of humor–otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.

    • ….
      Karin Podolski said…

      Karen, that was a great episode on the middle…..

    • ….
      aliza said…

      It is a great show, in general. My husband and I watch it with our kids and my mother in law. It might be the most real depiction of family that I have ever seen on TV.

  • 30.
    Mary in IL said…

    God put Simon in your family for a reason Ali. You are raising him as He would, and letting others like myself see and learn from you. Thanks to you, Chris, Anna, and Simon for allowing us to be a part of your family. Hugs and prayers to you all. :-)

  • 31.
    Bethany said…

    Ali, I encourage you to record it all – your story, his story, and the intersection of the two. One day, you’ll be glad you did and so will Simon. Others who love him (for example – Anna, his future family) will too. It will document how much you love Simon in the difficult times and you will have it recorded that you always stick with him even in the hard times. As a child, you can’t fathom how much your parents love and care for you just the way you are. But, when you become a parent yourself – everything clicks – you understand your parents love in the goods and the bad.

    • ….
      Jenn Serrano said…

      Bethany, I love your comment.

  • 32.
    Suz said…

    Your post reads as though your day was bittersweet…filled with all kinds of emotions…ones that tug and pull and snap on the heartstrings of a momma protecting her cub and teaching it to make it’s own way in the world.
    You are doing a great job Ali! Prayers and blessings to you and your family!
    Have a j.o.y.-ful day!

  • 33.
    deena said…

    When I first read this I thought it said 2 hour BIKE ride. Wow that would have been torture. I’ve learned that most of the time its harder on us moms than the kids. :)

  • 34.
    Alexandra said…

    Hugs and love to you and Simon :)

  • 35.
    Sherry Wright said…

    Your post really spoke to me. My son has Autism (Asperger’s) and I just came from a field trip with him. As you said he had fun and I loved watching him, but seeing some of the interactions with peers broke my heart. Sometimes I forget that Autism is a part of our life, but then sometimes it’s so obvious my heart breaks for him. Big ((hugs)0 to you both! tfs

  • 36.
    Cindy B. said…

    Oh Ali! I feel your pain. It is so hard to witness your children in pain or other kids just being plain mean. My son is 12 and wants to quit school. Most kids play football in our community – - he loves soccer. He gets called a “grass fairy”. He is kind and sweet and says hi to kids in the hall and they tell him to shut up!
    It is heartbreaking! Our best times are when we spend time as a family. In the end… will be the thing that matters most!

  • 37.

    Ali – as always, thank you for sharing – for telling your stories even when all the words aren’t there. Your words and pictures are inspiring even when minimal.

  • 38.
    Pam said…

    I feel that you have said it all without having to say it. This post really touched me and I too can relate so well.

  • 39.
    Debbie S. said…

    I think the social challenges are some of the hardest things we have to deal with as parents. It’s so hard to see your child struggle during the challenges and harder yet to figure out what action to take, if any. Last year, in my daughter’s second grade class, a group of kids began some pretty intense teasing and excluding of an autistic classmate. That group behavior is so shocking, and it can really get you down just realizing that it’s there among 8 yo’s. Luckily our teacher was awesome and handled the situation by talking to the class as a whole (w/o the boy present) about their behaviors and their effects. They owned up to the behaviors and apologized to the boy. But it’s awful to imagine how these experiences hurt our children. Hugs to you both.

    2 hour bus ride each way? MAN! That’s taking one for the team!! :) (Love the cool bandana!)

  • 40.
    Jenni Hufford said…

    your words are so touching and authentic– truly the heart of a mother who fiercely loves her son. sending love and hugs. xo

  • 41.
    Mary Smith said…

    My 8 yr old son’s speech therapist has started a social group therapy group for 3 of her patients that have Aspergers and PDD-NOS. It has been wonderful, the boys have really bonded and started to want to do things together outside of therapy. They learn all about social skills and it has really helped our son. He hates when he has to miss it. They all accepted each others quirks and I feel like they can be themselves at speech group. It’s one of the best things we have done!

  • 42.
    Kirsten J said…

    Ali – I don’t know first hand how tough it is…but my daughter plays softball with a girl who is “somewhere on the spectrum”. She’s really high functioning, and I’ve only had light conversations with her parents, but they’ve expressed to us so many times how much they appreciate that my girl has their daughter’s back. The other girls on the team just know Nat’s “different”, and they’re mostly very supportive, but avoid her all too often, especially the giggling girly stuff. We carpool when we can, and my girl takes every chance to include her and help her. We’ve talked so much about autism and asperger’s and how she can help Natalie. The team sport has been really good for Nat, and it’s tough sometimes, but she really has a great physical ability, and whip crack sharp reflexes…she’s a great softball player, and she’s on a select team! She just has some trouble switching gears, is best at certain positions, and socializing is rough on her, and sometimes she’s just in her own world. I hope for Simon that he can find that one *thing*, maybe with a good buddy to look out for him if needed.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I can’t tell you how much it means to that family that your child is friendly and “has her back.” That is huge.

  • 43.
    abbeyviolet said…

    So touching. I love how honest it feels and that it is OK to admit that it is not all roses and pretty paper. So true for all of us and so hard as parents, but so glad you are with him in it.

  • 44.
    Tona said…

    I agree. Bottom line is that all that really matters is that Simon is happy. You’re such a great mom!

  • 45.
    Robyn said…

    I hear ya. I often think of my son’s social delay as a mixed blessing. He has no idea where he stands socially and is a happy little guy for it. But if he DID know…it might help him grow socially. It’s a HARD one though…being a mama.

  • 46.
    katie said…

    Simon is so blessed to have you, a mom who is able to be by his side on these days that are out of his regular routine. Prayers for you today….

  • 47.
    Jane said…

    “He’s getting older and the kids are getting more socially sophisticated and that gap is getting bigger.”

    This line just jumped out at me. I have two siblings (twins) with autism and intellectual disabilities. I remember when the boys were children their quirks were perceived as “cute”. But as they became older, “cute” became “weird”. Their quirks became a reason for people to tease them, or avoid them. It was, and still is, hard to watch my brothers get older and see that social gap widen into a cavern. My brothers are now in their 20s, and yet still have the social skills of young teenagers at best. I see kids in their peer group heading to university, travelling the world, falling in love and getting married, and my brothers both still live at home and work in a sheltered workshop for people with disabilities. They don’t have the social sophistication to negotiate a long term relationship with another person. If I dwell on that gap too much, it makes me cry. So I focus on their strengths, their passions and the things they excel in (like taking old electrical appliances and somehow getting them to work again!) They are both two remarkable young men, despite their disabilities.
    The older Simon gets, the more that social gap will widen, and it will hurt your heart to see it. But your sweet boy has so many good things going for him, including a family who loves and celebrates him. Keep focusing on his unique strengths, and he’ll find his sweet spot in the world.

  • 48.
    Molly said…


  • 49.
    Mefi said…

    heartache. as a mother of two under 3 years, i know i will come across times like this in the near future. your post is reminder about what our children really need .. us.

  • 50.
    Jenny A said…

    Ali, I could have written this myself. My Vincent is in 5th grade and has autism as well. Even after months of therapy with a Behavioral Specialist to work on social skills, Vince still struggles with making and maintaining friends. It is who he is. It is harder for me to watch when he is all by himself in the morning before school. But for Vince, it really doesn’t bother him. I always have to remind myself that it bothers me more than him. On the other hand, Vince has no problem with any social skills when it comes to his younger 8 year old sister Olivia. To hear them playing, running and even fighting around the house is music to my ears. I know Vince has it in him to socialize because he does so well with his sister. He just chooses not to socialize with his classmates. At the end of the day, as long as Vince is happy, then I’m happy. I always ask every night, “Are you happy?” The one perk I have with Vince having autism is that he does not lie :) He will always tell me if he is happy or not happy. And it is such a relief to me that 99.9% of the time, he tells me he is happy. So even though it bothered me that Vince was eating by himself at school, it really doesn’t bother him. And that is all that matters.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      He sounds very much like Simon :) .

    • ….
      Tas said…

      My heart ached reading this. Felt as though you were looking right into my heart!

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