Audrey* is a little girl who goes to my kids’ daycare. She is about 8 years old, but cannot speak a word and still wears a diaper. She is a baby in a big girl’s body. The other kids refer to her as “special”.
A few weeks ago I was reading and cuddling with G before bed, when I kissed her and called her my special little girl. She looked up at me, seemingly offended, and stated, “Mom, I’m not special. Special is just another word for mean.” She told me that Audrey was so mean to the other kids, and that no one wanted to play with her. It made me sad to think my daughter was being mean to a “special” child, so we spent the next few minutes talking about how Audrey couldn’t help herself and that G should be her friend. Being the naïve mommy that I am, I thought that our discussions of Audrey were over – that G was suddenly going to be friends with this poor disadvantaged girl and everything was going to be ok. But then, a few days later, as I was dropping the girls off for the day, Audrey attacked.
Every daycare morning, I take the girls in, sit them down at a chair, and give them something to eat for breakfast. I had just sat Brynlee down and gone to hang up their coats, when out of no where Audrey attacked poor Brynlee. She came at her from behind, and pulled her right off of the chair. Poor Bryn flew off backwards, hitting her head. Of course she screamed, and I felt awful, but I comforted her and explained that Audrey didn’t know what she was doing. Still being naïve, I assumed it was an isolated incident – that maybe Audrey just wanted to eat some of Bryn’s food.
Over the course of the next few days though, I casually observed other issues with this girl. I saw that she seemed to pick on the toddler-aged kids when they were all together in the morning. I would also hear stories from G about how mean Audrey is, and what she has done to the other children. Each time I explained to G that she needs to be patient with Audrey. I still wasn’t overly concerned because the classes are only combined a few minutes in the morning and at night – the girls aren’t around Audrey for most of the day.
Yesterday when I showed up at the end of the day, the classes were combined. As I came up the stairs I could hear Bryn crying. I saw Audrey attacking Bryn. She was pulling on her clothing and her hair – and poor Bryn was terrified. All this was going on while a man, who I assumed to be Audrey's father was watching. I broke up the fight, and decided that it was time to talk to someone. I was starting to worry that my sweet, not-quite-two-year-old was the target of attack on a regular basis.
So, I pulled aside the afternoon teacher. She’s a lady I know fairly well, as she has a child in both Bryn and G’s classes and we’ve gone her daughter’s birthday party a few months ago. I felt like I could be frank with her, and get an honest response. I expressed to her my concern, that Audrey was too rough to be combined with the little kids. She agreed with me, and then confided in me that she can’t handle Audrey, who suffers from both Down’s syndrome and severe autism. Audrey picks on the toddlers, and is pretty much out of control. She also went on to tell me the sad story of how Audrey has no parents. Her dad has never been around, and recently her mom left her with a mentally-challenged uncle as her guardian.
And now my heart is breaking. On one hand, I feel so sorry for this little girl who obviously has no chance in life. On the other hand, I’m worried about the safety of my own, sweet girl who is the target of Audrey’s rage. I just don’t know what to do. The obvious answer is that Audrey needs to be in a special facility that can care for someone with her disabilities. But I’m pretty sure the best her uncle can do is the daycare center. So, I need to propose something to the center so that my little girl is protected. It would just kill me if she did something bad to Bryn.
Since yesterday, I've racked my brain for a solution. I barely slept last night, because I couldn't shut my mind off. I just don't know how to handle this. I really don't want to move my kids - this is the only daycare in town, and its only 6 blocks from work. My kids love their teachers and have lots of friends there. It would be devistating to them if they had to move. I also don't think the center is equipped or staffed to handle a child with Audrey's needs, and I'm sure her uncle cannot afford somewhere that is. So, what do I do?
*Names have been changed