Autism, Aspergers, Rob Gorski,Special Needs Parenting, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Fibromyalgia,



Sep 14 2012

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I don’t need your help to feel guilty

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It’s been a little while since I have been inspired to really sit down and write something with the hopes of really getting my point across. Having said that, I feel compelled to address something that I feel very strongly about.

The other day I shared something I found on Fox News. It was a story about a 5 year old little boy with #Autism who was denied lunch because his parents were a few days behind on the payments (see: FOX News: School Denies Autistic Boy Lunch Over Billing Issue).

I had to ask myself, how does something like this happen? 

How can a grown person, look at a child and deny them food? Does this have anything to do with the child having #Autism or is this just the way we treat our future generation?

The school calls is an oversight. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

Regardless of what happened, I was really surprised to read some of the opinions from my readers.

One in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.

A comment was made that the parents were irresponsible for not paying the lunch bill on time and that somehow they weren’t making their child a top priority. I’m paraphrasing here, you can read the comments in question at the above link.

It was insinuated that these were bad parents.

Personally, I found this to be quite an arrogant thing to say.

Not only did it show a complete lack of compassion but also a complete lack of understanding for what it takes to be a special needs parent. We also have absolutely no idea what else is going on in this family’s life.

The commenter never stated whether or not they had any experience in special needs parenting and honestly, I doubt they do.

To me this shows just how much work we, as a special needs community need to do in order to better educate the masses.

Should the parents have paid the bill on time? Of course.

However, there is an entire laundry list of past due bills on my desk. They are left unpaid for a multitude of reasons. However, none of those reasons have to do with being lazy, irresponsible or being a bad parent. I have no idea why these parents were behind on the bill but I’m willing to bet it didn’t have anything to do with bad parenting.

What people don’t seem to get is just how all encompassing, special needs parenting is.

Speaking only for myself, I don’t even know what day it is half of the time. We have been known to miss appointments, be late on school related bills and even live out of a laundry basket in the living room because the clothes never make it to the dresser. 

Does that make me a bad parent? If so, than I guess I’m guilty as charged.

While I’m far from the perfect parent, focusing on my weaknesses ignores all of the things I do right. I would like to think that the things I manage to accomplish, far outweigh the things I drop the ball on, although it never feels that way.

I can go days on end with only minimal sleep because one or more of my children can’t sleep. I can also drive hundreds of miles every week to and from appointments for my kids.

Let’s not forget the hospitalizations and or medical/behavioral emergencies I deal with all the time.

I know that these things are not foreign concepts to many of you out there as you experience these things for yourself.

I could go on and on, listing example after example of how and why something like getting behind on the school lunch bill could happen. However, I don’t think it would make any difference to those out there casting judgement without any knowledge or first hand experience of what life can be like as a special needs parent.

I’ll leave you with one final thought.

When you feel the need to judge a special needs parent for something they missed or a mistake they made, remember that we judge ourselves harshly enough already. We don’t need any of your help to feel guilty, we do a more than adequate job on our own. 

About the author

Lost and Tired

I’m Rob Gorski and I started this blog in January 2010 as a means of sharing my family’s real life journey raising 3 boys on the #Autism Spectrum. It’s important for people to understand what Autism can really be like and the impact it has on the family. We aren’t a TV show and there are no actors. This is our struggle, our journey…and it’s all true. I am “Lost and Tired” and this is “My Reality #Autism”.

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Ok, I just have to comment on this because I have been told multiple times that my daughter is going to be denied lunch if I don't come back and pay THAT day. The problem is the freaking lunch lady never gives me the notice until my daughter is ten dollars in the hole, so if I innocently forget the check at home the day after I get the notice, she starts threatening my daughter with starvation! why not give me the notice when she has ten dollars left?! I give the woman $80 at a time, so you think she could give me some notice! Ok, thank you for giving me the opportunity to rant about this 🙂

Aspiemom 1 Like

I have four kids, one with autism.  We get behind once in a while.  The school doesn't let us know what is up until there is a negative balance.  We have no way to track what is in the accounts, although the kids can request a balance (they never do).  Also, a couple of our kids are old enough to get stuff off the ala carte table, so they can spend more if they want, which I have a problem with.  In any case, we get the notice, we send a check in, and the last day or two are paid up.  Why was this kid denied food, when the bill was just a few days behind?  That's weird.  I find that people who get overly preachy are directing attention away from their own shortcomings...they would be well served to get over themselves and join the world of mortals...


When I am out sleep walking in walmart I have been known to on multiple times freak out and wonder if I even brushed my hair. I say she's fed and alive. I'm doing my job. That's about all I can handle. I had no recollection of weather I paid the internet bill this month. I had to go look. I am so sleep deprived I'm in tears. I was in the shower and I have a damn rash from not bathing enough. Though I recall bathing.. but it's not a priority. when I wake up it's because she's screaming. No time for a shower. When I go to sleep it's because she's been screaming for 5 hours and finally passed out at 5am and I'm too tired to do anything but survive. People have no damn idea.

HeatherESedlock 1 Like

I think y'all are missing the point. The point was made, we do NOT know why the lunch bill was "not paid." What if it was and the school's lunch provider's records were WRONG. How would you feel judging then from your moral high ground?Sometimes times are that tough. Be thankful you *have* the ability to WORK for a living. It's no easy feat raising two special needs boys on a budget because I"m unable to work. My doctor refuses to let me work and believe you me, I miss it dearly! I could earn far more than what I manage to scrape together every day. I'm lucky though--my children DO qualify for free/reduced lunch program so I never have this worry. however, I do know at my son's school (I homeschool the other one) that they NEVER let a kid go hungry.. the staff of the lunch program gives to the child whatever the child needs, regardless of "Cost" and let the parent settle up later. They often have "extras" that go to waste anyway. And no, it's not too far fetched for a parent of an autistic kid (I have classical autism myself) to think that his or her child was "picked on" by adults because of their autism alone and refused food. It could be as simple as because the child had autism, he or she could not adequately explain the lack of money situation at home, or "my mom gave me the money but I lost it" or what have you that other typical children can do. It may be straight-out descrimination.The fact is, we do NOT know. NONE of us are in that child's home to know what the parents are like and what the school did or didn't do. Why is it so easy to judge another based on our own selves and actions? We're not all alike, we're not all capable, especially in this economy. If you're family has three sources of income, get on your knees and thank God right now--I know folks who are ACTIVELY looking for a job and can't get one. And are in desperate need of one.  JUST ONE. Be thankful not judgeful that you have a better life than others. 

Carlyoung 1 Like

As a father of 3 special needs kids, and the spouse of a special education teacher, I know all too well what it means to do without.  There have been months where I have had to decide between purchasing the medications used to treat my chronic illnesses, and putting food on the table, or paying the light and heat bill.  As parents of special needs kids, we judge ourselves harshly enough without someone else judging us as well.  Thank you Rob for putting this out there.

Latest blog post: An important and awkward conversation about testicular cancer

lostandtired moderator

@Carlyoung thank you Carl for everything that you do to make the world a better place. 🙂

Latest blog post: Third times a charm

oizys 1 Like

I've been late to pay the bill.  It had nothing to do with being lazy and irresponsible and everything to do with being a single mother with 1 income and poor health insurance.  When the choice is taking a kid to the hospital or being a day late with the lunch account, what do you do?  My ex husband was laid off from his job.  My kids rely on me alone - there is no family to ask - for everything.  It's a hell of a heavy burden.  


When things were worse I was in the position of deciding who got to eat - the kids or me.  I was already walking to work since gas cost too much.  THAT is a hard hard place to be in....I hope the critical folks on this comment thread never have to make it.  

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AngelFire 1 Like

 @chefaimee So I guess if you don't get a reminder that your mortgage is due, you don't have to pay the bank?  Part of being a parent is making sure that your kids are fed...not blaming everyone else for not reminding you to have money in the account.

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AngelFire 2 Like

I am a special needs parent, and my children are my TOP priority.  I work 2 jobs, my wife works 1, and we find time to care for the kids (without daycare or special provision) and pay the bills.


I think the absolute most important bill on my to-do list is feeding my children.  Groceries, snacks and money in their school lunch account is at the top of my list.  How can any parent send their child to school with a zero balance is beyond me!  What do they do...rely on hope and the kindness of strangers to feed their children?!?


How arrogant is it to assume that because you were delinquent in depositing money, someone else will pay for your child's lunch. While it's not the child's fault, the funds have to come from somewhere.  Where does the school draw the line?  5 free lunches?  10?  50?  Who pays?  The other parents?  The principal?


If people have children, they have an obligation to care for them.  If they don't have the money for school lunches, they should make alternate arrangements with the church, social services, or send their kid to school with a bag lunch.  To do anything else is irresponsible!!!


And to theorize that the child in this story was treated differently because he has special needs is crazy.  Do you really think the school would have provided free lunches to a non special needs kids, but they intentionally treated this child differently because he's autistic?!?  Let's be realistic.


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