I left the gym, I had to, because the music made me uncomfortable. I stood by the door.
I saw an apraxic struggle. I saw a nonverbal student being pushed through a door in a frenzy of movement, everyone shouting at the same time, bent over with hands thrusting at his back, pushing against the doorframe and struggling to stay upright. I saw too much, too much.
I saw a blur of movement and sounds coming at me from every direction, I saw the ceiling the doorframe the floor somebody's hands everyone shouting. I saw the final thrust through the door, met with bright lights and cheering, everyone applauding the nice save!
I saw dizzy and disoriented.
I saw what he saw.
I saw a classmate who couldn't respond to prompts because they were coming too fast, and who couldn't comply because everything was being thrown at him at once.
They saw defiance. Headbanging behavior. A tantrum.
I saw a student trying to block out external input. I saw. Everyone else gawked and chattered as the other kids did the warm-ups. I stood by helplessly.
I saw a humiliated man sitting against a wall in a corner, helpless and outnumbered, with no way to communicate.
I saw what he saw, the flash of students flying all around me and I saw people surrounding me, cheering, cheering for the aide as though it was some big victory to drag a student back into a classroom. I saw the world whirling around my head and it hitting the wall just to drown out the noise.
I saw that nobody was asking themselves how he might feel. I didn't just see the defeat, though, the lack of dignity or respect; I saw humiliation. Oh, yes, I saw. Pain.
I watched in horror. I felt for him. I felt with him. An aide, concerned that I had left, asked me if I was ok. Then she smiled at me knowingly. Chuckled, "He's having a little fit."
No. That's not what I saw.
I saw an overwhelmed student trying to escape a hostile environment. An attempt to find a safe place, or a bathroom, or some water.
I saw a hasty and disjointed "rescue" that fried his emotions and ability to think. I saw visual, auditory, vestibular and tactile input slam him like a truck. I saw vestibular upheaval, and I saw desperation and fear and frustration because nobody understood, not one of them.
They saw a fit.
They didn't see what I saw.
We stayed that way for about a minute. The bus rumbled down the street, curving around the corners, my hand in his.
They said I helped calm him down.Sometimes people underestimate what it means to acknowledge someone's humanity. To see it. I don't know what they thought my gesture was, but we knew what it was. A show of solidarity. A quiet one, not a trumpeting fanfare, but a whisper. I know.