Fear of Lock-down Drills with Special Needs Children

Please know that I see the worried look on your face when you realize your child and mine are in the same class. I know what you are thinking even if the thought hasn’t fully formed in your head. I know, because I have had those same thoughts. 

Parents, I owe you an apology. You see, my son is autistic and while he is mainly non-verbal, that doesn’t mean he is silent. He makes noises often and most often when he is stressed or to show annoyance or anger. My apology is in no way for his diagnosis but for what that could mean if our kids are in the same class.

The drill

Today is the lock-down drill day at school. My son is three and in the I-peeps class. This is his first time doing a drill where he will be in the bathroom with his two teachers and three classmates. They will not follow the morning schedule. They will not walk to the cafeteria for breakfast. This change in schedule will upset my son. He will make it known that he is not happy. As I write this or think about this I cry. You see my son could be the reason your child is hurt or worse in a school shooting. Maybe, as he gets older and more verbal it will get better. Maybe he will do great today and I am worried for no reason. But deep down, I want you to know, I worry too.

We’re all family

I see the kids in my children’s classes as family. My older children’s classes are like distant cousins; I don’t see them often but I know some of what is going on and I wish them well. But the I-peeps class is like nieces and nephews. Because I watch them tackle hurdles that are huge. I watch non-verbal kids start talking. Also, I watch their motor skills improve. These are my son’s first friends and they accept him for who he is. I love them.

I hate this is the world we live in. Likewise, I hate that teachers are in a position to choose the lives of children they teach over their own lives. These drills are stressful for all parents. We all hate them and the thoughts they bring up. The pictures of those beautiful babies from Newtown; the smiling faces of almost-adults yet still children of Parkland. All we can do is pray. I pray for our children are safe. I pray our teachers are safe. I pray for these drills to remain drills. And as a special needs mom, I say an extra prayer that my son stays quiet.


Brandi Eatman was raised in Ohio before moving to Florida in 1999. She has been married for ten years and has three children. On the weekends, Brandi and her family enjoy being outside and going to all the area beaches, and they are avid college football fans. Brandi is a photographer who loves to read and spend time with friends and family and enjoys her almost daily boot camps. Her guilty pleasures are crime tv shows, tacos, too much cream and sugar in her coffee, and Ohio State football.