Life in a family of nine neurodiverse individuals: How we do it, why we do what we do, helping you do it too. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters, compared to what lies within us." - Oliver Wendall Holmes
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Reflections Approaching Graduation
Today, I have a meeting at the school, for son 2's performance review, in which the district justifies his graduation despite goals unmet. That sounds a bit extreme, perhaps, but it's the process. His unmet goals include turning in assignments on time and frankly, turning up for school. Hasn't been a strong suit. But I'm all in favor of his graduation.
I am for it because 1. He's done his time. I think by now we all realize that he is at least "typical" enough to know that if he doesn't graduate this year, it's going to be embarrassing for him. I think it's also safe to say that he is NEVER going to be the Pavlovian dog running for the bell. That conditioning is, for him, aversion therapy. Teaches him to avoid the bell, and the best way to do that is to not be there.
2. He does fine when he's creating his own structure, and will even use the timer on the stove to help him switch activities at appropriate times.
3. College is a lot more scheduling yourself, and not so much running for the bell.
4. This district has not been supportive, but critical most of the time. It's been not so much understanding, but frustrating, for both him and his teachers and case manager. Primarily, because they have to work within the structure of high school that his brain cannot wrap itself around.
I know the law says he could stay till he's 21, but I hardly think that would be advantageous. He would not turn up to be there in a place he hates with people whom he knows are a year behind him. The thing about son2 is that he has always asked, like a corny method actor (whether in word or deed), "What's My Motivation?"
He's motivated for college, because he is slightly perseverative on money. Not only does he collect coins, but he also has saved enough to buy his own PS3. He is not a wanton spender. Therefore, the fact that college means he's paying for his education should be motivational. Also, he wants to be able to support a family in 4 or 5 years. ( That may be a bit of a pipe dream, but we're going with it for now.) So money is important.
I believe that this young man could be and do anything he sets his mind to. I look back over the years, and I remember the little toe-walking boy, the "Where's Waldo" obsession, Thomas the Tank Engine.... I also remember the young man who donated all his savings to the St. Vincent de Paul Society when his Catholic school class took a field trip there. I remember the boy who didn't want the glory or notoriety of being an altar server, but instead has opted for the past 6 years to go an hour early to Mass and shovel the sidewalks, salt the ramp, and help with building preparation. Who volunteered to clean the outside of the rectory. Who came up with a plan for himself and his best friend (another Aspie) who is into computers and programming and writing software. They are going to take over Microsoft. Friend will write the software, son 2 will be the corporate lawyer that does the hostile takeover. Look out, Bill Gates!!
Through the years, I have spent time teaching practical skills, and intuitive skills, and writing skills, and finding formulas in everything I could to help him cope. Though he wasn't diagnosed with Aspergers till after he had turned 13, we still treated symptoms, because that's what parents do. I've seen growth, and regression, pride and pain, laughter and tears. Through it all, he hasn't stopped growing up. He's done it slower, perhaps, than his peers, but he's growing up. And I am proud.
I remember "tiny Shiny", the boy with the heartmelting eyes, and I look today at my Sean.... in awe. For everything that the toddler promised, the man is become.
I'm a mother of seven, ages 22 to 6. They all have special needs of one variety or another, hence my interest in parent advocacy.
Despite special needs, every child has their own needs, and all children have some things in common. You will find here rants, raves, excitement, tears... things all parents go through. You will also find acronyms that special needs parents know, as do the professionals that work with our children. My hope and my goal is to provide experience, strength, and hope, as well to learn from comments and receive your experience strength and hope.
I don't have all the answers, but between us, we can find them!