Monday, December 10, 2012
Some Sort of Rude Awakening?
Feeling a lot more like Autism Mom these days.
I had a parent meeting with my son’s teacher. She seems to be a nice enough woman, and I was impressed with her insight. Disheartened to realize her insight far surpassed mine, and that I was a bit unaware of how my son struggles and that I haven’t been communicating with the staff very effectively. Yeah, maybe I blindsided these very competent professionals by sticking an autistic child in their class without any, you know, hints or cheats on how to deal with him. I don’t know though. I feel like… perhaps… I needed to rule out the idea that, armed with some foundational skills, he could just follow a normal developmental trajectory from here on out, or something, I don’t know. I don’t know.
Ehhh. I’m having a hard time fully processing our first parent/teacher conference. The day before a staff member at his school had made a remark about my son being in special ed. Since my son is NOT in special ed and I haven’t even disclosed any sort of diagnosis with them, I was alarmed. I was suddenly very afraid that my son was very behind all his peers and nobody cared because this was just a little supplement to his special ed. So I wasn’t in a very clear frame of mind when this meeting took place, and I braced myself for gloom and doom when his teacher turned the subject to “areas of focus.”
So now I am not quite sure how much emotion and misinterpreted connotation might be wrapped up in what I actually heard her say. Nothing was very surprising on a factual level—it doesn’t surprise me that sometimes he is unresponsive to questions, especially regarding abstract subject matter. I could tell from the birthday party he attended recently that his peers talk a lot more and use more complex sentence structure. I also know that he is nice and incredibly friendly, and sociable, sooo… you know. He will learn from his peers and start to catch up??
The teacher gave me some insight that made me think that maybe it won’t be that simple. Perhaps I’ve been assuming that because he can talk, and because he has tenacity for overcoming communication barriers, he must be doing all right, socially. The teacher even agreed that he gets along with everyone just fine and all the children are friendly with him. But he isn’t forming very meaningful relationships with these kids because he cannot sustain interactions with them. He is quick to escape any situation that is uncomfortable. I’ve made some sort of presumptuous connection here that led to a wrong conclusion. I have a bright, socially motivated little boy who has enough language and self care skills to get along just fine in regular preschool. That does not mean that he will easily keep pace socially with his peers. And I KNEW that, but I guess I thought at the preschool level, it wouldn’t be a problem. And now I’m like, “Aw, shit, do we need to stick him back into therapy??”
That’s something to think about, but it’s also clear that he has benefited from his time so far at this school. I still see a child making steady progress, and on top of that, he’s practicing a bunch of school related skills with real live typical peers. So, you know, in the long run, when he’s entering kindergarten a year and a half from now, with 2 years of intensive therapy and an additional 2 years of educational and social experience… then how will he fare, compared to other students? What kind of troubles will he have, then?
I suppose the answer is, “Well, who the hell knows. Fucking duh.”
Well. I just have some things to think about. I have to figure out just exactly how much time and money and emotion I need to invest in things additional to his hours in this preschool. I have to figure out what exactly to do with these investments. Do I contact the school district to set up an assessment? Maybe I call his developmental pediatrician? Is an assessment even top priority now??
And honestly, should my focus be on my son’s issues right now? How much of the problem may just be on the parental end? I mean, I really need to get my shit together. I ruled at figuring out my kid’s diagnosis. I RULED at quickly figuring out a plan of action and getting him into therapy. I ruled at keeping a good head. I don’t know that I rule at being a parent with clear and consistent boundaries and expectations. I don’t know that I rule at planning several steps ahead, and being fully prepared when new problems emerge. Without the structure of therapy appointments, it’s like I’m slipping into this laissez faire style parenting, and it’s easy to feel positive about it because I’m a free spirit and my son’s a free spirit… but he’s a free spirit without any framework to work with, you know? He has a hard time regulating his emotions. Typical behavior doesn’t always come naturally to him. He needs some guidance, or life’s gonna kick his ass. Oh, man.
All right. I’ll sleep on that, for now.