I’m in a bad place…why? Because my sweet boy is in a very bad place and I am partially responsible.
I have given him the necessary language.
I have made him his own best advocate.
I have coached him, encouraged him.
I have believed in him.
We don’t know what his ‘version’ of autism is.
I read information about Autism and recognize him.
I read information about Asperger’s and recognize him.
I read information about Sensory Processing Disorder and recognize him.
My boy is struggling and it’s because I care so much…maybe too much.
Let me walk you through my yesterday.
We had a great school year until two weeks ago. I knew this because we use a Google Doc for a rubric so I am able to see his reactions and any comments from his teachers about his major goals which are:
- I stayed on task in the classroom.
- I paid attention to what I was supposed to.
- I responded to teachers and associate in a respectful way.
- I followed directions the first time.
- I want to ask or tell my teachers:
I know, I know – the list kind of makes me giggle. Six years ago (1st grade) my goal was for him to have no more academic, PT, OT, or Speech Therapy goals. We’ve worked hard and one by one they have fallen away. We still have behavioral goals – and probably always will. I have worked hard to keep this IEP just in case he were to fall behind.
Anywho….I would have been horrible at #1 and #2. Good at #3. Okay at #4. #5 is the most amazing for him – simply because it gives him another voice. Regardless, we have been slipping the past couple of weeks.
My phone rings (See Day 59 – Pause, Revsited
) for my response to the school’s number coming up on my phone. I answer – it’s not a good call.
He had a blow up again – mostly in response to the ‘rising to your potential’ workbook that he’s been working through with his special education teacher (See Day 58- Pause)
. He stormed out of the classroom and no one knew where he was for at least 10 minutes. (This is actually *fairly* normal – I know it sounds bizarre but it’s a strategy we use to allow him to calm down by himself rather than someone harping on him for behavior he cannot control). The problem was that he didn’t have a ‘safe place’ already designated. Whoops – that was a MAJOR oversight…we’ve had a ‘safe place’ since Kindergarten.
Finally, the behavioral interventionist found him. They talked. She called me after they talked to give me the run-down and then she let me know they would call me over lunch.
I thank her and hang up. The tears begin. I send my husband a message to call me as soon as he can. I’m trying to figure out what is really going on. The thing with the spectrum though? You never know. It’s not easy because there are so many moving pieces and parts. It’s like putting together a puzzle without a picture. It’s even more frustrating because it’s trying to help the person you love the most in the whole wide world…but knowing you don’t know how. That feeling is excruciating and beyond frustrating.
The more I think about the day, the pieces, the feedback…the more I’m able to somehow find the edge pieces of that pictureless puzzle.
Part of the problem? The idea of ‘potential’ in this workbook is too abstract for him – he doesn’t (and I’m pretty convinced cannot) get it. It’s like telling him to do his best – he cannot gauge what that is…but if I give him a list of quantifiable tasks he can easily check them off. (See Day 63 – Identify? Easy. Solve? Difficult
Here is what I *think* is going on with Tucker…
1. We tell him that he is not ‘like’ the other students in his special education classroom. He is ‘high-functioning’ (I really dislike that phrase) and therefore, has higher academic expectations.
2. We tell him that he is not ‘like’ the other students in his regular education settings, so he has to go to the special education classroom.
He’s 12. He’s an adolescent. He’s in 7th grade. He’s in the most difficult part of life – the part where you begin trying to figure out who you are. If the two above points don’t prove an identity crisis – I don’t know what does.
My husband calls. I shut my office door and try to talk through the tears. He says to me…’You’ve done so much of this alone. I promised you would never have to do it alone again. The first six years you worked hard to get him into 1st grade. The next six years of baby steps brought us here. We’ll do the same now. Side by side. You AND me, baby steps to help him through the next six years. People are amazed by his abilities because of your work. When he turns 18 he will continue to be amazing because of us-him, you, and me. I’ll be thinking all day about how we can help him. I love you.”
Well…that’s it…tomorrow’s post will be about that amazing guy.
It’s 12:01…I’m waiting. 12:02….I’m waiting. 12:03…I’m waiting…
Finally at 12:06.
I hear Tucker through his tears. We talk. I assure him that what he is feeling is normal and that all of us need a break from time to time. I tell him it’s important that we know where he is…that Waverly, Iowa seems like a safe place – but we still want to make sure he is safe. We designate a safe place. We talk more about potential and how he is trying – and how we’ll talk more at home. By the time the call is done – I can hear my boy again.
We hang up. I send him an email that I don’t necessarily like lunch detention phone calls, but I sure do love hearing his voice in the middle of the day.
He responds: 🙂
I send him another message to remind him to keep his wrist loose because we’re making pancakes for 30 people tonight (confirmation).
He responds: 😀 hehehe
He’s back. I can breathe.
We’ll get through this…just baby steps towards another goal, another six years.
Stay tuned for how we’re going to do that….