Yesterday I received the message from Tucker’s Special Education teacher, “Do you have time today to talk about Tucker?” Normally, this strikes fear in the heart of any parent – for those of us who have children with something a little extra going on? Even moreso. These calls are not often positive – reread #Day 59 – Pause, Revsited or Day #65 Six Year Puzzles.
It was half positive and half negative (I guess I could write ‘constructive’ instead of negative). We needed to putting some finishing touches on his IEP for next year. What growth have I seen? What do I still see as growth potential?
We had a great conversation about behavior…that he’s different because his ‘misbehaviors’ are not him trying to get out of work. His ‘misbehaviors’ come from his sensory and social struggles, these factors affect his ability to learn.
We had a great conversation about how that’s difficult to define and describe to those who don’t necessarily ‘get’ him.
We had a great conversation about teacher’s in our district who work to ‘get’ him.
We had a great conversation about the skills that we still need to work on…
- Building Confidence
- Accepting Another’s Viewpoint
- Understanding How to Take Criticism
- Initiating Conversation
- Asking Questions
- Asking for Help
Tucker is an amazing human being and all of this work we are doing will make him even more amazing. In fact, sometimes I wonder if having his ‘version’ of autism is an advantage? Seriously.
- How many adults do I know that have trouble accepting another’s viewpoint?
- How many adults do I know that have trouble accepting criticism?
- How many adults do I know that have trouble starting a conversation with someone?
- How many adults do I know that are afraid to ask questions or to ask for help?
Tucker gets to receive more intensive therapy because these behaviors do not come naturally to him. Unfortunately, for others – they do come naturally, but folks simply choose not to use those skills. I began thinking about how lucky Tucker is – that he gets time to learn and practice these skills – that he gets to spend time understanding why these skills are important.
Does that mean he’ll be ‘better’ at these skills than the majority of us? Dare I say, yes?
Yes. I believe that with all of my heart, mind, body, and soul.
I believe that he’ll have a ‘leg up’ because he will have had time to think about and study human behavior. I couldn’t help but think about my Group Communication class. When we work through and talk about what makes a ‘good’ group member – someone who is positive AND productive. Someone who…
- Works for consensus within the group
- Invites the more quiet members into discussion
- Shares their own feelings, thoughts, and opinions about the problem at hand
- Has concern for others in the group
- Builds trust between group members
- Takes responsibility for mistakes/problems
- Listens intently and tries to understand someone else’s point of view
- Provides encouragement
- Is tolerant of differences
- Is able to understand conflict through an issue (not personal ) perspective
- Encourages others to assess/evaluate own behaviors
- Clearly communicates the goals/objectives of the group
- Understands the ‘underlying’ tones and conflicts within the group
I have to tell you…I’m smiling as I write that list. Not because he already has those skills, but because he will spend extra time with professionals learning and understanding those skills.
He’s at an advantage, no doubt. Many of his peers will simply be expected to know and ‘do’ the skills on that list.
Then, this morning I open up my news feed and this appears, “Microsoft announces pilot program to hire people with autism.” An excerpt, “This week, we announced another exciting effort, a new pilot program with Specialisterne, focused on hiring people with autism for full-time, Redmond-based Microsoft positions. It’s early days but we’re excited to get going and we know we’ll learn a lot along the way. Why are we so passionate about this space?
It’s simple, Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers. People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code. It’s a talent pool that we want to continue to bring to Microsoft! (http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2015/04/03/microsoft-announces-pilot-program-to-hire-people-with-autism/)”
YES YES YES YES!!!
Tuck has these skills, ‘the ability to retain information and think at a level of detail and depth’ and now we’re spending intentional time understanding and practicing those ‘soft skills.’ He’s going to be unstoppable, I just know it.
As unstoppable as Captain America.
He may possess no superhuman powers; but he has been mutated to his own ‘perfect.’