The Denver Autism Wheel

Posts Tagged ‘willingness

The secret of my success so far: I just stick my big ol’ head in the door and introduce myself.

Hi: I’m Autie Mom Kate.

So we went to visit the middle school last week. I’d been there before, to talk to the SpEd coordinator and staff and otherwise stick my big ol’ head in the door. But this was Chris’ first visit.

I’d hesitated to really talk up middle school. I remember it as one of the most unhappy times of my childhood, and to read some of the popular fiction in the libraries lately, I’m not alone. My desperate prayer is still, “Please, don’t let him get locked in his own locker. Please, please, let the kids be kind and compassionate. Please don’t let him come home crying.”

But Chris ate it up with a spoon. He followed the tour, asked questions, cracked jokes. Granted, it was our first visit, so it was after hours, and not as part of a big group. He told me afterwards he’s looking forward to Art, Computer and Math. Not a big shock there. But he’s also looking forward to something very important: standing on his own two feet.

The school district has made it clear to us that Chris won’t have the constant one-on-one para support he’s had as an elementary school student. And, as much as that’s intended to sound ominous, he’s really excited about the idea.

Ambivalent Autie Mom isn’t so sure just yet that his anticipation is well founded. But I’ll give you this: he deserves the right to try. I asked him a while ago if he thought he could finish his schoolwork on time if he didn’t have an adult reminding him to get back on task (he can start assignments, but it can be hard for him to keep his focus all the way to completion). I was very impressed that I didn’t get the “automatic yes” he thinks will get people to stop talking because he said “yes” already. He thought about it, and then said, “I don’t know.” For him, that’s not adolescent dismissal. That’s a considered response. And it’s honest. He’s never had to do it on his own, so he wouldn’t know. That’s why I want him to find out: he deserves to know.

I’m pretty sure he won’t be good at it at first. It’s like any new skill: riding a bike, swimming, finishing a whole book. When he started on any of these skills, frankly, he was pretty wretched at it. But he had to do it. With the bike, we insisted. He doesn’t have balance issues, so we figured he would get exercise and mobility out of the deal. And yes, he was dismal at first. Didn’t want to, it was too hard, didn’t like falling down or being sweaty…but he had to do it, so eventually he did it. And now: he rides, he swims, he reads. Just fine. He deserves that kind of…what, motivation? stubbornness? inflexibility? insistence? when it comes to his schoolwork. He’s just got to do it because he’s just got to do it. It’s not going to get easier as he moves through middle- and high school (hopefully college, grad school…).

And the kicker is this: now, he wants it, too. It’s not just us pushing. It’s him pulling, too. So my prayer has grown a little, to “Please, please let him get this, too.”


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