Hello Wonderful Reader,
It’s almost the end of 2012 and I reminiscing about the past and Bird’s life and challenges and the present stresses. I hope this will help some of you.
This has admittedly been a really tough year for us with change of school for the first time in 7 years, hormones just now kicking in, middle school pace and life in general. Many of my friends have expressed that 2012 was pretty painful for them and I concur.
I wish I had known that middle school was going to be so fast paced or I would have increase the number of hours from this past summer so Bird and I would have doubled our academic time. Our focus this summer was just language building and he worked about 7-12 hours a week but should have worked 20 to get his math word problems, pre-alegrbra, taking notes during lecture and writing longer sentences with better hand writing and grammar. These are all things which add up to many night of 2.5 to 3.5 hours of homework. Executive function is also an issue right now with 7 teachers and different classes every other day so prioritizing what needs to get done first and what could wait a day.
The kids in middle school are a mixed bag of more engaged/interested in Bird and more obnoxious. Bird now sits with kids everyday at lunch and most of the time it’s the same kids but occasionally he will go to a random friend for a day or two and then back to his old group. It’s great because many times in elementary he would sit by himself so he is no longer the biggest outcast and sadly someone else wears that title. Some kids still bully him a little in a couple of classes. We are working hard on his sisters strategy of ignoring the little shits but this does not always work. Going to the admin may or may not work but we are waiting to see as this is a new tact. Overall responding to these kids is likely what will motivate more abuse so my hope is that he considers who he engages with a little more but we shall see.
The work load in middle school is triple elementary school going from Laurel Ridge to Robinson. The work is not just busy work but also much more complex with novel language making the time required to explain things to understanding (not just for the moment but for keeps) far longer. We are working on the heritage scrapbook right now and it will be 20 pages long with birth/death/marriage certificates/immigration papers/old photos/a family tree and info on our own lives currently. This is actually great because we have so many opportunities for building language like matrilineal, patrelineal, descendants and offspring (not the band though I do love them). This project will in total take about 22 hours and half that time will be 1:1 so that we can work on understanding who is related to whom and what their life was like which seems pretty easy for most people but Bird has always struggled to understand familial relations and retain names, faces and relations of pretty much all people who are not historical figures on a larger scale.
As for our IEP in middle school it is being virtually ignored. That will likely change as I seem to have a small following of FCPS employees (these are teachers or admin from my sons school system for those of you in other countries) who check for the word middle school on my blog. Because Bird is all team taught classes I frequently get to remind teachers of his accommodations (after he fails a test that should have been read to him which he then aces or after he is given a test with non-simplified language that his teacher ignores my repeated requests she warn him or simply read aloud). That being said his teachers are great for the most part and January when I go in to speak with the admin (who now know this is coming and will I am sure prepare) to have just one or two of his IEP goals worked on…we shall see and I will let you know. Thankfully Bird is pretty independent and we work really hard with him at home to help with the lack of follow through on his IEP…which I doubt they realized even now. My heart goes out to those who have parents with less time or less knowledge of how to help their kids or kids who have more needs.
With that said he has come so far that I can’t begin to tell you how shocked and happy we are that he is growing into a young man we love, respect and admire. God did not have to give us such a great kid and while I don’t deserve him I do appreciate him. I know parents with older kids who really do not wish to see them and rarely speak to them and it is my highest/hardest goal to raise people I want to vacation with in 15 years.
Waxing nostalgic here are somethings I did not think he could achieve if asked about his future when he was 4 that he is now able to do:
Fly anywhere without a huge scene
Make a sandwich (truly important skill for independence)
Think about wearing shoes or a coat before leaving the house
Reading just reading
At age 6 I would not have thought he would now
Have more than 1 friend (in fact he has 7 or 8)
Speak on the phone for more than 7 minutes in a back and forth not prompted phone call
Ride a bike alone through our neighborhood
Enjoy Miss Marple, Rosemary and Thyme and Sherlock all from BBC television
At age 8 it would have surprised me to think that he would now
Go away to camp for a week by himself without brother, father or mother and do great
Go skate boarding alone and with friends
Have a pen pal and be the person really driving that relationship
Order a Duck/caramelized onion and fig marmalade sandwich on purpose
Be on grade level in middle school
At almost 12 and a third (he is young for middle school) I don’t have anything to add to this list. I believe will all my heart that Bird will go to college, date, become a professional, marry, have children and become an amazing member of his community a good father and great husband.
The spectrum is HUGE with people who vary greatly. Still parents should have BIG DREAMS for their kids and work really hard to see them reach their full potential. Your child’s potential might be nuclear physicist (my uncle looks very Aspie and that is his occupation) or kitchen helper. Both of these jobs are important and require skills which you at home should love your child enough to learn and MOST importantly follow through on. Going to classes does not mean you have done jack for your child but putting the daily effort in does. We are offering a class on January 15th 2013 from 6:30-9:30 on Managing Problem Behaviors with Lesley Harvey Bates a truly worship worthy teacher/therapist and woman. Consider going to http://www.poac-nova.org so that you (like I will for the 8th time) attend a class to make a change in your child and your world. ABA works, the rat is not wrong and data back up fact or you can’t verify that it is a fact!