If you’ve met one child with autism … you’ve met ONE child with autism. Well our young man made the leap to middle school and we were on pins and needles for the first week …
- will he make the transition between classes OK?
- will he learn and remember how to open his locker?
- will kids tease him?
- will we have ANY idea what’s going on – what’s working, what’s not with so many teachers?
In our case, Justin doesn’t really have behavioral issues that would draw attention – no meltdowns, no stimming, no anger issues. Doesn’t mean he isn’t challenged with processing everything, but its more internalized for him. Easier for people not to notice. He’s also pretty polite and follows instructions, so would not naturally draw attention because of his behavior.
So the first couple of weeks passed and we were feeling pretty good. Likes his teachers, good transitions, sitting with a couple kids from elementary at lunch, etc. Whew! What a relief. The teachers we met and his case manager have been kind and supportive.
Now we are into the third week of school. Past the mechanics, into the academics. And its getting bumpy, and I’m getting more and more uncomfortable. Trying to let go of the nervousness and know that we will work with his teachers to make adjustments that help him succeed. But still troubled … for now.
Wrestling with and reflecting on questions like:
He’s present, hearing the lessons, and taking quizzes … but is he LEARNING?
Some of the recent results suggest maybe not as much as expected. To quote him: “my brain just got all jumbled up with those quizzes.”
My perspective on kids with developmental delays – particularly our own – is that its our job along with their teaching team to redefine success to meet them where they are at developmentally and help them grow from there. To redefine the rubric for success based on their ability – stretching and challenging them of course.
For school, and particularly for Justin, to me it means:
adjusted learning goals
+ good learning environment
+ mental focus
= SUCCESS, progress and positive reinforcement
If these things are true, then how can a child who is really applying themselves and working to the best of their ability fall short of expectations?
When we see him applying himself and trying hard and the results and feedback don’t match up, then I have to wonder what is out of balance? He’s such a smart boy but needs more time to process things, and maybe its all just coming a little too fast ?? He really wants to achieve and to make us proud, so we have to find a way to make it clear that his efforts are worthwhile. It’s important for his morale and his psyche. None of us want to work hard and do our best only to feel like we still can’t hit the mark, right?
So we are embarking on a journey to get this darn learning equation back into balance. Meeting with his teaching team on Friday to start the discussion and hopeful of some course adjustments to get things back into balance. The sky is not falling, I just want the very best learning experience for the little guy. He deserves it. I’m hopeful …