More Progress

Posted: February 28th, 2010 under communication, education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
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At the end of the first exam period–six full weeks of classes–our son took his first “big” exam, in the pre-algebra class.   Since he had work hours this week on several of the days exams were given,  he had to take the exam on a Saturday (not a usual class day.)     He said he felt prepared enough for it…and though students had an hour and forty minutes for it, he finished in 35 minutes with a score of 89.   If that had been the only triumph of the week, we’d all be delighted…but it wasn’t.

We had snow–less than other parts of the country, but unusual for us.  Although we were able to drive him the 20 miles to the bus before it really started coming down, we could not make it down that far by evening.   I had already arranged with friends for someone to pick him up and take him to another friend’s house to spend the night (it was supposed to clear the next day, which it did)   if the snow meant we couldn’t make it to the bus.   I’d also arranged a time to call him and let him know which plan was a Go.   He was delighted (it was clear) to hear that he’d be staying in the city overnight.   He handled his classes that day; when the last was canceled, he worked on his homework until his ride came.  He called me from C-‘s car to let me know he was on the way, and from R-‘s house when he got there.

Both C- and R- commented that he was pleasant and cooperative the whole time each had him.   I took R- to lunch with us the day I picked him up, and he had no problem making his selection from the menu, including foods he doesn’t normally get at home.

Two days later, I met him near the ice-rink with his skates (I drive to the city on Thursdays, bringing his skates, and then drive back out after the rink closes.)   This time I met him near the bus stop (the meeting that didn’t work well before) and he recognized me.  Crossing the street (which has a median) he didn’t pause and look from the median, and I commented on that.   As usual when he’s told he’s made a mistake of some kind, he looked upset and very worried, but a few minutes later, he thanked me for reminding him of a safety rule.   That’s never happened before.

So…since he started classes, he’s shown that he can ride the city buses, including making transfers, and he can cope with changes in the plan (a bus breaking down,  where we’re meeting, needing to stay in the city overnight.)   He has worked on his homework every day (his father has checked some of it with him, and made sure he knew how to access the online site for doing homework in math)  but mostly he’s completely on his own with it now.   He has one long bread between classes, and we told him he should use that time to study, as well as for lunch–and he does.   He is increasingly able to tell us what’s going on in class.   He has done well on in-class quizzes in math (the math class is the most organized of his classes), and has talked about his “Transition to College” class in a way that shows he understands and is using the advice given there.

His demonstration of more competence has given him more confidence, too: he’s now beginning to talk about what he might take later, when he’s past the non-credit courses he must start with.

It feels to me that he’s made more progress in the last two months than in the previous six to eight.   Only the math class had a six-weeks test, so we’re still uncertain how well he’s doing in the other two classes, but we’re certainly delighted with the progress in more than one area.   The overall maturity…the increase in initiative and responsibility…all bode well for the future.

What makes it heartening, in a way, is that he is still obviously (to any parent of an autistic kid)  just as autistic as he was–he still has sensory processing issues; he still has language issues; he still has gaps in social skills–but he is increasingly able to cope with those things in a way that still lets him learn and advance.  In other words, it’s not necessary to ‘cure’ the autism to learn to manage its effects  (any more than I had to ‘cure’ my very near-sighted eyes in order to see: I needed glasses and needed to learn how not to break them every week or so.)


  • Comment by littlefluffycat — February 28, 2010 @ 8:49 am


    I am grinning all over my entire face. How awesome. 🙂

  • Comment by Jenny — February 28, 2010 @ 11:05 am


    Yay! What an exciting time:) It’s so amazing how kids can exceed our expectations!


  • Comment by Malin Larsson — February 28, 2010 @ 11:52 am


    This is very interesting to hear, and I never cease to be amazed by people who are strong enough to face challenges such as this, whether it is someone paralysed that learns to walk, desperately shy people who travels to colleges far off or otherwise ‘hindered’ people.

    I’m also curious, have you read Flowers For Algernon? That book touches upon the subject of ‘curing ailments’ that perhaps shouldn’t, and doesn’t need to, be cured.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — February 28, 2010 @ 5:09 pm


    Thanks! That’s my reaction!

  • Comment by Elizabeth — February 28, 2010 @ 5:11 pm


    Sometimes I’d like to line up all the people who said “He won’t ever…” or “He can’t…” and similar things, and make them look at the real person…yes, he could, did, and has.

    I’d also like to show those who were a help early on, but aren’t around now–one therapist, a couple of his preschool teachers, etc., because they deserve to know that their faith in his abilities was justified.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — February 28, 2010 @ 5:12 pm


    I read Flowers for Algernon many years ago when it was new, but haven’t read it in decades.

  • Comment by Mrs Redboots — February 28, 2010 @ 6:05 pm


    So delighted to hear it. You must feel so proud of him!

  • Comment by arthur — April 6, 2010 @ 2:05 am


    This is Arthur. My dad read The Speed of Dark and really liked it. He said that it gave him a lot of insight into autism he’d never had before.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — April 6, 2010 @ 9:00 pm


    I’m always glad when the book helps someone understand autism better. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — May 17, 2010 @ 5:28 pm


    I just watched the movie A Horse Boy, about a family who take their six year old autistic son to Mongolia in the hope that Mongolian shamans and the boy’s own affinity for animals can help him to make some difficult adjustments. I’m guessing you will have seen this already. If not, I think it would interest you.

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