Jul 01

Moving Along

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, parenting.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 1st, 2010

M- is now in his sixth week of living on his own in an apartment in the city.   I haven’t been to his apartment since week four;  R- has picked him up on Friday to come  up here for Friday night through Sunday morning, then R- takes him to church, and then ice-skating.   (The Sunday bus schedule makes it impossible for him to navigate apartment to church, or even count on a bus home from ice-skating.)  Last week, M- managed both legs of the afterschool trip to the ice rink and then home to his apartment.

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Feb 28

More Progress

Posted: under communication, education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  February 28th, 2010

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.

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Feb 07

And to top it off…

Posted: under education, life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags: , , , ,  February 7th, 2010

I posted last week about our son’s first “solo” day at community college–during which he coped with bus rides, transfers, a broken-down bus, classes, more bus rides, etc.

What I didn’t know ahead of time was that he would have a paper-and-pen quiz in his pre-algebra class.   On which…wait for it…he made 100.    Right after the bus trip on which one bus broke down.

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Feb 04

College: Third Week & solo

Posted: under communication, life on the spectrum, parenting, socialization.
Tags: , , , , ,  February 4th, 2010

We’d planned to have a parent ride the buses with M- and be available nearby on campus for the first month…but a combination of things (including M- commenting on the way home one night in the second week that he thought it would be more fun when he could go alone)  led to this morning…we dropped him off at the bus station 20 miles closer to the city, where the express bus runs to downtown.  From there he would transfer to a local headed back north and end up at the campus.   He was supposed to call us from campus when he arrived, which should’ve been about 8 am.

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Mar 24

Working with…superhero saves kid

Posted: under interventions, life on the spectrum.
Tags: ,  March 24th, 2009

When an autistic child, on the first day in a special needs school, gets upset and crawls out a third floor window and won’t come in, you hope for someone like this Thai fireman.

Some points to consider:  the boy’s mother (not the teachers) knew that his favorite superhero was  Spiderman.   (When in doubt about what to do with an autistic child in some situation, ask the parents–they really do know more about that child than anyone else.)   Mr. Somchai, the fireman, had the costume and clearly didn’t worry about the possibility that some adults might find a fireman in a Spiderman costume a little…silly.

Sometimes, working with children with autism, we need to be willing to risk our dignity (one of the hardest things for adults to give up–we worked so hard to get it!)    But to make that contact–to make the social, human linkage work–it’s worth the risk.

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Dec 13

Unexpected Kindness

Posted: under life on the spectrum, socialization.
Tags:  December 13th, 2008

Famiies with an autistic member are used to the opposite–criticism, ridicule, denial that the individual has a “real” problem, scorn, etc. We often don’t get kindness where we most expect and hope for it–from family, acquaintances, members of a faith community. But we are also occasionally touched with unexpected kindness by strangers, and this seems like a good time to mention it…and learn how to be kinder ourselves.

In a hotel in New Zealand, about ten years ago, our son was sick–had, we discovered, a serious ear problem that required surgery before we could leave (we had to change airline reservations and plans, as well as find a surgeon.) Everyone–the hotel staff, the surgeon, the surgeon’s staff–was patient with us, gentle with our autistic son.

Once when I was buying shoes for our son–at an age where he was very stressed by stores and nonverbal and I was trying very hard to prevent a meltdown while still getting the shoes–the woman who brought out the shoes said ‘You do so well with him–” and I nearly burst into tears. (Mothers of autistic preschoolers don’t get many compliments.)

There was the shy construction worker who said “Don’t worry–I have a co-worker who can’t talk and he’s one of the best, and so kind–your son will do fine.”

The woman at church (when we finally found an autism-friendly church) who called me up to tell me how much she enjoyed having our son in the congregation. (Burst of happy fireworks on that one!)

Every one of the incidents I remember, though not always the faces and names (i have a face-recognition problem that’s only gotten worse with age.) Little sparks of light down the years, wonderful little bursts of hope and joy that made going on seem possible even in the most difficult periods.

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