Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"I love you mom."

You must know how rare it is for a teenage boy to voluntarily say, “I love you mom." It is probably even more rare for a teenage boy with Aspergers to say it, unsolicited and actually mean it. Imagine my shock when it happened yesterday. 

I picked him up after a rough day at school. He had been working on a group assignment over the past couple of weeks for his Spanish 3 class. Group assignments have never been a picnic for Blue. I’m sure the same holds true for many people with Aspergers. There’s all of that social communication that has to take place, along with compromise and listening to other people’s ideas. This can prove to be quite difficult for a person who usually thinks that his ideas are best. However, collaborating with others is a skill that we all eventually have to use in life.

I must say, he’s come a long way working on group assignments. He took this project on like a champ. He was being a leader at the same time, willing to accept and actually solicit ideas from peers. Unfortunately, they were not all as accessible to do their parts of the project.

The blooper in the mix of this assignment was not arguing with peers, but dealing with a less than flexible teacher. A teacher who I may punch in the face, if we ever cross paths. Most of his assignment group are in the high school band.  They had an intense week of performances, competitions, travel and rehearsals. Blue having empathy for his overworked team mates, tried to take on the brunt of the work for the project. A task that was nearly impossible to do. 

They ran out of time and the project was not complete. The teacher supposedly said, she would give them extra time. She then later decided that their band obligations were “not her problem." So, she recanted her offer. At least this is the way that Blue describes the situation. Who knows what kind of miscommunication actually took place. 

He called me that morning fuming about this teacher! What I noticed was that even though he was very upset and probably wanted to call her every name in the book, he didn’t. He didn’t yell, scream or curse. I think he may have said something like, “I hope she gets run over by a truck.” Not really …I’m the one who thought that.  

A few years ago, he would have been screaming, “Come get me out of this hell hole! This teacher is a total bitch!”  

Instead we did some quick problem solving...

“Who can you speak with to help you communicate with this teacher?” I asked.
“I looked for my tracking teacher, but she’s not in her room.” 
“Do you think you could find Ms. B.?” (the Special Ed. Lead) I asked.
“Try to do that, I’m sure she can help you communicate,” I said.

This is progress for both of us. I wanted to call that teacher and give her a piece of my mind and a reminder about his I.E.P. and accommodations. Instead, I gave him the opportunity to advocate for himself, which is an important skill for our kids on the spectrum if they want to go to college. 

I read a great article about preparing our kids for college yesterday on VOX.com titled, High School Sets Up Autistic Kids to Fail In College -How to Fix It. The article clearly states that our kids need to be a part of their I.E.P. process and they must learn self-advocacy. Colleges won't even allow parents to have a say. 

When I picked Blue up from school, he looked exhausted. Thanks a lot daylight savings time and the teacher who gave my kid a tough time. 
"How did everything go? Any solutions?"  I asked.
He explained that Ms. B. e-mailed the teacher to make sure that his I.E.P. would be followed. However, after school he had a “difficult conversation” with the Spanish teacher. “It was really draining to talk to her,” he said. 
Blue and Me in Malibu
Summer, 2015

OMG! I was so proud! He handled things calmly! 
As we drove to Starbucks so that he could work on homework he said, out of nowhere, “I love you mom.” 
What? *Tears  
“What made you say that?" I asked, calmly, trying to act like this was not a huge deal. 
“I just appreciate that you’re always on my side.” 
*More tears. 
“I always will be son.” 

Pow! Take that stupid Spanish teacher! Thanks to your inflexibility and trying to bully my kid. I got an unsolicited, “I love you!” Bam! 

*No teachers were injured or cursed out as a result of this story. In fact, I may not punch her in the face after all. I may just do the kind, Christian thing and say, "Thank you for being difficult. The result was fabulous dahling."