Friday, September 26, 2008

Falling Through the Cracks

I have this one problem about my son. As you know he has mild autism and he is developmentally behind his typical peers (I guess?). I mean I know he is not academically level with his peers and he is in a special needs classroom most of the day. But I really do think that every year he is making significant gains. At least we notice at home. He talks to me about everything, but I know he doesn’t do this at school. His language skills still need some refining, but he’s coming along. He loves to ask questions (at least to me) and likes to learn about things: ask him about any animal, he’ll know it all. He reads very well and we encourage him to do so... So, life is good, until we see someone he knows from school in the supermarket. Like yesterday afternoon.

He will be moving along with me, most of the time pushing the cart around and freely selecting his foods. Then "the big shut down." I already know the signs. He either has spotted an old teacher, aide, or classmate of some kind, and it’s like he’s a different, more challenged kid. Ugh!!

No wonder why teachers and aides don’t believe me when I say, “He’s not as disabled as you think.” (defend, defend, defend) When I say shut down, its almost like he can't even keep up with me when we walk down the aisle. He certainly no longer talks. Usually he rules the roost when we shop—telling me what he wants, taking over the shopping cart, there is definitely a bounce in his step. Just like at home, he is so independent and can do everything. So I'm thinking that he "acts" disabled either because he is shy or he is getting away with not working to his fullest potential at school (you know: the "label thing")--I’m thinking the latter.

I know this because one day an old aide of his spotted Nick at the market and came up to me and said , "Wow, I didn’t know Nick could even talk. " Jeeeeeeez!! Can someone throw me a bone? I spend so much time looking like a crazy woman trying to tell these teachers, aides (or any stranger who will listen), that he is doing great, understands quite a bit, and can talk, talk, talk our ears off. Okay, sometimes he obsesses about topics but he is getting better at having good conversations with us.

The difference between school and home: at home he can open a can of anything and microwave it and have it for snack, put his dish in the dishwasher and take out the trash. Then go to his room and hang up his clean clothes and send the dirty ones to the laundry room. He could do his own laundry if my washing machine knob wasn’t broken off and required a pair of pliers and a little good luck to work the darn thing …

And at school: “Well we would like for him to learn to at least clean off the counters …”


And the latest “easy” work coming home from school doesn’t impress me one bit!!

Next year is high school for him. I am starting to look for an alternative school than the “life skills” program that he is currently in. Maybe Tech. Ed?

Anyone going through the same thing—that their high functioning autistic kid is falling through the proverbial cracks? Any recommendations?


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog- there are many things I want to say- first, your are a very good writer and your poems are very moving. Second, it is very hard to raise children, but to raise a child with autism is the most difficult job, I think you have done everything in your power to be a great mom and truly care for your children. I think your are a very strong warrier mom and all your efforts will pay off for your children. Just to let you know - there are many people who really do care and are willing to help- just let us know what we can do- your friend- I think you should publish your peoms.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Thank you for your comment. It was very nice to hear.

autismfamily said...

My son Nick is in 7th grade, I held him back in first grade. Anyway since third grade he has wanted to attend the Los Angeles Zoo high school magnet, it is a college prep and has under 300 students, which sounds doable for him.

Good luck in locating a HS for your Nik.