If you follow my Facebook Page you might have seen that Bubby graduated 8th grade last Monday. He is now on his way to high school next year. It's not been an easy journey for him in any sense. He has struggled so much through school, and all of the misunderstanding that came with teachers, and staff not understanding his unique needs. I didn't always know what he needed, and I sure was not always able to get the school to accommodate him when I did.
Still, he made it this year with all A's, and B's. The transformation that was nothing short of awesome in every sense of the word.
At the beginning of last year it was rocky. Starting middle school is hard for a lot of kids, but it was 20 times harder for him. The staff didn't understand him, and the kids were, well..... typical middle school monsters. I don't know what happens to kids in 7th, and 8th grade, but the attitude is something from hell. It's not just some kids. It's almost all kids. I have to guess it's puberty. It makes them so difficult, and bratty.
There was one para. She was really awful. The kind that probably shouldn't be working with any kid, much less with autistic kids. She was pressing all of Bubby's meltdown buttons on a daily basis. It took meetings, and more meetings, and an unfortunate incident that had me so enraged I called the principal yelling, but I finally got them to understand that she cannot work with my son. The two together were not a good match, and if the school day were to ever go smoothly for him, and let's face it his resource room in which he belonged, they needed to find him another para. I bring that up, because of something the boy's slp said to me the other day. She had mentioned that (and I am paraphrasing here) she was so glad to work with Bubby since he was in first grade, and see such a smart, funny, sarcastic and just nice personality emerge from him as he has matured, because often boys with Asperger's (her words) kind of turn into jerks.
Now, hold on before everyone starts getting all angry about that comment.
I somewhat agree with her. Let me explain why.
If I had left Bubby to struggle all those years the way the school said he needed to. The way everyone said he needed to (oddly enough including the slp, before I think she knew better), and not have stepped in to protect him from all the demands he might well have turned into a jerk. Most especially if I had not gotten that awful para that constantly pushed his buttons purposely away from him it would have caused some significant damage. I see it with all the time with other kids.
Some of you might be wondering what it is that he needed differently that the school was denying him. Mostly a full understanding that he does things differently, and if he is not able to do something it's because he is not understanding, or is anxious.
No homework. Period. Ever. Not ever. It can't happen. It won't happen. He exerts himself all day in school to epic proportions. He NEEDS home time to be home time.
Modified assignments, and not a word, or attitude about it from teachers. He's not lazy. He is smart/capable of class assignments, and we all know that, but he processes things slower, and writes slower. It takes him up to 5 times longer to complete one assignment than it does the average student.
Moved to the special ed room for subjects he has a hard time in. This allowed him to be more flexible in his ability to do assignments in a much smaller classroom setting.
What happens when a child acts out repeatedly, whether that be by melting down, or whatnot, but the environment stays the same, or worse! The child is punished for expressing the best way they can that they're under stress is that they internalize the anger. They learn they aren't listened to. They learn they aren't safe. They learn they aren't respected. Is it any wonder that when they get older their attitude isn't stellar toward authority? Why would they trust people in authority, or anyone else?
We were really lucky that Bubby ended up bonding with his special ed teacher, despite their rocky beginning. They really found out that they had a lot in common, and I owe so much of Bubby's middle school success to him. It's funny how at one point I thought was so close to pulling Bubby out of school due to how badly things were going, and how things turned out so well. I'm glad I didn't. He finished middle school successfully. :)