The Winter Concert had just ended and my husband, 2 other kids and I sauntered down with the rest of the 4th grade parents to pick our kids up from their classroom. When we walked into the classroom I was not all that surprised to see my son hiding behind the bookshelf. There is something about standing on risers in close proximity to 60 other students, trying desperately hard not to get distracted by the student that was singing just *a bit* too loud, that sends him into stealth mode. We’ve found out the hard way before that the last thing he can handle at that point is a big hug. A high five is pushing it. Touching it general is a no, thank you. Lobbing praises his general direction is highly preferred and appreciated.
On the flip side, a big yes, thank you, would be said to leaving and getting him into a calmer state of mind where the bells and whistles going off in his head would slow to a dull roar. If I could throw in some lego building, or reading, or at the very least a general detox from the noise and people, the bells and whistles-stopping time would be cut in half…..at least.
As we thanked his teacher and turned to leave, we heard: “Hold on a minute, I want to talk to you guys after everyone is gone.” Gut check.
As the last child trickled out, my son’s teacher said: “I just wanted to say that I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with your son. I don’t think he needs to have services for autism anymore.”
“I mean, he’s being taken out of my class to go to social thinking groups and when he comes back he seems to be worse off than when he left. He is missing instructional time and we miss having him here in Science class because he knows so much and challenges other kids to want to know more….he even asks me questions that I have to research and get back to him on the next day!”
Yep, that’s my son. The one that asked me yesterday to tell him about the Pythagorean theorom. Hey, at least I knew that was an actual theorom…..whatever a theorom is;-)
“So, you’re saying he doesn’t need to be taken out of class anymore?” I said.
“I think it’s doing him more harm than good”, his teacher explained.
I’m embarrassed to say that my first reaction was to embrace this theorom (see what I did there?). I think my husband could see the excitement in my eyes, because he stepped in with reason and explained to the teacher that our son does well in this particular class because his class is highly structured. But, not all classrooms are like that, and so to say that he doesn’t need assistance at all is going a bit far.
After some soul searching over the next couple of weeks, I realized that it was time to figure this thing out once and for all. My son “only” had a school-based diagnosis of Asperger’s but he had never been tested medically for it. As I thought ahead to middle school and high school I knew that there was less structure ahead for him in his schooling career, not more – and that meant the opportunity for more spectrum-y behavior. I called my son’s doctor, who agreed with me that it was time to go through the autism clinic testing.
So, now, we are on the 6-9 month waiting list to see what the ins and outs are of his diagnosis and how to best serve him as he is getting older and gaining more and more freedom.
I feel guilty that, for a second, a world without a child on the spectrum was something I coveted enough to ignore my motherly instincts and 10 years of experience with my son. I need to remind myself of the mantra I’ve told my son so many times: “God made you this way for a reason, it’s not by accident. You will change the world in a way that only you can….and I can’t wait to see what happens along the way.”