Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raising an "Aspie"

The honeymoon, it would appear, is over.

I’m not talking marriage here. My wife and I get along just fine, in our own odd little hermetical ways.

We’ve got a kid struggling in school and a teacher who seems content to want to teach responsibility by remote control rather than by example.

This isn’t going to turn into a harsh beat-on-the-teacher rant, so don’t get all riled up. We know our little snowflake in question isn’t perfect. He’s kinda lazy in a few respects, in fact, much more intent on having fun than doing homework. So he’s gonna get kicked in the rear for that. And we’re going to try a few things – including a written checklist for him to take to school on which he can record his homework assignments and ask the teacher for clarification as needed – to help him be more responsible.

But we’ve also got a teacher who isn’t behaving all that well, either. We really had to go until midterms to find out our son’s got some low scores because of some incomplete and missing homework assignments – and the only thing the teacher can tell us is that she likes her students to learn responsibility?

We do to. And think that responsibility thing ought to apply to teachers as well.

Our school participates in Power School – a handy little electronic database that lets teachers put day-to-day grades on a parent- and student-accessible Web site so we can all track progress together. Responsibly. This teacher, however, opts not to use Power School, preferring the stealth responsibility approach.

Our son is an Asperger kid. We don’t use that as an excuse for his laziness. We do, however, expect that a teacher who knows of this diagnosis ought to perhaps go a little further in helping the kid to know what is expected of him at school.

We can talk to our kid and make sure he’s doing his homework and set aside time for it and help him as we may while at the same time making sure he’s doing the work and learning as he should, but if the kid consistently forgets or misunderstands what is expected of him on his homework, we’d like a little help from the teacher – who knows precisely what is expected – so we can model the responsibility our kid needs to learn.

His teacher admits she’s got five or six other little boys she has to help in this regard. She can’t add one more to the mix? She can’t pick up the phone or shoot us an e-mail to let us know what’s going on, preferring instead to wait until midterms to reveal the problem? That’s not helping. That’s not responsible teaching.

And it’s affecting our son negatively. He wants to do well at school, but he’s the type who will immediately say that his teacher hates him – and avoid going to her for help – when he’s called on the carpet. That’s a typical Asperger response that he’s yet to develop coping skills for. But not to recognize that the social aspect of his condition can and does have effects on his learning is detrimental and not conducive to helping him learn responsibility if part of that learning entails having to interact with a person whom he perceives as thinking he is stupid or incapable, which is the message he’s getting from his teacher whether that message is the one being delivered. I’m sure she’s not telling him he’s stupid, but that’s his perception, and we’re going to need the school’s cooperation to help him come up with coping strategies for his difficulties and to get him beyond thinking like that. This social aspect difficulty is now impacting his learning.

Part of that learning is exploring what other parents are doing to help their “aspie” kids. I’ll be doing a lot of reading at sites like this weekend, just to see what we can do to help our son and our teacher and ourselves see eye to eye. To eye.


Delana said...

Thank you for posting this! We have recently come to terms with the fact that something just isn't right with our 7 yr old son. There is a history of AS on my side of the family as well as my husband's side but they are our half sibs so we didn't think much of it until recently. Our son has always been a bit different and when he struggled in 1st grade last year we made adjustments and just thought it was from my husband being deployed. Well, my husband has been home for a long time now with no deployment in sight for a long time and our son is now in 2nd grade and the year started out with issues. I'm thankful his teacher wants to help him succeed and that he is in a small class but we are so lost in how to help him. Its refreshing to know that we aren't the only parents who have to deal with this. We've started him in therapy and the therapist said he does have a lot of red flags that would typically indicate AS, and now we are just waiting for an official evaluation.

Mister Fweem said...

This is going to be an ongoing thing, Delana. Our son's in junior high school now, dealing with seven teachers who, fortunately, are on board with helping us with his challenges. We're not asking for much, but having them understand where he's coming from sure helps a lot. I think he gets this from my side of the family, because I grew up as a "shy" kid who figured out ways to deal with the shyness that I don't really think was shyness.