Seems like a lot of doom and gloom lately. Sara Nuefeld is leaving the Sun, which really bums me out. I certainly wouldn't be blogging if it hadn't been for Inside Ed and and my whole sense of connection to City Schools as a whole (as opposed to individual schools and teachers) comes from reading and posting on Inside Ed. Then there's this disaster of trying to figure out ESY that I've already posted about here and here. Combine those things with the flurry of activities and stress of a jam-packed calender. I just want to bury my head under a pillow and ask the world to go away. But, having three kids doesn't give you that option (probably one of the better arguments for why would you want to have kids - you have no choice to stop being self-absorbed). So, the solution? A cheering post that reminds me of the good stuff. So here it is...
I can not believe the growth I've seen in those three kids over the course of this school year. The high school freshman, who seemed so ill-equipped to deal with the independence required of high school students has grown into the task. I won't say it wasn't without a lot of help from some excellent teachers (and maybe some parental engagement), but I think we've turned a corner. There are still final exams to go, which make me pretty nervous, but I'm feeling pretty amazed at the transformation.
The middle one is no longer a kid, and anyone with a hormonal middle school kid knows what I mean. It's a little scary and not too pleasant for anyone involved, but growing up can't be halted. There are moments when I wonder if brain function has slowed in an equal ratio to the speeding of physical maturation, but it's good to be on the far side of this boundary.
But the transformation of the special one, that's incredible. There are milestones that have been hit that I wasn't sure would ever happen. Today I saw a kid that wanted to impress classmates because they were friends - I would have never dared to hope for that, and within a school year? That qualifies as a miracle if I was religious. Staff that really goes to the effort to truly include and care. Blossoming verbal interaction - you might have to ask questions, but the answers aren't just a way to get you to quit talking (as they have been for several years). This kid has a genuine desire to get information across. Another miracle. And I've got to say that classmates and staff have been transformed as well. The idea that people who don't talk much don't have much understanding or intelligence has fallen by the wayside. And I see genuine affection and attachment going in both directions. You might have been told that autistic kids have no attachments (hence the term autism from the Greek autos or self), but I'd argue that it's a two way street - we nuerotypicals can't figure out how to make attachments with someone who doesn't have interactive mirroring as much as auties can't figure out how to navigate the rules of our society. But given time, training and practice and the attachments are real.
So there - the glass is definitely half-full or better.