It’s a love-hate thing

August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am 12 comments

     Today is the first day of school. I’ve been waiting for it since school adjourned two months ago. Not only is there not much to do around here in the summer – it’s too hot for anything but swimming, which we do daily – but for an only child with few friends, summer is long for both him and me.

     Yet this morning, I woke early – as I always do on the first day of school – filled with low-grade anxiety about the upcoming year. Every year I think it will get easier, and every year I am wrong. There are so many things to worry about, and I can worry with the best. My concerns are admittedly sometimes unfounded, but most of the time there’s a ring of reality and truth to them.

     This year, for the first time, I am worried about academics. Hyperlexic children tend to start struggling academically around this fourth grade year, and I saw glimmers of that struggle at the end of third grade. Word problems become more complex, reading becomes more of a subjective experience as plots thicken and subtleties in text become lost to the child, and writing is expected to be far more sophisticated.

     But there’s more, there’s always more. The academic issues don’t create the knot in my stomach the way the other things do. Things like having 31 kids in C’s class, none of whom are, at first glance, part of C’s small support system. Then there’s the fact that he really doesn’t want to go to school any longer; the excitement of school in general seems to have worn off, and we have many years left to go. Finally, there’s this little thing about social skills.

     Oh, how I have grown to hate those two little words. Long fuming at the school district for putting my kid in a “friendship skills” class when the little tyrants who are so mean to him are not, I wonder what he’s really learning about social skills at school. Given that C’s two best friends are a frienemy – who is as mean to him as often as he is nice – and another child with Asperger’s, I hardly think he’s picking up much in the way of useful social skills. Neither boy is a particularly good role model for C, but friends they are, and friends he needs.

     Sometimes I think if I had a brain cell left in my head I’d yank him right out of the public system and homeschool him. However, his isolation would then become more problematic as opportunities to interact with other children would grow less and less. He craves social interaction like I crave chocolate, and I imagine by the end of a school day at home both he and I might run screaming into the woods.

     So off I go again, exploring alternatives: online schools, charter schools, and private schools, in the search for the place that best suits him. And my biggest worry on this day is that I will never, ever find that place for him.

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We wait It’s done

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. grandpa  |  August 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    You sound like you can be strong. Your strength is important to him, so please try to stay strong. Your anxiety is natural and understandable but kids, all kids, regardless of their strugggles, are almost psychic when it comes to feeling their mothers doubts and fears. Lean on He who makes us strong and with that kind of strength how can anyone go wrong.

    Reply
  • 2. Angie  |  August 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I hope the first day went well!! And that you can worry a little less this year:)

    Reply
  • 3. therocchronicles  |  August 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    We are 3 weeks away from the start of school (how I envy your return to routine!) and I can completely understand your anxiety. Mine is ramping up just thinking about the first day, 3 weeks from now.

    Here’s hoping that it starts off better than you anticipated.

    Reply
  • 4. ghkcole  |  August 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I know where you are coming from, and I am hoping the first day was full of happy surprises. Update soon, please?

    Reply
  • 5. akbutler  |  August 10, 2010 at 5:58 am

    I love this line : “He craves social interaction like I crave chocolate”. I can totally relate. My little guy wants to be around people, just isn’t the best at joining in. I have the same love/hate fear of the first day – can’t wait for him to go, but really anxious about his new classroom setup. Anyway you could alleviate these fears by having a one-on-one meeting with his teacher? I’m going to try that next week so I can get all my questions out in private and not at the grand orientation with all the other parents. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you have more up days than down.

    Reply
  • 6. robinaltman  |  August 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    That’s a really early school year start. Gosh, I’m jealous. I’ve locked the boys in a closet and throw books and chicken nuggets in every so often to simulate school.

    It sounds like he had a great year last year. Maybe he’ll add to his friend pool. I’ll cross my fingers. You are so darn right about the little rats who torment him. Why the heck aren’t they in friend group?

    Reply
  • 7. pixiemama  |  August 11, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I hear you. And, like ghkc, need an update. And we all need a margarita, or something.

    love.

    Reply
  • 8. Elizabeth Channel  |  August 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I could have written this post and inserted “third grade” where you wrote “fourth.”

    It’s always nice to know I’m not alone…

    31 kids does seem excessive.

    Thinking good thoughts for you today!

    Reply
  • 9. kaztronomic  |  August 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I can understand why you’re anxious. You must feel pulled in so many directions. First, there’s that desire to get him “out there” — in the real world, with real interactions, with real people, in a real-life situation. Then there’s the fear — he may struggle, which of course would be painful for you. He may not like it. He may be teased and tortured by his peers.

    I think you’re doing a great job with him, and C is a very bright and resilient fella. At least for now, public school sounds like the best option for him.

    I know when I was in elementary, and I was so-called “normal”, I sought out those abusive friends that you say C has scouted out with his frienemy. I can see why you’re frustrated with the school system for sequestering him when it’s bullies that need the “friendship skills” courses.

    I hope you find that balance that you seek! ❤

    Reply
  • 10. Sparrow  |  August 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Have you looked at Waldorf schooling yet (assuming it’s available in your area.) It could be a really good option.

    Reply
  • 11. Alicia D  |  August 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

    i cant believe the first day of school is already!! we have several weeks left before mine go back! You put so eloquently what so many of us struggle with. When nothing is ‘black and white’ its so hard to feel like you’re coming up with the right answer, but as a mother, in your heart you’ll know.

    Reply
  • 12. Babs M  |  August 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Isn’t that true! ALL kids need social skills training, but for different reasons. Some of those who are meanest need it most!! 🙂 Best wishes for C…

    Reply

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