It was an unremarkable night.
I came home, kissed and hugged my babies and then moved into the kitchen to start dinner. After I had everything ready and in the oven I turn to the school books on the counter and flip to Lincolns sheets of work tucked into his communication book.
A tear jumps to my eye, then another. Before long I am rhythmically leaking tears down my face as I review my sons english homework.
I know, I know, it is just a grade 2 kids unimportant worksheet. He’ll fill in hundreds before high school graduation. Right?
Not really. See, part of my sons autism affects his fine motor skills as often autism does. Lincoln has always had a very difficult time printing and even though he could write his name just as early as the other boys (and compared to one, sooner…) he has always had a most difficult time with forming letters, spacing and moderating the size of his print.
When Lincoln was 5 he attended many useful occupational therapy sessions at Grandview children’s Centre. It was commented that Lincolns form was wrong, he liked to start the letters at the bottom of the page and not the top but after considering he did a fair job forming the letters and that it took a lot of coaxing to get him to sit and print at all, both the therapist and myself agreed that it was better to just allow him to continue printing that way and not force him to ‘relearn’ how to print.
**NOTE to PARENTS** I was very vocal on my feelings that if Lincoln was forced to learn to print the ‘proper’ way that there was a very likely chance that he would refuse to write at all and shut down. I know you parents know what I am talking about. Remember, you are your childs best advocate and even though a professional may suggest or give advice to do something, you don’t have to agree to it. By explaining my concerns the O/T saw that I had a point and once she got to know Lincoln better I know she agreed that making him change would set him back.
One thing I did agree to is having him learn to form the letters he did not form well (K, G, Y) the proper way. This helped him print nicer and clearer AND did not affect his printing as he already struggled with those letter and her advice actually helped make printing of those letters easier.
kindergarten and grade one were challenging for him where printing was concerned. He disliked having to write a sentence and he had difficulty focusing. I believe a lot of the focus challenge stemmed from the dislike of printing as it proved difficult and awkward.
My son has an excellent fulltime E/A (educational assistant) that not only has the patience of Job but also is very creative in finding ‘out of the box’ solutions to help Lincoln. She suggested making boxes for lincoln to write in that were shaped to the size she wanted his letters to be and they started working on it.
It took a year but when I opened his book today I saw little words printed pretty neat…and box free.
The best part was he also did his work sheet all by himself!
His peers have been completing work alone since JK but Lincoln has always had a really, really, really hard time staying focused. In JK he rarely sat long enough to write anything. IN S/K and grade 1 his E/A had to repeat the instruction often and remind him to stay on task.
Now, he is working independently!! For a parent that accomplishment is as great as the first steps on the moon. My heart soared just like a space shuttle.
Wanna know a secret?
Last year I was asked if I wanted to put Lincoln in a small class placement. I refused it.
I knew my boy needed to be with all the other kids and I wanted to afford him the right to be a regular kid. I felt he could do it. I WANTED him to do it. The secret is though, no matter how much I believed in my son, part of me was worried I was being selfish.
See, I was a kid once too.
Even though I was a pretty nice kid who to this day still wears her heart on her sleeve and always wants to make everyone feel accepted and loved I KNOW I thought of kids in the special education classes as different. Who didn’t? They were different. They went to a class I had never visited and they had teachers I never got to be around. They did at times seem unique to me and I knew that even if I did not understand the ‘whys’ of it, that we were not the same. I didn’t think I was better, or that there was anything horrible about those children, I just knew that there was a divide in my school between
Them and Me.
I did not want that for my son.
I know there may and most likely will come a time where a smaller class might be the very best choice for LIncoln, and I am glad there are choices like that for him. For now though, I want him to make friends and learn to socialize with his peers, the kids of his bus and neighbourhood. The boys and girls that run with him in the park and at soccer practice. I want him to feel like he belongs.
Maybe, this sense of belonging might give him the extra determination and strength needed to work through the struggle and find resolution and success at the end. So far, I’ve seen this. I know it can be realized.
Children are so very tolerant of differences in these primary grades. It makes me sad to know it quickly fades and I wonder what happens to us to make us turn into such bitter and hurtful people as we grow. People who’s lack of tolerances and acceptances make me grieve for our society. How I wish we would stay those accepting children forever. What a wonderful world we would have.
When I see in just a short time this year his work went from this:
I find confirmation that I made a right choice for my child and that he does continue to surpass the expectations of others and most importantly, is happy and thriving under the tutelage of some really remarkable people.
Man, sometimes being a Mom is just such an amazing experience. How blessed am I?
Unremarkable, meet remarkable.