Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Setting expectations

Morgan brought his report card home today full of wonderful news! It shows what we already know- that he's making progress in leaps and bounds in a lot of areas, and progressing slowly but surely in others. He actually brought home an "E" for excellent in math!

What tickled me the most was his IEP (Individualized Education Plan for those that aren't familiar with the terminology) report and the social skills section of his regular report card. His social skills have gone from Ns to Ss!! From 3s (BAD) to 1s (GREAT)!!! His IEP report says that he's on track to complete his goals by the end of the year and, in two cases, he's gone from a 2a (no progress being made) to a 3 (your kid is surprising us, kicking ass and taking names). All the comments on it indicate that he is doing great and believe me, his teachers don't often mince words.

 We've been having the issue of Morgan rifling through his folders in the afternoons before I pick him up for some time now. It's annoying due to his taking things out of place and not putting them back. Since he changes classes, I need to know what came from which class, especially if it needs to be reworked.

However, Morgan, no matter what I do, still goes through his folder- especially on test take home days... For instance, last Friday was spelling test day. He comes home- no test. We ask him how he did and he got visibly agitated and began to stim saying, "I'm sorry, it was bad. I threw it in the trash!" How odd, we thought. We'd reviewed with him as usual and he had the words down cold. We asked the score (his thing for numbers means he memorizes a lot of his scores) and he answered "69," this worried us. Thomas went back to the school, where Morgan's teacher caught him going through all four of the trash cans in her room. She laughed her butt off about that to me. His test was recovered and the actual score was a "92." Now, my son HATES turning ANY test in to me or his dad unless it's a 100 or above for some reason. What in the world? Out came a number line with divisions for what's "good" and what's not.

To elaborate more on the perfectionism... Morgan keeps telling me he has writing assignments for Mrs.M, his main teacher. No biggie, I expect him to do those. I look at the papers he's bringing home and I see her red pen where she's written out his words he's wanting to write and he's brought home the specially lined paper for those writing assignments. Thing is, the yesterday, Morgan had an odd sentence that made me stop and think. It was "Respect means no pushing and for you to be fair." I asked Morgan what this was about and he said it was a write off. I freaked a bit and left a message for Mrs. M at home. He did the assignment- neatly- and went about his business. I talked to his teacher late last night and she told me that he never has homework from her. He goes to study hall to finish work. The sentence was okay'ed by her in class as an assignment for a segway into a civil rights lesson.

Morgan's been bringing these things home for practice! He complains bitterly as I'm getting frustrated with him, he wriggles around, stims, cries, etc., but knows that he doesn't HAVE to do these assignments. He picks up extra paper and decides to do all of this on his own, just to get better. He knows he gets graded and wants to get the best grade. I know all of this because I sat down and asked him today. I asked if he knew about the lack of assignments. He said, "But Mommy, I'm always going to specials and I never get to work on handwriting. I need that handwriting grade!" 

Every time I think that I set reasonable expectations for my wonderful kid, he blows them out of the water. I understand that he's doing the same at school a lot of the time, too. Which is great- it keeps us all on our toes. Lately some people have told me that I'm selling my kid short and that hurt. I don't feel like I do because I know my child is highly intelligent and know that he's going to surpass any expectation anyone might have for him. It's just that I think that the route that the experts, family, and some friends think that Morgan (and I, along with him) should take might be wrong. And so, this roller coaster ride/learning experience called Autism and my son continues.

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