Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Undocumented Goals

I know that this year, I have been writing a lot about the (big and small) goals Morgan has been achieving, but I'm still finding new ways that my son and those around him are completely blowing me away. Third grade is looking to be a great year in the Deciphering household. 

Aside from reading better, the goals I'm thinking of right now aren't all in Morgan's IEP. They cannot be measured by anything other than emotion. A sense of well being. The feeling I got the other day that karma was giving my son a huge hug and letting me know, as his mom, that things were okay for now. 

Open communication was a goal attained without me having to state it. Morgan's para and I text each other. I am getting amazing feedback from her, Morgan's teacher, and other support staff every time we discuss him. What I love is that they don't just say things like, "Oh, he's sweet." No, they detail exactly what Morgan does throughout the day that charms them, stuns them, sets him apart from other children, and fill in any gaps of information I might have. They also rat him out when he's being lazy or has been tattling on the other children. They do not hesitate to answer questions I might have. And they are always upfront with me. No matter if it hurts. 

People speaking respectfully about my child was a goal I didn't realize I wanted so badly until we'd went so far past achieving it that I'd grown used to it. I didn't fully understand that this is what had happened until earlier this week. I'd introduced my mother to just about everyone who works with both children and the knowledge that I genuinely like these people and am not stressed by seeing them hit me full force. I don't hate coming to the school because I know my son is welcome there. People treat him as a whole person, as they should. That is not a small matter. 

My favorite part of those people is that they never try to force or suggest that our goal is for Morgan to "blend," or to "act normal." There are no real definitions for that, as I've pointed out to educators before, and these people get it. They love my son as he is and wish to help him succeed in his environment. 

I hear from two sources at the school that Morgan has begun to play foursquare. People, this is huge. He's playing with kids -all sorts of kids- at recess!

I am seeing the best example of social inclusion I've ever witnessed. Perhaps this isn't a goal by some people's standards, but it was one of mine. My mom and I were able to eat lunch with Morgan this week and he was so funny introducing me to his friends, by name, flappy happy. Even better, his friends were excited to talk to Mom and me. They asked questions about Morgan, my mom, and me. They were eager to tell me how nice Morgan is to them, how great of a friend he is, how polite, how smart, and how they help him. My guards were up at first because of past experiences of kids being nice at the lunch table when I'm around and then laying into my son after I leave, but then something happened...

Morgan answered a question with a script. He scripted something that didn't quite fit the script. The girls, instead of looking at him oddly, teasing him, ignoring him, or cutting their eyes, all seemed to digest what Morgan said. You could tell they were trying to look beyond the words and search for the meaning of the script. One of the girls, who had been in Morgan's class last year, brightened, smiled, and replied to Morgan in an appropriate way, never once negating what had been said. Never once treating the meaning of his words as if he had said something worth making fun of or silencing. They then went back to chattering like little magpies as Morgan happily soaked up the attention of his "beautiful like a rose" girls, his Babe, and his mom. 

Sitting in that cafeteria, I realized that another goal, one I've been worrying over night and day for a very long time, might be at least temporarily crossed off. 

My son has peers and teachers who try to understand him. Who accept him as Morgan. They aren't looking at my son and thinking "less." They might think, "different," but that's okay; Morgan is different. He is wonderfully different. 

The world might not accommodate him and his autistic peers. Acceptance and equality are incredibly hard to come by. But for right now, something is going correctly. In my little corner of the world, for seven hours a day, not all of my goals for Morgan have to go on paper. There are people willing to work with him and me to assure that Morgan is accepted, given an education, and cared about.

He matters and right now, that matters so much. 

How do you measure goals? Are they something you must put in writing? Things which are noticeable to the naked eye? For your child, are they things which are only included in a document, for the progress towards them to be measured in incremental steps?

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