This blog is supposed to have a focus on what it’s liking raising a son with autism. I’ve gotten away from that lately and I apologize.
Last night I was told there were 15 days left in the school year. Fifteen days left in not only grade 5, but also full integration from day one into a mainstream grade 5 classroom.
No more full-time aides. No more part-time aides. There was no splitting time between a special needs environment and a mainstream classroom. To say that this year has been a huge step for young Matt and his autism does not come close to defining just how hard he’s worked in his attempts to minimize the label and image that autism has handed him.
There were some tough moments – such as the time an anonymous classmate put a note in his desk calling him a “little bitch”. He also got caught lying to his teachers on a multiple occasions and continues to struggle socially with the other kids. He had issues with a girl last year, that he just can’t seem to let go off this year.
Yet most of the kids seem to like Matt. The teachers like Matt. He certainly loves the positive attention he receives but unfortunately hasn’t fully grasped the best way to go about obtaining it.
And because it wasn’t until fifth grade that he became a full-time, mainstream, student – he often finds himself playing catch up to everyone else with math, reading comprehension and other subjects. It’s not as if he missed a couple of weeks with mono or pink eye. He missed first, second, third and a lot of fourth grades.
In the first quarter, he came home with two As and three Cs. In the second quarter, it was two Bs and three Cs. In quarter three, three Bs and two Cs.
All of those grades were 100% earned with no extra points or grading curve or leeway given because Matt has autism.
Though with just a short time left, he’s been losing focus; starring off and not paying attention. His teacher has needed to redirect Matt more often than in the past to do his work and to do it right.
Perhaps this is just a result of him looking forward to summer vacation. I mean, we’ve all been there. Maybe fatigue is settling in: a full year, in a mainstream classroom with higher expectations, more work and less assistance is something he’s still adjusting to.
Then there’s the continued 3-hours per week speech, occupational and physical therapies. And karate.
I think the kid needs a break, but certainly not before nailing down these final 15-days. His mother and I have stressed that there can be no drop-off. He’s worked too hard and has come too far to end this year on a bad-note. Additionally, as we need to remind him, it doesn’t get any easier in sixth grade and beyond.
Every year as Matt advances to the next grade, I worry about his progress, his abilities and wonder if there is some hidden ceiling waiting to stop his advancement.
Fortunately, every year he makes me look foolish and I look forward to him doing so next year as he starts sixth grade – with a locker (not a desk) and a short time to get to classes (which are in different rooms) and multiple teachers (instead of one or two) and larger class sizes (where he could get lost in the crowd.)
Judas Priest the kid is still four months away from that and I’m already starting to panic.