Just Enough Support

Today Sam came home from high school very upset.

This has been his first week at high school, and it has been stressful for him.  He has done terrific!  He has kept up with the constant room and teacher change.  The practices that he did with this TSS have paid off, and he has gone from room to room to cafe to gym to chorus to class to class.  A total of 10 changes every day, not counting the bus.  But it did take a toll on him.

We had made up two 3-ring binders, one for morning, one for afternoon.  Each had a folder for each of his classes, labeled.  Because I am anal and this is the best way I could think of.  But teachers provided a binder for math and one other class.  So one folder was redundant.  But he needed a folder for homework to come home with him in his backpack.  His TSS had mentioned it to me, but I had not gotten Sam to do it because I have not been home all week before bed.  Because his support staff changes five hours into the day (thank you PA Medicaid for thinking my son entering a new school and having lots of new challenges does not warrant enough support for the entire day) there is a lack of continuity.  And a lack of people knowing what he needs to take home.  So a teacher took it upon herself to change the folder and relabel it for homework.

In Sam's world that was a HUGE mistake.

He handled it at school, but came home in meltdown mode.  And I was really glad I had the afternoon off.  We had lots of time to talk about it.    I figured out (I think) that he felt his teacher should not have altered HIS stuff.  He understands now why it happened.  But I told him a couple things.

One is she did it with good intentions.

Two is that people who don't have autism often assume that other people can read their minds and intentions, but this often isn't the case.  And we will have to talk to her to let her know that Sam needs to know the reasons.

What I didn't tell him but I did discuss with his TSS:

Sam's stuff is his.  We would not grab another 14 year old kid's stuff and 'fix it.'  Even though it was expedient.  This falls under 'assuming competence.'  Sam is competent to do things.  It takes him longer, and he may need guided through the process.  But it obviously is important to him.

Expedience is rarely the answer.  Letting a person be competent is.  Even if it takes more time.  There is only 3 minutes transition between classes.  I don't know how the regular ed students do it!  But Sam will need some time built in to handle these little things that crop up.

Sam needs to do things for himself.  He needs just enough support and no more.  Otherwise, he will be too reliant and not grow.  I am actually happy that he was upset, because it shows he will fight for his independence because it is important to him.  Figuring out what is enough will be a constantly moving target that we all have to work on, especially his parents.  We get too used to doing things for him.  Because it is expedient.  

Sam need to self-advocate.  In a respectful manner.  So we will practice and discuss this respectful way of addressing what he thought went wrong, and how to intervene the next time before someone steps on his toes and 'expediates' all over his stuff. 

Comments

  1. I just found your blog... I think I read every post. It is like you are in my head. I have an 11 year old, a 7 year old, and a 2 year old. The oldest is fairly classic Aspergers with high anxiety, the middle is somewhere on the spectrum (being more concretely diagnosed currently) with high anxiety and extreme ADHD; and the 2 year old was diagnosed with autism at 18 months. The doctor asks me to compare them to normal development when she is assessing... normal? What's that? I have never seen normal development. My oldest just started middle school, he is going through early puberty with a mustache, body hair, and voice changes- not the kid you want to go through puberty early. The middle one has just started having depression and rage issues. The youngest cannot be disciplined because his echolalia kicks in full force when he doesn't understand. Life is tough sometimes... well, maybe I should say life is tough, and every blue moon things go more smoothly. I don't know how to give 3 kids on the spectrum everything they need. Feeling like a failure is pretty normal...

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