Thursday, September 2, 2010

State of the Nathan

A quick post about Nate's 1st day of school. New school, new teachers, new kids, new after school program. It was an amazingly huge amount of NEW to deal with for my guy. He handled it like a ROCK STAR. No phone calls, no notes home, no picking him up in a sobbing hysterical heap of sad panda face. We celebrated by having delicious pizza and watching "Dog The Bounty Hunter".

I am astounded by his resiliency right now. I admire his efforts to keep him self calm and focused when everything is unfamiliar. I think I had more anxiety than he did, but I had taken steps to process all the NEW first in order to be an oasis of tranquility so that he could feel regulated and safe.

 I think that aspie kids, like infants, can "read" you before you realize that you're in a state of sweating panic. (Yeah, sweating panic-ers! Testify!) I continually try to learn new strategies to help guide Nate through these difficult times. I admit I've been a little hovercraft-ish these past two days, but I am learning to let go and giving him a chance to use his social skills first. If you teach them skills, but don't allow them to put them into action, they don't get used. And then they'll cling to you more and do less for themselves, which defeats the purpose of teaching them these independence building social skills.

So, in brief, he's adjusting very well and is being a social ninja, putting his mad skills to work. He is happy, smiling and talking to me about his day. I am so proud of him I could literally burst. 


  1. That's awesome that his first day went so well! Hope the next ones are just as good.

    LOL to "Testify!"

  2. that is awesome. Go Nate. We went through the same thing with my Blake 3 weeks ago when he started school. They are sometimes more resilient than we give them credit for. I know I have definetly been amazed. Awesome blog!

  3. awesome. It's so much nicer to read the "school went well" stories. Hoping to be able to write my own next week too! (and hopefully the heat will break so he won't see me sweating :-)

  4. It's absolutely true that autistic folks read people's energy like a book. We might not be able to read all the individual little signals, but that's because we pick them up all at once and it can be kinda overwhelming.

    I'm really glad your little guy had such a good day--and that you did, too!

  5. You know, I think that it is a criminal shame that we 'autism parents' end up with this overwhelming sense that our kids are not doing enough/trying enough/meeting expectations enough because we get inundated with phone calls and early pick ups and sad panda faces... which are all an illusion of inadequacy.

    I think often the reality is that our kids are working DAMN FRICKEN HARD to navigate this messed up NT world and they just need to find an environment that values and respects and recognizes that hard work. That assumes they are already doing their best, rather than thinking they will only put in their best effort if they get less of this or more of that.

    I continue to be amazed by how insightful and flexible my son is, given such a significant neurological difference. His counsellors at summer camp (5 weeks of day camp) made a point of telling me that nearly all the problems they encountered that involved Simon, were not caused by him so much as they were caused by the unwillingness of his peers to understand, accept or accommodate him.

    I have been so teacher/school focussed that I have really lost sight of the peer education issue. There is much work to do on that front.


  6. Awesome! Congratulations to you both!

  7. @Lisa: I know I am guilty of not letting him find his footing and trying to "save him" from social faux pas, but part of growing up and part of being a parent is working through the "hard stuff".

    He is truly alot heartier than I sometimes give him credit and he's a fantastic child. I am so glad to hear that you also had a positive start to school. I think that can give a nice shine to a usually complicated and anxiety ridden school year!

  8. @alysia: Yes, this heat is not helping for being patient when waiting in line to go to school! LOL!

    And many well wishes that your first day is positive and wonderful, too! Please let me know how it goes. :)

  9. @Caitlin: I can get overwhelmed, and no doubt other parents of kids with ASD do too, with the notes and phone calls from school. I don't use it as a bench mark of failure, it's just frustrating that your child had a hard enough day at school that it warranted notification.

    I'd much rather get phone calls/notes that are positive and delightful, which I did on Nate's 1st day, which was so awesome to see and to experience.

    I think the inadequacies are sometimes the fall out of inclusion, which I think is a very good idea, but there will always be that tiny bit of stigma attached from the NT world that our kids aren't "good enough", even though they have surmounted incredible odds just to BE in that classroom.

    School is such a complex brew of social pragmatics, OT, PT, cognitive and executive functioning and random elements. It's hard to focus on all of them at once and some demand our attention more than others. I think finding a balance is key, which is a challenge, but is not impossible. :)

  10. @Lola: YOU are awesome! Thanks!

  11. My 9 year old is getting better every year with change. It was only a few years ago I dreaded changing or doing anything different. I think as they get older it gets better in some areas at least. Please share your blog on my forum at
    I think it would be a great resource for everyone and if you have any time make a few posts.

  12. Tim,

    Thanks so much for the invite to share my blog. I will check it out and thanks for reading. I will be returning the favor. :)