Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Seeing the Light

A long time in between posts, but now is a good time to share all the wonderful things that have been happening in our lives.

Middle School happened. We both knew it was coming, but didn't really have the concept of what that meant until the first day when it was the first time that he was coming home by himself. And with his own keys. And with his phone. (Well, MY phone, but you get the idea). I was beside myself with worry when he didn't text me the second he got out. I had my neighbor check in on him. Safe and sound.
I have a new job. I am working in an elementary school as a SPED teaching assistant, but that's a limited description. I do whatever they tell me! (haha!) I could be working with a variety of kids from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Each day seems to fly by. I LOVE it. 

His transition to a man is happening. His voice is dropping. He's much taller. He's putting on weight. (We're at 2 gallons of milk a week just for him). He's more active. His brain is expanding with all the homework that he's doing. 
He's able to handle stressful situations better. There are days he'll have struggles, but for the most part, it has been smooth sailing. 

Until there was homework. 

And the stress of homework. And coming home and having to DO it. And me hovering over his shoulder and (no doubt) adding to the cloud of doom that followed him when he got home to do it. And the organization piece. And the studying for tests. (Which he has a natural recall, and doesn't really HAVE to study, but he didn't understand why studying was a part of homework). And also him running home to play on the computer ad nauseum. 

Some days it took an hour. Most days it was 3. Add hormones to the mix and Whoa Nelly. (He was also avoiding work by skipping work and taking detention. What kid actively chooses detention? Apparently mine. It took me about a week to figure this tactic out.)

The other day we were talking about how he has two diagnoses and that each one contributes to the way that he is. He's working so hard to be seen as "normal" but also he doesn't want to lose his own unique and awesome individuality. He's seeing more often how his challenges are more visible to others and that can be a source of frustration for him. 

Last week we had an epic blow out about homework. I had asked him to revise his writing (common site words and basic punctuation), and he just lost it. Threw his bedclothes on the floor, took his mattress and hurled it across the room. Door slamming. Screaming , "Why can't I be a normal boy? Why is this so HARD?"  Both of us were at wit's end. We were crying out of frustration. We had to reevaluate our house rules and decide on more clear expectations. Homework club was introduced the following Monday, where he leaves school and goes directly to work on homework. There are teachers and assistants to aid him with his assignments and he gets CHECKED multiple times. Computer time is limited to 1 hour a day and more can be earned with good behavior, study habits and grades. He was not fond of this plan, but was flexible to do it. 

The first day after homework club, his smile had returned. All of his homework was done and you could visibly see the anxiety had been removed from his shoulders. The second day was a repeat of the first, just positive results and almost no anxiety. 

Today was his IEP meeting and never have I had such a positive and glowing review.  He's reading AT grade level. A year ago he was reading at a low 4th grade level. 

All the comments from his teachers are: "He's a pleasure to have in class. He's engaged and interested in learning"

He's a B student. A B STUDENT. I was truly expecting low C's due to his lack of interest and verbal distaste of school. I was flabbergasted. His Language Arts teacher was impressed by his ability to retain information and his desire to learn. He's doing almost 9th grade vocabulary. 

My kid? Honor roll bound? I say hell YES! 

I almost wept. I was so overwhelmed with my son's achievement. But, truly, deep down, I knew he has it in him. He just had to be properly motivated. This shot of independence and a hearty growth spurt has done him a world of good. 

I know that there are more challenges coming and that we are not out of the woods. I do know that if we stick together, hold hands and adjust to the dark, we can better see the light before us.  

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