Thursday, December 13, 2007

Success builds on success

I had a parent/teacher meeting this morning with my older son's special ed resource teacher. P is now a 9th grader at our (large) public high school. The building itself is overwhelming. To an outsider looking in, it looks a bit like the Escher painting . Then, it's enormous--2,000+ students. I had all sorts of worries even before thinking about the curriculum and the challenge that might provide.

The things we worry about are almost never the things that actually happen.

P. came home with a first term report card with mostly A's and a few high B's. This with a demanding schedule, including 2 languages (French and Chinese). His teachers uniformly consider him a delight in class and his math teacher has recommended that P move into honors math. (We're still considering that.) To top it all off, P was nominated and accepted for a peer mentor program where students are called to orient transfer students to the high school.

I was floored. Not because I didn't think P capable. He is and I know that he is.

It's because the early years were such a struggle. He was in such distress all the time and as a parent, I felt helpless in the face of his depression and anxiety.

Teachers complement me all the time on what a wonderful job I've done in parenting my AS kid. I'm uncomfortable with that kind of praise. I parented my *child* in a way that respected him and responded to where he was. Not because he is an 'Aspie', but because that's what I needed to do as a parent of any child. P has had one huge advantage: I lived through the anxiety and the stress, the sheer confusion of feeling out of phase in the world. And all without the benefit of recognition and assistance.

Early on, my husband and I made a decision to make home a safe haven. There was enough stress in his daily life, at school, with peers, that he needed a place to simply *be*. That was home.

I keep harping on this, but managing anxiety was the single biggest factor in P's success. Anxiety is the terrible background noise that interferes with every aspect of an Aspie's life. It is a set of blinders. Full arm and leg shackles. A prison cell. As long as his anxiety level stays under control, P can be his happy, goofy, gentle-giant self.

I hope and pray that P continues to feel safe, loved, and supported; that he has the grounding he needs to keep moving forward in his life.


kristina said...

So great to hear how he is doing!

We try the same to make home safe and as stress-free as possible---Charlie is just starting to get homework, but home is where he indeed just "be."

regards from Kristina

Phil Schwarz said...

Keep on making sense :-).

Anxiety is a big issue for Jeremy too, and we do our best to make home a safe place. What's harder, and what we keep working on, is getting the other people involved to help us in defusing the sources of anxiety in the rest of his world.