Friday, May 12, 2006

Looking Back...

Dr. Kristina Chew has a sweet post about her son Charlie. He is working so hard along with teachers and Mom and Dad to open up the communication and relationship channels.

After a hard day, he settled down into his routine listening to his iPOD and watching a tape.

"Mommy wie down." he says to his mom, and she doesn't take those words for granted.

I know exactly how she feels, to have her son WANT her in his busy world.

Since I quit being the Queen of Mean, choosing to change the world, rather than try to change the wiring of my son...Ben has become so close to me.

When he was little, we didn't have much of a relationship, anything like it is now, anyhow.

I tried to explain it on the way to school.

"It's like you heard 'wah-wah-wah-wah-?'" I said, where the parent sounds like the muted horn sound of adults on Charlie Brown specials.

"Instead of hearing 'what it your name, Ben', you heard 'wah-wah-wah-wah, Ben'."

"Uh----forty seven!" he says, making a joke.

But you know, that's the way it was. He was punished for "mis-behavior" because I assumed he knew what was going on. Looking back, it's so obvious he needed help, not punishment. If there was one thing I could get through to younger parents, it would be this. You see, I had wonderful, loving, understanding and forgiving parents. And I could never understand why I couldn't get through to Ben. If I could have wrapped my head around the fact that some people really ARE wired different, it would have saved us both a lot of heartache.

That's why it is such a blessing that the whole "Neurodiversity" thing is catching on. Teachers are slowly changing their expectations, and with that, their manner of teaching.

There is a school here in Columbia, South Carolina started by a mother who was a high-ranking Special Educator in the public school system. Here is a critique of the school given by a student:

(March 2005)
"Glenforest SChool is an amazing school. It's a school where everyone knows your name and you don't fell left out. I am a Junior at Glenforest and love it. This is my second year and my grades are better than they were in public school. The motto ' If a child can't learn the way he is taught we must teach him the way he can learn' and they go by that at Glenforest. I love it and any student who is stuggleing in public school or parents who want a new place for them Glenforest is the place to be!I will be at Glenforest School til i leave in 12th grade. Another awsome thing about the school is how small it is 6 to 10 students in a classroom WOW! amazing compared to public school."
- Robbie

Every school for differently abled kids in this area has been started by parents who were involved in public education, and became sorely disappointed when their "differently abled" child was treated poorly. Hell hath no fury like mother who knows there is a better way, I guess.

If we could have afforded it , we would have sent Ben to Glenforest in first grade. When I talked to Dr. Glenda Sternberg, the founder, she said they used no labels there, but spouted off a string of labels the kids had from the public school before coming there. They were the same ones you can see above, at the top of the blog, under Hard Won Wisdom. Luckily, Ben is in a program for "Aspergers", one of TWO in the whole STATE at the middle school level. It's kind of like "Glenforest-lite", and they ARE trying to help rather than punish.

I can still hear Autism Diva , whose line on Autism podcast I'll paraphrase:
"Your child is autistic? How COOL!"


notmercury said...

Great post Rose! Thank you.

Kristina Chew said...

May I dare say you are a COOL mom?!!!?

Wwhat Charlie tells us he needs is where my husband and I have learned to start from. Not an easy task, but gratifying for all.

Happy Mother's Day!

r.b. said...

I love your Charlie stories, Kristina, they are so spot on. My heart just goes out to you and him because a person can see his power growing! A person just wants to cheer him on!

I've got to re-link to your story in my blog. For some reason it didn't take the first time.

Thank you for your inspiration!

r.b. said...

Okay, got that fixed...I mean my heart goes out to all three of you.

Ben is raising Joel and me pretty well!! I guess Charlie is doing a good job on you two, too!

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