Friday, February 26, 2010

Naming Names

My son's teacher wanted to speak to my husband about a few issues this morning on the playground.

For one thing, she said that another mother had let her know that she'd been hearing things about our Rooster. Her daughter had complained that he got up in her face, got too close. This other mother said she felt she would need to talk to her daughter about Rooster about his diagnosis. The teacher responded by asking her to choose her words carefully, because the rooster has not yet learned the word "autism."

Also, the teacher wanted us to know that my boy has been responding to corrections (like, "Stay in line," or "Keep your hands to yourself,") by saying, "I can't help it." She feels like we need to keep him from buying into this line, because if he says it often enough, he might come to believe it.
I really respect this teacher. She has the boy's best interests at heart. Part of me wishes he could repeat kinder with her, but she believes strongly that he should go to first grade, which all of us assume he will repeat.
Of course, transitioning a boy like mine comes with heavy doses of fear, as I worry that he will have a teacher who won't advocate for him bravely as she does.

We want that mother in the class to talk to her daughter about our Rooster, we are glad she was planning to do that. We appreciate that the teacher offered that mom language to use like this: "Tell you daughter that she has trouble with reading, but Rooster has trouble with things like playing with friends. Everybody has stuff that they have to learn to do, that is hard for them." We appreciate that the kindergarten teacher doesn't want Roo to believe there are things he "can't" do, that she doesn't want that word to figure prominently in his impressive vocabulary, that she believes in tough love.

Soon, if not this very weekend, we plan to try to introduce our guy to the word for his diagnosis. Goodfountain wrote a beautiful post today about her relationship with that word, and if you haven't read it you should; it's a word that requires getting used to for sure. I don't know what Roo will make of it. What I hope, though, is that we will help him use it for finding community, as we try to do, and that he won't use it as a reason for why he "can't."

I expect this will be a weekend in which I'll be coming back to this blog again, to process not only my evolving relationship with the word autism, but my son's as well.

Wish us luck.


pixiemama said...

Luck & love. Call me if you need a shoulder/ear/whatever...

love. yes, again.

Niksmom said...

Wishing you luck...and peace of mind. xo

jess said...

Luck and love.

I'll send a link from home that can hopefully help.


Anonymous said...

That is so weird, because just yesterday after watching a Temple Grandin speech, I realized it was time to tell C. I haven't even mentioned it to husband yet because I'm still swirling it around in my own head. But I'm starting to think that maybe we'll be able to use his knowledge to his advantage, although I am worried about the "it's not my fault" excuse as well. So I'm still toying with how to frame it. If you end up with any tips or ideas, feel free to share! GOOD LUCK!

Kim said...

I'm very interested to hear how this went! Well I hope. I wonder about how and when we will have a similar conversation with our son.

I have to tell you that I just found your blog, followed from a comment on another blog, and I've spent the last 45 minutes (which I had slated for the treadmill) reading your posts. There were just too many that I wanted to comment on so I thought I would just write one longish comment to say that I'm hooked! Hooked on your writing style, the way you express how leading this life feels, and learning more about your boy, who sounds a lot like mine.

Love it.

Now I have to go keep my treadmill date even though I could sit here reading all morning.

Kate said...

i hope it went well Gayle. you have such a way with words and heartload of empathy i'm sure you'll make sure its a message he'll be able to hear.That is to say he'll not not feel the weight of what the word is loaded with, but instead the sound of acceptance you've worked to hard to embrace.