Friday, August 12, 2011

Backpack Essentials

I remember finding a closet to duck in so I could talk on the phone. The inclusion specialist had called to talk to me about the Rooster's difficulties in school. He seemed to have some understanding about phonics, she thought, but she could glean no evidence of number sense. He had multiple needs, fragmentary attention, and precious little time for services. What did I want her to prioritize?

Deeply grateful for her interest, efforts, time and talents, I said, "Here is what my gut tells me. He needs the math support more. But if you can teach him to read, I think he will read to learn. He came out of the womb loving books. I say you focus on reading."

I remember dialing my husband next, whispering, a tear in my throat. "Honey? It's me. Do YOU think he will learn to read? Do you think he can?" We had to wait and hope, but my intuition told me a boy who loved stories as much as mine would persevere.

I remember taking him to the ed therapist who took one look at his deplorable handwriting and wanted to work on writing and reading. We have one of the best ed therapists you can find for kids on the spectrum - she just finished her Ph.D. and she used to be a behaviorist; she is charming and tenacious and can tame wild beasts, plus she has amazing toys and the most robust sticker collection I've ever seen. "I know you know more about this stuff than I do," I told her. "But this kids has no number sense. Zero. Nothing. His amazing inclusion specialist isn't there any more and no one at school is making any headway with our boy and math. Do the math. Help him gain number sense. Besides, he already loves to read, and I can help him with all the language issues. You concentrate on numbers."

I have no illusions that school will be easy for my son. At seven, he still has the number sense of a kid half his age. But the ed therapist is moving the needle. We see progress. And he's learning to read well enough that it will not be long until he's reading to learn. As I type this, he's pretending he has gone to bed, but I see the light under the door and I know he's cuddled up with a book about a little boy whose mom is president.

I have never been an expert on autism, but so far my gut instincts seem to know how to help my Rooster.

You think I'm talking to you? No, this is the pep talk I give myself as the weather cools a tad and people begin to talk about QBs and new lunch boxes. I feel fall coming, and if I didn't give myself this pep talk right now, anxiety might be the next feeling to dawn.

When September comes, I hope all you special needs parents out there will join me in listening to our instincts. Gut instincts and hope -- my back to school essentials.

1 comment:

kim mccafferty said...

I've often wished that gut instincts and hope were featured at Walmart, as sometimes I feel I need to restock by the end of the summer. Best of luck to all of you next month!