An update on Firstborn.
Here we sit, just nine weeks out from Summer freedom. Connor seems to have settled into second grade well enough, but we have our episodes. There hadn't been one in quite some time. Until now.
I need to start at the beginning, though.
It's fairly common knowledge amongst our kindred that we started the ball rolling back in January at Connor's school to have him evaluated for an autism spectrum disorder. We have since filled out every form known to mankind, asking us every question, from family history of mental illness to whether or not he can tie his shoes. The school filled out corresponding paperwork. All info was compiled over 40 days and Friday, we went before the group to share our findings.
It was already a crazy day, myself having fallen victim to some stomach plague the night before. I wasn't going to be able to attend the meeting but Steve agreed to put me on speakerphone so I could at least listen to the discussion from my place of quarantine (It worked fairly well, except when lots of voices chimed in at once). I sat on our couch, swaddled in blankets and handing Captain Droolypants toys one after another to keep his chatter to a dull roar, and I listened. I won't bother with scores, but it'll be sufficient information to conclude that Connor's a bright guy. This we have been told before. His test scores place him in the "very superior" range for most subjects, his least impressive score being that of an average student in reading comprehension. His quirky behavior and inattentiveness came up in discussion and everyone seemed to agree that he displays many of the common behaviors of someone with Asperger's. However, due to the fact that his academic performance/acuity is so high up there, they don't recommend taking immediate action regarding his IEP. Essentially, they can't provide a definitive "Asperger's" diagnosis, based on the fact that his academics aren't taking a hard enough hit. All of that I can appreciate, with the understanding that this was a school assessment and not a medical one. In fact, we were encouraged to share the school report with Connor's pediatrician in the event that we are still intent upon seeking a final determination as to whether or not Connor falls on the autism spectrum. "The analysis results are good for three years, and if his schoolwork begins to suffer, we can revisit the evaluation," I was informed. "But why would you want to place another label on your child?" I was then asked over the phone.
Just hold on a second. A label is certainly not what I'm after here. Have I come across like that? What I am after is an approach. I want to know how to handle it when my son goes off the deep end because he was asked to get dressed before breakfast instead of after like he usually does...when he has a complete panic attack at the idea of eating at a hibachi restaurant where there's open flame...when he bites his sister because she won't play the way he wants her to play...when he draws pictures of abusive monster parents and labels them "complete idiots"...when he says he's just a bad kid and will never be anything more...I want to be able to explain to future caregivers/teacher what the deal is, concisely, and offer suggestions for problems with correct perspective. Knowing Connor's limitations and what makes him tick would go so very far toward helping us to help him. That's all I'm after. I am not placing him in a box! God help the person who tries to do that to my headstrong boy. At that moment, I felt like Connor wasn't the only person being analyzed.
It was suggested that we seek counseling for Connor from a professional who specializes in autism spectrum disorders. Definitely a good idea. We're on top of that plan for sure. I'm sure everyone's heart was in the right place as they offered up suggestions in addition to that, such as "try ignoring his negative behavior" (really?), but toward the end of the conference, I got the distinct impression that folks were out of ideas on how to help Connor assimilate into life. They encouraged us to share with them any future revelations we come up with as we pursue counseling for him. Hm. Meeting adjourned.
I hung up the phone and about five minutes later received a text from Steve. "Going to get in line to pick up the kids. Be home in a bit." Good deal. Five minutes after that, another text:
"Problem. Incident in the class while we were meeting. He made a knife and threatened to kill someone. They're going to get him and bring him to meet with me and the Principal."
In my head, I was going, perfect timing, Kiddo. Seriously??? Turns out he'd been waiting his turn at a game in the classroom and another student decided to change the rules while he watched them play. It drove him batty. When she refused to play it correctly, he drew out a chunk of playground mulch that came to a point at one end (he's notorious for collecting nature objects) and told her if she didn't, he'd use his "knife" on her. Sounds innocuous enough when seen in that context, but of course the school has a strict no tolerance policy on that sort of interaction. So he was saddled with one day of ISS (in-school suspension). He had absolutely no idea why everyone was making such a big deal about it. I'm still not sure he does. In his head, he was delivering vigilante justice to a girl who broke the law. The adults have the problem. Not him. What is wrong with people, anyway? It was only after we talked laboriously over the entire incident that he finally began to see how his behavior affected others. He felt pretty bad. We cuddled and he went to bed. But then the next morning he popped out of bed and asked, "Am I still grounded?" I assured him he was. To which he replied, "WHYYYY??"
Is it any wonder Steve and I are exhausted? Ha! But look at this gorgeous kid:
It would appear I ought to save the news on my other chickadees for another post. This one was cathartic enough. More to come. Thanks for the vent.