Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Are you proud?"

Where do I begin?

You're all probably aware of how exceedingly proud I am of my son.  He's made great strides in his career as a student.  I've written briefly about his ability to overcome the many challenges a child with Asperger's Syndrome faces.  Rather than go into a dissertation on AS, I've provided the link. Just know, for the sake of this post, that for Mancub it has imposed upon his social interaction, concentration and coordination.  Never has it been my desire to make that the focus of why I bask in his accomplishments.  However, today's post deems it necessary.

Big changes can often disrupt the balance an Aspie has persevered in managing.  Taking on the basic tasks of changing schools and tackling harder studies of being a freshman put me on high alert for Mancub.  He's always had to deal with kids who don't like that he's different from them.  That's not to say all kids who endure the bullying of such neanderthals are Aspies.  How Mancub reacts in these situations is what often sets him apart.  He becomes visibly agitated and, oftentimes, emotionally erupts.  I've faced facts that I cannot always protect him nor can the teachers.  He must consciously process everything and then categorize it so it's less troubling.  Keeping focus on his studies in class takes a lot of effort.  This is especially tricky when the class is over crowded and disturbances abound ... even worse if there are students who know how to goad him to the point of an outburst.

Freshman year started out quite well.  His grades were high.  Then, Labor Day rolled around.  Along with it came increased enrollment.  Class size increased.  With that came more disruptions and less one on one time.  The result was falling grades for Mancub.  Weekly I receive a progress report from his case worker (who is phenomenal and I'd love to give her an award for it).  I freaked upon viewing his Science and Global Studies grades.  I've always been accustomed to seeing As and Bs and maybe a C, but never did a D cross his path.  A stern discussion took place between mother and son.  Emails were written on his behalf to the teachers and copied to his case worker.  Pleas that missing work would be accepted with a lowered grade.  Denied.  Rules are rules.  We signed the agreement when the class syllabus was sent home.  All that could be done at this point was diligence.  It came to light that he wasn't handing in work because he hadn't completed every question or problem.  He was putting completed work in the wrong baskets.  Work was being lost. 

Over the course of a couple weeks we reorganized his binders.  Homework was being done immediately after school.  Due to parent teacher conferences nearing, weekly progress reports halted.  I was in the dark but Mancub assured me all was well.  Rather than question his word, I had faith that he was telling me the truth.  I took him at his word when he said homework was finished.  Although, I do admit this is terribly difficult to do.  He needs to taste success without mommy running to the rescue or helping just a little too much. 

Fast forward to October 29.  The date of my parent-teacher conference. I was wringing my hands with nervousness and anxious anticipation.  I was encouraged by his case worker to bring Mancub along.  So, I convinced him to tag along in order to be part of any discussions mandated by his grades.

Upon checking in at the high school I was handed his report card.  I glanced at Mancub who was smirking as if he knew already.  Tears. I had to breathe deeply and fight back tears of what I read.  No longer did I see the little boy who'd have tantrums because the din of the cafeteria was more than he could bear.  A young man who is capable of holding his own put his arms around me and asked, "Are you proud?"

As we sat at the table labeled with Mancub's name and our appointment time, teacher after teacher sat down to sing his praises.  With each encounter more tears would well up.  He's not only bright but respectful to everyone.  There's a newfound comfort zone in socializing appropriately.  His Global Studies teachers says he often makes everyone laugh with him via his unique sense of humor.  His Spanish teacher says he is the only student who greets her each day with vivacious "buenos dias!"  The D that had sullied his progress report was turned into a B!! The C is now a B+.  The rest is all As!!! My son is getting an A in Algebra.  I'm so mathematically challenged that I had to beg my teacher for a D, for pity's sake. 

When we'd spoken to all of his teachers his case worker remained behind.  I took the opportunity to praise her for being proactive and for taking a personal stake in Mancub's success. She calls me at home to follow up on things we've discussed.  She'll have conversations with Mancub and listens to what he has to say.  Through all of this many tears flowed.  Mancub's reaction to it all? He turned to the case worker and said, "I think my Mama needs a hug" and he proceeded to envelope me in his arms.  The babe that I once cradled in my arms is now offering me comfort.

I would be remiss not to mention that upon returning home I emailed the special education resource teacher who was instrumental in getting Mancub tested for Asperger's in his repeat year of kindergarten.  She wouldn't accept that his previous school had categorized him as behavior disorder.  None of his tantrums were deliberate means of gaining control.  He was sweet and compassionate, but obviously lost and confused in the sea of chaos that existed within his mind.  We've shared many struggles, as well as, triumphs in Mancub's education.  Her unyielding determination to seek out the best avenues and accommodations for him has been vital.  I thanked her for becoming a teacher. Thanks was given for writing out his first IEP (Individualized Education Program). That single document has been a blueprint for his achievement. She wrote me back in a matter of an hour.  She said my email brought tears to her eyes and that she would love for me to remain in touch.

We owe so much. Thank you seems to not be enough, but words really fail when I attempt to express my gratitude.  Mancub is living proof of what a difference one teacher can make.  Yet, we've been blessed with countless educators.  For that, I am truly left ........



  1. This is such a good thing! I can't stop smiling for both of you, and for his teachers and case worker, what a team!

  2. Thanks so much. The blessings are bountiful

  3. I love these kinds of posts. Congratulations to you both! A in Algebra? I'm right there with ya, sister. "Can you please just pass me??"

  4. This is FANTASTIC! I'm so happy for both of you. You both have a right to be proud & feel sooo good!

  5. What a great post -- I am smiling and crying all at once. Your son never fails to amaze me and his mama is one of a kind :)

  6. I have a child with the same disability. When I see what a smart & terrific young man he has become I see the ghosts of every teacher who stood behind him, took the time and believed in him. People tell me all the time he is where he is because of me. I tell them no - there are numerous people who also helped him along his way. Most of all, like your son, he is mostly where he is because he refuses the limits that society feels they must place on him because of his disability. He will make it - and so will your son. Here is for all the other kids who did not have that special teacher, parapro, therapist, etc. Remember them in your prayers.
    From: GAGirl

  7. P.S.
    I stunk at math too (which drove my dad the accountant nuts) and my kid gets A's. Sometimes he will ask me for help and I tell him:
    "X and I have been estranged from about 20 years. Y and I have NEVER been friends."


  8. Thanks, all of you.

    GAGirl, I had no idea, but I'm glad that someone reading posts like this understands where I'm writing from. I get to bask in the glory of his achievements, but really take little credit. The teachers who've listened to my concerns are really the ones who deserve praise.


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