Perspective is everything

October 20, 2010 at 6:36 am 8 comments

     It’s been several years now, but I still vividly remember the last interaction I had with C’s principal at his Montessori Kindergarten. “It doesn’t matter where you go,” he said to me. “He won’t qualify for an IEP anywhere. He’s too smart.”

     That conversation took place the last day C attended his school, a mere three months into the year. I still fantasize about sending this principal the very full IEP C has had since then, coupled with his report cards (all of which show him at or above grade level in every subject). Being smart – or being on grade level – doesn’t automatically disqualify a child from having an IEP. How is it that I, the parent, knew it, but every single professional at that school didn’t? 

     As recently as last spring, I began to think about the day C would no longer need an IEP. Could he finally graduate from special education? I know he’ll always be his quirky self, but is it possible he will some day no longer need services? Then C started at his new school, in his small classroom, with his very observant teacher and a special education teacher who really gets it. And for the first time in years, we had an IEP meeting that was hard for me to sit through.

     It wasn’t all about how great C is doing. This school wants to increase C’s services, and increase them dramatically. While there were the usual wonderful comments about how bright and delightful C is, it was paired with comments that cut to the bone.

     “C is being unfair at recess. He’s cheating at tag, and the kids don’t like it.”

     “C got S in trouble when he told the teacher S had hit him when he hadn’t.”

     “We can’t let him get away with things anymore just because he’s cute.”    

     Ouch, ouch, and more ouch. It was a sleepless night for me. I was frustrated and angry, despite knowing what they said was absolutely true. I knew I was being completely defensive – I knew it, because none of this was a surprise to me. C does cheat because he hates to lose. He doesn’t seem to notice how much it irritates other kids when he does that. And S has said mean things to him since day one at his new school, and he’s a little obsessed with S now. Saying he’d been hit was probably C’s way of lashing out at S. And darn it all if C’s dimples can disarm me to the point of distraction when I am trying to redirect, give consequences, or otherwise discipline bad behavior. Let’s face it, the kid is beyond cute by any standards, and it has probably gotten him out of various situations over the years.

     But what was beneath it all was what disturbed me the most. Yes, C is doing well, he’s delightful, and he’s made astounding progress. That is always clear. What I realized, however, is that his particular struggles haven’t really disappeared as much as I thought they had. C’s challenges are simply more noticeable now because he’s in a smaller class. It’s probably not that C has been so steadily improving that his old school wanted to cut his services – it’s more likely that they just didn’t notice how much he needed them.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

c-isms I will not be silent

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pixiemama  |  October 20, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Oh, ouch. I bet that was super tough. Sorry mama, but it sounds like a really great school for C to be at right now. It’s good that the staff is seeing the areas where C needs attention, and is willing to give him the attention he needs.


  • 2. autismisnot  |  October 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I just wrote about a similar experience. Sometimes it is so hard to hear what others see in our children. I am glad C is going to get the services he needs.

  • 3. goodfountain  |  October 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Ultimately though this what we want – someone who really “sees” our kids. C is going to benefit so much from these kinds of supports. (I’m also kinda wondering if the same thing will hold true for my C in a few years…)

  • 4. therocchronicles  |  October 20, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Even though it is hard to hear, isn’t it so wonderful that he is at a place where they are willing to give him the help he needs? I’m so glad you found such a place! C is an amazing guy, and you are an amazing Mom!

  • 5. akbutler  |  October 21, 2010 at 3:41 am

    perspective is everything, you’re right. that kick in the gut is so hard to hear, but it sounds like they really “get” him, and are willing to work with him and you. I’ve seen the opposite. Hurray for you for finding such a place for him that truly cares about helping every aspect of his life, and not just focusing on the academics.

  • 6. Angie  |  October 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hey friend! Haven’t touched base with you in a while. Sorry for those gut wrenching comments. I went through that at the beginning of this year and it is hard.

    But just think of the amazing progress he will make now that he is getting everything he deserves! My boy just had his best conference ever so I left feeling happy, not crying:)

  • 7. robinaltman  |  October 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

    That must have been tough. This school is going to be great for C, but you might need to go buy more wine for the house.

  • 8. Caitlin  |  October 26, 2010 at 6:57 am

    It takes a pretty strong and wise mama to not only swallow those comments, but be able to see their purpose and long term benefit. It sounds like they have a balanced view of C, and sometimes we need the school to have that because, well, it’s pretty impossible to ask US to have it when those little doe eyes are sparkling up at us 😉


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