Autism vs. Being A Pain In The Ass

Pardon me as I blog typing with two thumbs on my phone. I’ve eked out the only semi-quiet place I can find. If you find glaring errors of spelling and grammar, it’s because I’m on the phone; certainly not because I lack writing skills.

Today, I read about a wonderful thing one of my friends experienced. I was happy for her yet I had a terrible thought that reduced me to tears smack dab in the middle of the orthodontists office. Perhaps the terrible thought came because of the email I’d just sent one of BigBrudder’s teachers regarding his behavior. Maybe I should back up.

The other day, I had a whole blog planned in my head about how our life isn’t all about autism. It’s not. Sometimes, it’s about relationships, friendships, family life, doctors appointments for both kids, worry for both kids, school, shopping, reading, sleepovers, sleeping…But you know what? Autism is always underneath each of those things. Always a running current in my thoughts. Maybe it’s in the background a lot, but autism doesn’t take a break. Not really. Maybe, I should back up again.

Yesterday around BigBrudder’s lunchtime, I got a text from his school psychologist letting me know that he’d had a meltdown in the cafeteria over them showing Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Who shows MMCH to nine and ten year olds, anyway? But that’s not the point.) he hasn’t had a meltdown in quite a while. He was so loud, she could hear him in her office; she went and got BB, and finished up lunch in her office. He went and jumped on the trampoline in the focus room for a few minutes because recess was cancelled. The day went on and I had no further communication. Great!

I picked the boys up and could tell that one of Big’s teachers was shadowing him. Crap. Yep. That’s eye contact. Double crap. As I pull to a stop, the boys get in and she opens the passenger door. Uh-oh. She lets me know that BigBrudder refused to use his strategies and made a 50 on a test. I said something to the effect of “thank you, and we’ll be talking with him about this.”

Hubs and I had one of those lectures that had me channeling my dad. “If a fifty was the best you could do, I’d be shouting from the rooftops. But a fifty isn’t the best you can do. You had to try really hard at not trying to get a fifty.” I may or may not have also said, “you were being a pain in your teachers ass. Autism has nothing to do with refusing to use the tools she’s given you to succeed.” I admitted to being a pain in the ass too, sometimes. It was the kind of good lecture where you don’t yell and you know your kid is listening and hearing because he’s got those tears that he’s trying to hold back. The thing that I told him about his being a pain in the ass had nothing to do with autism, that’s a half truth. His brain is so stuck on that class being stressful that before he even gets in there he’s tense and rigid. That part of it IS autism. Have you ever tried to teach someone with a rigid brain? (His teacher deserves a raise, by the way.) It’s not easy to change that mindset.

I would truly be ecstatic if BigBrudder made a fifty and that was his best. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not. He’s gifted. Profoundly so. My struggle is finding a way to unlock the potential. To ease the rigid brain. To find ways for him to connect to the lesson, even when it’s not about dinosaurs or beekeeping or MineCraft. To find a way for him to see how much these teachers want for him to succeed and to connect with him. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how smart he is if he can’t learn to function in the world around him. He doesn’t have a trust fund (shocking, I know), he won’t be able to float around this world doing whatever he wants. He’s going to have to listen to his teachers, professors and eventually bosses…what I want to do is sweep him up, keep him in this bubble, phrase questions so that he will always know the answer. But as I mama I know what I have to do: I have to let him struggle some, no matter how much it hurts my heart. I have to know that I’m learning and struggling too and that’s okay. We’ll continue to have the good lectures, telling him not to be a pain in his teachers ass, learning along the way.


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