Many of you have patiently read the last couple of posts about our experiences as the parent of a child with special needs. And you guys have responded with some of the most affirming and supportive comments. I appreciate that very much.
In this last post, I want to give a "shout out" to Son17. Sure, we've struggled to figure out how to be good parents to a kid who came without an instruction manual. But Son17 is the one who really struggles.
He has many obstacles to overcome. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is that Asperger's Syndrome can impact the executive functions of the brain. I'm no neurology expert, but I know this it the part of the brain that helps a person organize. And Son17's lack of organization is apparent to everyone. The lost homework, the school papers in the wrong notebook, the deadlines missed because he thought they were at a different time, the clean laundry and the dirty laundry in the same pile. These are obvious and there are many coping strategies we use to help with those.
But the executive center of the brain also controls a person's ability to self-motivate. And you would not believe how many times teachers and family members have told us "if he would just try a little harder". But he can't. Not always. Trying harder requires self-motivation. And that just isn't always there for him. And I think that is one of the biggest challenges he faces.
But what I think of as barriers for him are not always what he thinks of as barriers. It is fascinating to learn how things seem from his point of view. I've shared a couple of those things in other posts. Easy Mac Breakdown pointed out just how hard it is for him to step outside the "rules" and estimate just a bit. And A Moment of Insight stopped me in my tracks as I realized he had a problem that I would have never even considered.
But he surprised me even more one day when he told me he wished he had Down's Syndrome. His one friend has Down's Syndrome and Son17 was wishing he had the same. Astonished, I asked why? His answer was that his friend looks like he has a disability. Because of that, people know that he does and so they don't tease him or nag him when he does something that seems different. But Son17 looks pretty regular, so people often forget or just don't understand the nature of his disability. As a result, he is sometimes teased or shunned as just being "weird" (his word, not mine). This brought to mind one of the most powerful DVD's I've ever seen as a professional and as a parent. Last One Picked...First One Picked On focuses on this struggle that Son17 has experienced over and over in his life. In an ideal world, that DVD would be required viewing for everyone working in the field of education.
We've all seen the bumper stickers that hang on the back of so many cars today..."Proud Parent Of An Anytown High School Honor Student". Son17 has made the honor roll a couple of times. But that isn't the bumper sticker I want. I want one that says..."Proud Parent Of A Kid Who Faced So Many Challenges And Still Was Successful A Lot Of The Time".
That might be a lot to put on a bumper sticker. So Son17, consider this your bumper sticker. We know how hard it is for you. And we admire every accomplishment you've made.