Sunday, December 16, 2012

Autism Diaries XLII: busted, teased, and beloved

This year's first marking period has ended, and I've enjoyed yet another uplifting series of parent-teacher conferences at J's school.

This school continues to be a bunch of firsts for us. It's the first school that has welcomed J in rather than freaked out about having him. It's the first school that is considered, by all parties concerned, to be the best possible school for J--despite the fact that he's by far the most atypical student they have (and perhaps have ever had). It's the first school where he's managed to get through the day--for weeks now--without any behavior problems and without any one-on-one services. And it's the first school where teachers really get him without me having to keep explaining to them how his mind works (and arguing that I'm not just a deluded parent, but that my son really is smart in certain ways). They appreciate his strengths along with his weaknesses, and, perhaps most startling of all, are able to laugh along with me at his occasional foibles. 

At the last parent-teacher conference, his fantastic algebra/precalc teacher told me about how she'd recently caught on to a cheating strategy he'd devised for ensuring perfect scores on the "weekly warmups." He'd turn his paper in along with everyone else. Then they'd go over the problems. And if he noticed at that point that he had, say, forgotten to distribute a negative factor across an expression, he'd wait until the end of class, and then tell Ms. H that he'd forgotten to put his name on his warmup sheet. With her permission he'd fish out his sheet and "put his name" on it.

After a few such incidents, Ms. H made a point of noticing whether J's name might just possibly already be right there on his sheet when he turned it in. It was. When he told her later that he'd forgotten his name, she called him on it. At that point one of his classmates called out what has become J's favorite new word: "Busted!" Not only did Ms. H call him on it, she did exactly what I would have done next: both threatened him with a bad consequence next time (a zero), and spent some time teasing him about how she'd caught him. (Highly amused by the concept well before he learned its label, J's always been surprisingly good natured when "busted"-- so much so that he practically invites extensive teasing).

Ms. H and I had a good laugh over this, as I did later with the special ed teacher, and, later on at home, with J. And I was struck by a single Big First that sums up all these others: this is the first school J's attended where I've felt like we're all (even J) not only on the same page, but on the same side.


Mnemosyne's Notebook said...

Good for J and you. I hope it stays that way!

Catherine Johnson said...

oh boy....the first school where you're on the same side...gosh

'on the same page/on the same side' is a great way of putting it --- captures our experience with C at the middle school here exactly

not on the same page, but ***also*** not on the same side

With Andrew and Jimmy, on the other hand, in the same very small school district, we've always been on the same page and the same side

it's like two different worlds here (or was - C is a freshman in college now. the new principal at the middle school is much better & the superintendent has been replaced)

I don't know what things are like at the middle school now

Catherine Johnson said...

what a relief for all of you!