Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Different Start to the School Year

Daughter started public high school this year - 9th grade - she loves it and we're dealing.

Thing One is in 7th grade and returning to the public middle school he attended last year. I'm thankful he doesn't have any weird transitions to make because change is not his favorite thing and he was and continues to be very successful at this wonderful school. He's in honors humanities, 8th grade math, loves band and is looking forward to being in the drama club again. Word on the street is that the production this year will be The Music Man. Last year they did Pirates of Penzance.

Thing Two is going to 7th grade at home. He is enrolled in a "Virtual Academy" in Washington State that is an online school. For the past 7 years he has gone to the same public elementary and middle school as his brother and sister do/did but has struggled with his interactions with his peers.

When the boys were nine I finally copped to the fact that they were not your average kids and maybe some medical detective work was in order to see what we could do to help them out. They went through extensive testing, evaluations with neuro-docs and psychiatrists, yadda yadda yadda and the end diagnosis was Asperger's Syndrome. But the neurologist saw something more in Thing Two and he got a couple of extra diagnosis (diagnosi?) in addition to AS. With two years of seeing a psychologist weekly, the care of a psychiatrist and medication as well as husband and I learning a whole new way of parenting these two unusual kids, they are doing wonderfully well and thriving. Except Thing Two, at school, with the kids he has grown up with.

The years of diagnosis and therapy were hell for him and school was not a great place to be. I pretty much went to all of fourth grade with him to help him with appropriate reactions and behaviors but he was suspended for the first time that year and many many more suspensions followed. It wasn't the school's fault, they did the best they could, and it wasn't Thing Two's fault, he just had a lot of things he needed to learn to deal and cope with. We all did our best and have come out the other side better for it. But those kids at school that saw him at his worst - they haven't forgotten. And he has become stuck in a pattern of behavior and reactions with them. They expect him to behave like he did at his worst, even now when he is doing so SO well, and he reacts to him in that same old way because they expect it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy from hell.

So to break the pattern, we've pulled him from school. He still has teachers, a curriculum and books that are provided for us, and will be keeping up with his brother in his studies. But he will not be at school. I am willing to try anything once and we have learned in the past that creative parenting and problem solving is the way to go with this kid. He is not an average 12 year old so we can't treat him like one.

He is a dedicated gamer and has a group he plays D&D with on a regular basis, he is deciding on some extra-curricular activities such as 4-H and fencing (???) so he will still be hanging out with other kids, just not the same kids he has spent so much time with up until now. In watching him this summer, he made instant friends everywhere we went. I know he can have successful relationships with his peers, just not the ones that expect the OLD behavior from him.

I'm excited for this school year and also a little nervous. My role will be completely different and I have new things to learn. But if it means Thing Two can finally find his niche and enjoy school and other kids, it will all be worth it.


Shelly... said...

I am excited for Thing 2 and can't wait to hear on his progress. I know this will be good for him. Kids can be such little assholes! I'm glad he won't be around the old classmates.
Daughter and Thing 1 should have a good school year too especially since none of their siblings will be at school with them!

Jason said...

I wish you all the best. It sounds like you're handling everything very well.