Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Social Graces and Nonverbal Little Brothers

I haven’t posted about Jack in a while.  It’s kind of hard to explain, I guess the best way to put it is that he talks, he is in mainstream school.  While his progress may be a bit slower than other kids his age, he is managing and that is worth its weight in gold to me.   Nate has become my major project for obvious reasons.

Jack is in first grade- last year I came the closest I have ever come to fully asserting my authority as his mom, and as a result of this, and a wonderfully supportive staff, Jack is well-equipped at this point to accomplish the goals that were set for him.  Does he resist writing?  Like you wouldn’t believe.  Does he try to get out of reading?  Every single day.  “mommy, you start reading now”- and that’s after the first page.  But I know how to trick him into reading- he’s pretty straight forward- if you entice him with something that’s within his area of interest, he is actually pretty easy.  He had to “earn” wearing his Halloween costume to school- he was a world war II fighter pilot- extra math homework on the computer every night for a week.  He did it, and when he would start to complain, I would remind him of the costume and he was good to go.

His assistive technology “plan” is being put into place- he has a word processor available to him at all times, and he continues with a scribe for tests and longer assignments.  It has made a world of difference for him.  His aid this year was with him for quite a bit of the time last year, and you can tell that she is really looking out for him.  The same thing applies for his OT- and the special educator, while she is “new to us”, has been extremely communicative.  I miss his kindergarten teacher- I really felt part of the team when he was in her class because she kept me informed of any issues or challenges that Jack was facing.  It was a very comforting feeling.  This year there is quite a bit less of this, which is not a fault of his current teacher, just a different style.  It was more like this when Jack was in pre-K, and it’s fine, just takes some adjusting on my part.  It also keeps me from becoming a helicopter mom.  I made the decision to do minimal volunteering in his classroom for the same reason- it stresses me out sooooo much, and I know that having me there really interferes with his learning.  Not to mention, this mama is just a bit busy these days.  Jack is struggling a bit with math- which is also a challenge for me because I LOVE math and have a hard time remaining patient when he doesn’t “get” something. 

Most of the issues and major developments with Jack revolve around his social world.  His view of others is changing, his desire to be around other kids is greater.  This is awesome- but it comes in fits and starts and he really struggles with being appropriate in social contexts.  He has the tendency to take things too far, make other kids uncomfortable or annoyed.  He has had a few ahem, “conflicts” with a little girl at school, although I honestly think it’s more “flirting” than anything else.  I had to have several “talking to’s” with him, and even banned him from watching airplane videos one evening- that definitely had the desired effect.  I haven’t heard of any further issues in the last week or so, keeping my fingers crossed.  Jack talks about “friends” from school more these days, asks for play dates, etc.  He has also gotten somewhat attached to the school nurse, and seems to visit her for the smallest reasons- luckily she loves him.  Kind of cracks me up that when she calls she ends up gushing and asking me how I can ever “discipline” him.  I told her that after 6 years, the cuteness factor kind of erodes, ha.

The downside?  Jack is kind of fed up with Nathan.  He wants his brother to play with him, interact with him, or frankly at this point, just react to him.  And he really doesn’t- unless Jack really ticks him off.  So Jack constantly tries to annoy him just so that Nate will acknowledge him.  It’s not hard to know when he’s succeeded as Nathan, while “nonverbal”, has no problem with shrieking at the top of his lungs.  Jack has even asked for a “new brother who talks” on multiple occasions.  He insists on calling Nathan a baby and says he wants a bigger brother.  If John and I knew we could give him a neurotypical brother or sister we might just do it at this point.  Having a sibling who won’t engage at all is almost worse than being an only child in some ways- because they are right there, but not.  I feel like this is part of the reason Jack has trouble with peers sometimes- he doesn’t have a “baseline” of what’s appropriate, other than his buddies.  He tries to treat them the same way he does Nate, because he knows it will get a reaction, but of course this doesn’t go over too well. 

We need to do more play dates- my anxiety over his sometime inappropriate behavior should not stand in the way of this, but I am ashamed to say that this is sometimes the case.  I need to get over it, it’s just much harder than it sounds.  Which is why I’m ecstatic that a mom at Jack’s adaptive swim lessons who has I believe one son on the spectrum and one son with Down’s,  gave me her card tonight and told me to call her.  Jack made a little friend!  Good stuff.  Because the idea of having another child is more terrifying than I can even put into words- I don’t know if I am capable of having a neurotypical child and I feel irresponsible taking that chance.  I know that most of the girls on both sides of our families have been neurotypical, but I also know that I have had two boys, and have 4 nephews and one niece.  The odds are not in our favor on that one.  It’s not that I don’t “want” another child on the spectrum, I just don’t know that I am physically capable of doing all of the things for another child that I am doing for these two right now.  The thought of it makes me want to just schedule lots and lots of play dates, ha.


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