Whereas Z’s report card consisted almost entirely of threes (“meets grade level expectations”), G’s report card was pretty evenly split between twos (“making progress toward meeting grade level expectations”) and fours (“exceeds grade level expectations”).
Always with the Full Spectrum, eh?
But this was a familiar report card: G is excelling in certain areas, and struggling in others. Although my report cards tended more toward fours because of my strengths in executive function, I knew G was doing his best and I celebrated the quantified results of that effort.
G’s conference wasn’t spent talking about ways to get him to work harder. His teacher and I both know he is working his fanny off. Even for those twos, he is working. His conference was spent on other concerns. Conferring about how he’s mostly with adults on the playground – and how he says, “Thank you for hanging out with me” to them. How he sits with his teachers on the bus – and thanks them for letting him sit next to them. How, during winter sports, he, again, stayed back with the grownups and told them, always, “Thank you for playing with me.”
[I’m thinking, please, no, I DO NOT WANT TO
HEAR THIS YOU ARE KILLING ME! I thought he was playing with other kids! He said
he was!] That combination of
pathetic and clueless and kind and grateful and well-mannered is also very
What do you say to your child about this sort of news? “G, you need to be less thankful and also not go near adults?” Clearly, he’s making these choices for reasons that make sense to him. For one thing, according to his teacher the preteen girl posse he’d been rolling with since the start of school was still somewhat friendly and protective, but now they were more teens than pre- -- with the attendant changes and concerns that come with that shift. For another thing: sixth grade/sixth graders. Blech – who can understand it/them?
Then his teacher explained how he has a hard time working with groups: first, he gets very upset if people don’t do exactly what they are assigned to do in the group or what they say they are going to do; second, others try to do his work for him to “help” him because of his slow processing, which is insulting. Group work is big these days – so it’s a big issue for kids for whom it’s not a natural fit.
Feeling a wave of despair at this point, I wondered if this was all just too much for G, and if he would be better off in a different setting, perhaps a specialized classroom. His teacher replied – quite vehemently – that he would not. She admitted that he does struggle in the mainstream classroom setting, but that she is certain that it’s the best environment for him, just as I have always believed.
There’s a child in G’s class who is more obviously “autistic” than G. This child receives a lot of attention and is doted on by many of the girls in the class. I’ve already had to explain to G that the reason all the girls “like” this other boy is because they want to help him and take care of him. I asked him if he wants people to “feel sorry for him” in that way and he replied with a very strong “No!” In his teacher’s words, G “is not quite different enough to be a mascot and don’t want him to be!” Yet he’s still “different” in ways that set him apart, for example: “He still hugs me – sixth graders do NOT hug teachers!” Well, his teacher is pretty durn wonderful…
Again, what does one say in this situation, as a parent? “No hugging!”????
G is trying to integrate sixth grade social rules…at his own pace! For one thing, as I mentioned at the end of the conference, he studiously and elaborately avoids me at All School Sings. Except – one time, when we were singing “You are my Sunshine,” he looked over at me (because he knows he is my sunshine) and I was **sobbing** and that was the end of even looking at Mom during such events.
And rightly so! I am so embarrassing. No, I am. Thank you, dear reader, for reading this, for playing with me, for sitting with us on the Full Spectrum bus.
Full Spectrum Mama