While I was in trial, I was missing not just from this blog, but from many little daily events in my son’s life. It’s a weird feeling. Like I’m a bit of an outsider, pushing my way back in at the end of each day. Then, like a receding tide, moving back out into the ocean. Back and forth.
I’d always thought that when the little guy started kindergarten, I’d feel some sadness. Shed a tear or need a hanky for his first day. Instead, however, I was calling a witness in Department 39 of the Sacramento Superior Court on day 29 of trial. Waiting to grill someone on cross-examination, 30 miles from the kindergarten. Jessica and T’s senior tutor, Trista, held his hands, and walked him three buildings over from our office to the doorway of his classroom and signed him in. He was fine.
I felt hollow and empty for missing that event but overwhelmed with testimony and exhibits in the biggest fight of my life, I had no time to obsess and accepted the obvious. My little boy is growing up. How did that happen? Where the hell did my summer go?
Before he was born, I dreamt of the day that I would walk my son to kindergarten. When I was his age, I remember my mom walking me to and from kindergarten at a neighborhood church. Not because we were devoutly religious, but because this was where kindergarten was located.
I have only the vaguest and spottiest of recollections of that time. I remember lining up to go outside for recess, some finger painting, putting our heads down to play 7-up (does anyone else remember that classroom game?) and being taught the song “How Great Thou Art” from a book that was about 2 x 3 feet. I was amazed at the size of the pages of that book. I had no idea what the words meant or who this song was about but I liked the tune and would try to follow along.
Now, my little guy is singing his own songs, signing in by writing his name on a dry-erase easel, putting away his backpack in his cubby, drawing and writing (reluctantly – I might add), doing patterns as part of math, and reading. (I never did reading, writing or math until 1st grade!) He also has homework…
From what I have heard, his reading surpasses the other kids. This has become my “Asian-Tiger-Mama” (you know I’m kidding about that label, right?) favorite story:
The teachers put sight words on the board. The example I was given is colors. They will put, perhaps, five words on the board. Then, they will ask how many of the words that the children recognize. Some of the kids know a couple. T, very matter-of-factly reads them all.
I love to see my son excel. I mean, who doesn’t? For all the moms who I know through the blogging community, each and every one of our ASD children has a special talent. It could be math, reading, music, drawing, writing, expert knowledge on a particular subject, computer literacy, video gaming prowess, just about anything. And don’t get me wrong. None of the kids, of which I am aware, is a savant. But the talents and the focus that comes with autism are a blessing inside the disability.
I have heard so many stories of bullying and cruel children on the playground from other moms of kids with ASD and my heart bleeds and breaks every single time. I hate it. There’s no way to sugar-coat that. But so far (knock on wood), I have not received any of these kinds of reports. Maybe I’m being shielded. I find that hard to believe though, so I’m just accepting that it is not an issue for now.
The reports I am getting tell me that he is having a lot of difficulty following directions. They call it “group non-verbal” to describe when the teacher tells the kids to stand or sit down or go to their tables. T does not follow group non-verbal much at all. He does not sing with the class. I hear he’s trying and he likes the songs.
He gets group instruction while in the circle, gets to table and doesn’t do the project. He looks around the class and spaces out instead. When he has one-on-one instruction, he seems to be okay.
On the playground, the other kids have been encouraged to play with T and T has been encouraged to play with the other kids. I don’t know the extent of the success on this yet. I do know that when I show up to pick him up at noon, all the kids shout out “Goodbye T!” and wave and smile as he leaves the classroom. He is starting to say “goodbye” back (we’re still struggling with the eye contact in that regard).
All in all, I can see his challenges and they’re no surprise. Socialization, behavior, attention, communication. Sound familiar? Why can’t these things just get better with age? I feel like we’re running and running but I look up and we’re far behind the pack and running in place. Maybe, someday, we might catch up.
Here’s to hope.