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Are we doing him any favors?

Little Man is doing well lately. We are in one of those quiet seasons for the most part. He does have his moments, but at school and at home, we have everything in place to help him.  I have noticed though, that maybe we’re letting him slide on some things because it’s just easier to do so. He didn’t want to shower this morning, saying he’d showered yesterday. Exhausted, having just arrived back home from a trip last night, I caved rather than fight him on it. Some days, I just don’t have the energy to do battle. After he had left for school, though, and I was out on my walk, I realized I’ve probably been doing this in little ways for awhile, trying to keep him level, keep the peace. I’m not doing him any favors.

It’s a difficult balance to find. The wonderful oppositional defiant disorder, combined with the tantrums and meltdowns of high functioning autism are quite daunting. As we edge closer to middle school, I’m feeling we need to push him a bit, even knowing that will most definitely mean some push-back.  For instance, he hasn’t been reading much. Reading is supposed to be part of his daily homework. And they  have the Accelerated Reader program at school. I’ve been fighting all year to get him to stay up with the minimum amount of points he is supposed to achieve each semester. I’ve told him he has to read for 25 minutes when he gets home from school, before he gets his iPod. That was maybe two weeks ago. I think I’ve followed-through two days out of 14.  Gah! I’m failing him.  It’s so hard.  I know he’s capable of reading and comprehending at a high level so I don’t make him do it. It’s not something he struggles with. But I know I need to push him on this.

He has had missing assignments in class all year. We go rounds on it every time he gets a progress report. He is so completely unorganized. I waver between helping him every day to put his stuff together, and knowing the need for him to work on his organizational skills without constant oversight, and with some natural consequences. But I get busy, or we’re running here and there in the afternoons, and I forget to make him take out his homework calendar to show me if he’s filled it in with his assignments, much less done the work. And his grades still seem to be just fine, so what’s the incentive?

I’m struggling here. He’s having good days at school. He knows he has choices when his work is done in the classroom. Sometimes I think it might do him well to have some of those choices taken away, especially until he brings his AR points up or finds those missing assignments in the black hole better known as his desk. But it will mean stress for him, change for him, probably some angry response, or meltdowns again. I have to look at him as the whole kid….the child I need to not just get through this year, but get ready for the years which are coming. Where do you find the balance in that?

In this moment, today, I feel we need to push him a bit towards compliance on some things. I feel we need to deal with the fallout involved so he will be ready for middle school and high school. We’ve given him a certain amount of control, which while necessary on some level, is also encouraging him to continue on his own merry path. I don’t know the right answer to this one. I don’t want to disrupt what’s working, but I also have a kid I need to prepare for the world beyond school.

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