I’d have to say, the calls from school I enjoy the most this year are the ones I get from Little Man’s speech therapist. She has special insight into him, as her sister, about the same age as LM, is also high-functioning autistic. In other words, she gets it. She gets the wins, and she shares them. I can hear the smile in her voice when she calls to tell me that, while he wasn’t doing art in art class, he was engaging with his classmates, advocating for himself, and bouncing back quickly from a small blip of a meltdown. Yes, she did call me on a Friday afternoon to share that exact thing. I adore this young woman. She has given me the ability to give myself permission to not stress about his academics this year, and focus on getting him settled at his new school with an entirely new team. Wow, did that sentence make sense? She’s taught me to focus on the wins, to try not to let the bad days get to me.
She called me again late last week. The autism/autistic discussion had come up in his class the other day. He openly admitted to his entire class he is autistic (his good friends know, and a couple of girls he worked on a project with earlier in the school year). He just said, “I’m autistic, this is what it means, and this is what it’s like.” He shared his life, and the kids were receptive. That’s a brave, bold thing for any sixth grader to do….talk in a classroom full of peers about the ways he is different.
He’s owning it, being autistic. Yes, being the smart, manipulative kid he can be, he sometimes uses it as an excuse. If he scares you, he knows it, depends upon it to get his way. Although even that is a tool in his toolbox – a way of communicating something is going on that’s uncomfortable for him. But he’s owning it – this part of who he is. And I’m proud of him.
Yes, that’s what his speech teacher called to tell me. It was a win, and she felt I deserved to know about it. Have I mentioned I’m grateful for her?