For those of you that don’t know I’m a huge Parenthood fan, (the TV show, although I love being a Parent too hehe). Last week’s episode has been replaying in my mind over and over again.
My Husband would probably agree that I’m alot like Kristina from the show, (the mother of Max who has Aspergers), she worries alot, likes to be organised and in control and most importantly is trying to find out everything she possibly can about Aspergers and tries to help and support her son in ever way possible, (You just have to watch the Halloween episode, when they go trick or treating to know that), although at times is a little OCD about it and OTT.
Anyhow, I can see alot of myself in her character and it’s a show that I just absolutely love. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry and sometimes it really makes me think!
In last week’s episode Max started mainstream school and Kristina was beside herself with worry. She was so concerned that she actually went to the school during recess and watched him sitting by himself whilst the other kids played around him. My heart just completely went to pieces at that point. Most of you will know that J’s experience at school so far hasn’t been a good one but we’ve persisted and stuck it out all year, rather than moving schools and then moving him again when we move. He doesn’t cope well with change and we kept telling ourselves, “he’s learning social skills”, “he’s learning how to make friends”, “he gets to play with other kids his age” and such like. Right up until that episode of Parenthood, that’s what I’ve been telling myself……………….. then I watched Kristina as she watched Max and then spoke with his teacher and realised, Kristina is me and Max is J and at that moment I knew exactly how her character felt.
The scenes from that episode have been playing over and over in my mind, what if that was J, sitting there all alone, not interacting with the other kids, not running around with them having fun, not joining in………….what if?
Then my fears were confirmed, by strange coincidence we had J’s PLP (IEP) meeting this week. All of his past teachers this year, who quite obviously haven’t paid very much attention to J have told us time and time again that he’s very popular, he plays well with others and so on. This week we discovered that those, I’m sure well meaning, teachers had simply been telling us what they thought we wanted to hear. His teacher this term has also spent time in the classroom on several occasions over the last year and she informed us that academically he’s fabulous (no surprises there but it was nice to hear) but she told us that she is concerned about his social skills or lack of them. He has made huge progress over the past 18 months. 18 Months ago he would sit at the back of the room rather than with the other children at carpet time whilst at daycare. Whilst there he would also stand back and watch the other children, rather than join in or be in amongst the action. He’s now quite happy to play by himself or with his best friend (also an Aspie) in the sand whilst the other children play around him, so although he’s playing by himself he’s amongst the action………….does that make sense? His teacher and the HOSE informed us that they’re concerned because he hasn’t moved on any further, it’s almost a though he wants to join in but doesn’t know how to. He doesn’t ask the other kids to play, nor does he ask to join the other children in their games. He has limited interaction with the other children that isn’t instructed or negotiated by an adult and they’re concerned. They’ve put into his plan that this is an area that needs to be worked on.
My concern is, what if this is it? what if this is as good as his social skills are going to get? What if he ends up being that kid who sits alone at recess/lunch because he doesn’t know how to be around the other kids? and a big concern for me is how is all of this affecting his emotional well being?