Yesterday was our annual foray into parent-teacher conferences. Usually these don’t stress me out- I know my kids aren’t perfect, I don’t expect perfection, and I have my hands on the pulse of their lives enough to know how they’re doing. We go so I can see what they’ve made and they can show me what they’re excited about. I had them scheduled back to back to back. In what I assumed was brilliance, Bean was first, then Jeffrey and wrapping up with Abby.
I know what you’re thinking- but Bean’s went well. He’s made some terrific gains socially, which has always been the stumbling block, and his coping skills are gaining. He’s acing math and science, and while reading is still very difficult for him (might always be) he’s doing well. He even demonstrates, with help from his teacher, that he can now tie his shoes himself. A benchmark of a day for him.
We bid his teacher adios, and make our way to Jeff’s classroom. Sitting on the too-small chairs around the circular table, Jeffrey’s new teacher begins to tell me how he’s doing. But in the background, I cannot help but hear Bean starting to grunt and honk softly, as he attempts to try and tie his shoes. It’s escalating, as he becomes frustrated. He knows he can do it, but without his teacher’s prompts, he is unable to make his fingers go int he right order to make the sweet little taut bow. I am trying to pay attention to Jeffrey’s teacher, but I know if I don’t nip this in the bud, he’s going to start honking loudly.
The teacher tells me it’s important to focus on Jeffrey, that she’s had autistic kids in her class before, and she continues to talk. I can see Bean getting more and more riled, and mercifully, his OT pops in the room and offers to take him to her office while I finish my conference with Jeffrey. I feel like there are shards of glass in my mouth as I sit in silence.
The teacher asks me to leave her with just Jeffrey for a moment, and while this seems odd, I know I have to find Bean. He is in the OT’s therapy room, in a swivel chair, holding a therapy ball, but is still clearly distressed and vocalizing. When I inform him its time for us to go get Abby, he freaks out, throws the ball, and runs from the room honking and screaming. (all because I didn’t stop it when I had the chance)
In a nutshell: I missed Abby’s conference, a teacher reminded me that my other children need my attention too (really? really?!) and it took the principal, another male teacher, the OT and me to finally restrain and carry Bean to the car, wailing and screaming and kicking and clawing the whole way.
As pissed as the other teacher made me, the OT has my thanks in equal measure. She noted how long its been since Bean had an episode like this, and she called both Jeffrey and Abby in for a session with her so they could talk about how they felt and how having a brother with autism effects them and their family. Bean spent the day working with her, and his regular-ed teacher welcomed him back in the classroom with a smile.
How many ways can I succeed and fail in one day? I guess it depends on where you’re standing.