I came up with this tagline the other day as I was speaking with my 11 year old son’s principal. You see, my son has Aspergers and he is an incredible challenge to teach. He’s ridiculously smart, but so resistant and intolerant of doing anything outside of what he either “finds interesting” or “finds tolerable.” He reads incredibly fast, in fact he’s been reading since he was 21 months old. Actually read words to me before he even spoke. Ever since, he’s devoured books and weekly we travel to all the libraries around Nassau County and take out about 20 books a week on whichever topic he finds compelling. This week he’s breezed through Oliver Sack’s books THE MIND’S EYE, THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT and he’s in the middle of HALLUCINATIONS. His “interest of the week” is perception and how the mind can play tricks on you. Of course last week it was graphic novels, the week before that it was space, pokemon and World Records. It changes and we’re trying not to get whiplash the way he switches it up so much.
So what’s the challenge? Presently, his feelings about school, and particular, the reading lessons. He’s read the chapter book his teacher is going over in class already while the class as a whole is slowly answering questions, chapter by chapter and he’s becoming resentful of having to sit there and listen to it. He tells them he’s bored and I don’t understand why they can’t have him do the curriculum required at his pace and then give him something more challenging. That was the crux of the conversation with the principal, who agrees with me. The trick is, what if they give Ben something more challenging and he decides it’s not “of interest to him?” That could easily happen.
Growing up he was always so ahead of his peers that school was easy. He breezed right through into 4th grade without doing much of anything. We were never concerned cognitively and used school as a place for him to socialize and if he wasn’t challenged enough, we spent our weekends at every museum, bookstore and library we could hit. But then he entered 4th grade and things started to go downhill. More was being asked of him, some of the kids were catching up, and for the first time he had a teacher that wasn’t a good match. Needless to say, it was a horror of a year and I’m going to leave it at that – I’d need another post just to rant incessantly and I’m too exhausted to do that right now. Suffice it to say, we moved him out of district to a different school with only 9 kids to a class. You’d think that would be perfect, but it has its own challenges. We have lovely teachers and aides who work with him, but in a school with kids who ALL have needs, the peer modeling isn’t the greatest and they don’t offer the same challenging classes his twin sister is getting back in his own district.
So, where are we? The principal is going to explore the opportunity for him to “travel” in certain subjects to different classrooms, maybe those in a different grade level, and see if that works. Or, they’re going to do some modifications on what he is learning. Fingers crossed it’s sooner versus later. Already at home we have private Spanish Classes (since his school doesn’t offer it).
In the meantime Ben has come up with an alternate theory about the universe. He’s called it “The Salpeter Theory of Consistency.” I’ve got calls in to the local school’s physics teachers to see if they can help us with “formulating a paper” for this theory so Ben can submit it. I told him we’ll work on it together and he has to prove his theories, we’ll research and all that good stuff. He is completely on board.
Lucky for me I have a kid like this. I don’t think otherwise I’d ever know so much about Schrodinger’s Cat theory, the concept of Visual Agnosia (which is the inability of the brain to recognize or understand visual stimuli), and that preon is now one of the smallest particles out there (u-surping the mighty quark)
So like I said in the title… if I could take that shotglass of tolerance he has… and just stretch it to a tumbler or a high ball, or even a mightly ice bucket, the world will be this kid’s oyster!
Thanks for the ear and taking the time to read. Have an awesome day. 🙂