Picking up Race Car man after school a few weeks ago, I chit-chatted with his teacher. I really adore her, she is so invested in her students and in helping them learn the skills they need to succeed. I had to disagree with her on one point though: my son is not "finally reading at grade level."
I suppose technically it is considered to be at grade level if you can correctly read a story and answer questions about what the characters felt and thought. Kids with autism, though, have difficulty with the structure of interpersonal relationships and understanding the thinking of neurotypicals. It is human nature to assume everyone thinks the same way you do, and my son is no exception.
No one seems to get it: My son is NOT a first grader. My son is a 40 year old nuclear scientist in a miniature body.
On a recent trip to Idaho for Bill & Angie's wedding, he stole my phone and wandered around taking pictures. I found him taking pictures of his Skylanders, and he clearly was fascinated by the play of light and color and the reflection of the translucent green plastic under the toys, because look at these:
He's got such a unique way of looking at things -- even toys.
He surprised me a few weeks ago. My daughter loves to dress up. The hardest thing about shopping with her is that she likes every pretty dress that she tries on and wants me to buy them all. That and she always wants the sparkly ruffly dress that's really the most suited for a Christmas Recital even when the occasion we are dressing for is Easter or an outdoor summer wedding.
I took both the kids shopping for new outfits to wear to my new nephew-in-law's wedding Memorial Day weekend. Amazon Girl's choice of dress was spectacular, but I really did expect resistance from Race Car Man when it came to picking out something appropriate.
We walked into the boy's section at Penney's and I started to steer him toward the khaki shorts and polo shirts. He caught sight of the boys' suit section and it was GAME OVER. From the minute he saw the shirt/vest/tie/pant combination, he was interested in nothing else. Wouldn't try on anything else. It was that or nothing. So of course, we got him the suit.
Tell me he doesn't look a little bit like a miniature Darren from Bewitched:
No outfit is complete without your Batman lunchbox.
And my personal favorite: PHOTOBOMB!!
I suppose there is some level of competitiveness even within special needs parenting. Of course I want my son to read at grade level. Everything that he accomplishes that helps him navigate his way through life is wonderful. But I guess there's a part of me that wants everyone to see the things I see in my children, to look at them through the incredibly loving and terribly biased eyes of a mom. Yes, he can read "Dick and Jane" at grade level. But he reads the instructions for my lawn mower like a SUPERSTAR.