Today is Sweet M's parent-teacher conference. I've been reviewing her report card in advance of the meeting, trying to decode the document and figure out what I should be pushing for and what I should be doing at home.
These report cards aren't like any that I received in school . . . they're 25-30 pages long, with detailed reporting on various subskills. So, for example, a writing skill like "Uses capitalization appropriately" is noted as "emerging," "developing," or "mastered." Behavioral issues, such as "Listens and respects others' points of view" are recorded as "needs improvement," "consistent progress," or "excellent."
But the funniest things in this report card is from the health class. One of the skills in that reports is "Can discuss the importance of handwashing." It is one of two skills the section that she has been marked as "mastered."
Ask an OCD kid to discuss the importance of handwashing and you can almost cut right through the language disorder.
At the conference on teaching Aspie kids that I went to two weeks back, Valerie Paradiz talked about building on Aspie kids' preoccupations as a way of extending learning: use what they love as point of departure for other learning. So a child who is preoccupied with maps becomes an expert on all kinds of geographical information, not just place names. And a girl who is hyperfocused on hamsters develops an experiment with her hamster family.
This suggests something that I've always loved in the philosophy of Georg Simmel: that if you look at any particular thing closely enough, thoughtfully enough, patiently enough, that you can unfold the secrets of almost anything. That goes for our autie kids too.
from Georg Simmel, The Philosophy of Money, page 55
Now off to the parent-teacher conference. I'll let you know how it goes.
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • special education