Tyler’s first quarter at Pieceful Solutions ended at the end of September. I was invited to come in for a parent-teacher conference, and I must confess that I was very nervous about what I might hear from the teachers. I knew that Tyler’s time with Pieceful Solutions had been deemed successful from our stand-point, but, truthfully, I was very afraid that I was going to hear stories about disobedience, defiance, and refusal to do schoolwork (after all, I homeschooled him for three years. I have experience!)
I don’t know if I can truly describe for you want an emotional experience that the parent-teacher conference was. I cried twice. Not with frustration, but with joy. Yes, we all acknowledged that Tyler can be difficult, but the amazingly positive things that they shared with me where so overwhelming.
The Language Arts Teacher, Miss Tasha, shared that Tyler is a wonderful writer. Really??? I couldn’t get him to write two sentences for me on anything other than Binga and Toad. She said he’s a wonderful, imaginative writer with solid paragraph structure, and she actually wants Tyler to write a class blog! And last week the students had to write an opinion piece; Tyler received the only 100% in the class.
The Reading Teacher, Miss Sue, shared that she is amazed with Tyler’s reading comprehension. She pointed out that there was a point about the book they were reading that she had tried to hammer into the students, but Tyler was one of only two students who got the point and remembered it for the test. She was very impressed with the fact that Tyler had liked the book so much that he requested I get it for him and he read it in one day.
The Math Teacher, Miss Diane, who is also Tyler’s Homeroom teacher, had similar positive things to say about Tyler’s math abilities. They also praised him in Science and Social Studies.
We then talked about his behavior. They said that they had noticed when he went in for placement testing that he had some behavior issues, so they cracked down on him from the very beginning. It was rough for them, for him, and even for me, but he had to see that others didn’t behave the way he was behaving. His behavior has improved so much, overall, and he is getting lots more “yeses” than “nos”.
The teachers showed me a chart that Tyler had filled out. The chart listed goals and Tyler was asked to rate himself , coloring different colors for mastery, doing good, or needing improvement. There was a good balance on the chart and the teachers said that they felt he was humble in his scoring of himself. I cried for two reasons: one, because self-awareness is hard for a typical person, must more so for an autistic child, and two, while he was humble with his scoring, he didn’t score himself as awful in everything either. I felt like he demonstrated a healthy self-awareness and self-esteem level, which is so important
The other thing that made me cry was their praise of me. I heard them say to me that I did a good job teaching him, helping him, being a support to him. I think every parent has feelings of failure, feelings where they wonder why on earth their child is acting this way, why their discipline is not working, why this child will not do xyz. I will go out on a limb and say the feelings are even more pronounced when you have a special needs child, such as autism. Their behavior can be so difficult to manage you just feel like you’re constantly in a battle with no success and no end in sight. It’s not until someone on the outside can look and see the difference that you see how far you’ve come and how your hard work really is paying off. And those moments when they say “Mom, you’re doing a good job” are the moments that give you the strength to keep going. That’s what the teachers gave to me that day.
They also told me that Tyler was proud of me and bragged to everyone that I got a job J
And I was diligent to lavish my praise on these hard-working teachers. I do not know how they can work with these children day after day. It truly takes a special person and these ladies and men are amazing. They have made such a positive difference in Tyler’s life.
Tyler has friends. We went to the Arizona Science Center with a classmate and his mom during Fall Break and that young man called Tyler his best friend. I was shocked. Tyler’s always talking about this kid and that kid. He loves school, and while he enjoys that occasional day off, he craves the structure, routine, and experience of going to school.
A couple of weeks ago Tyler and Jim went on a father-son campout at the school. Jim said that Tyler found a boy from his campus and hung out with him.
I love seeing Tyler happy. I have to reminder myself that this a process, but so far, I call the process a complete success!