I let fear rule me with my middle daughters. I didn’t feel it was safe to send them to our neighborhood middle school so I kept them here, with me, homeschooling. They both did well and started back in public school in high school, ready to go without what seems to be the requisite junior high angst.
The last few days I have seen a huge shift in Samuel and it isn’t angst at all, it is wonder.
Samuel has high functioning autism. He appears and acts, primarily, like any other twelve-year-old boy.
Then something happens that makes people say, “Hmmmm?”
Like when he accompanied me to an appointment with my surgeon yesterday.
The nurse asked me for the date of my last menstrual cycle. Samuel said, “I know what that means. That means when blood and tissue flow from the (and then he used the proper scientific name for that part of the female anatomy.)” Given that he and I had never discussed this at length, this openness surprised me. The nurse sat in her seat, listening. I continued. “Yes, and when I was pregnant with you, I didn’t have a menstrual period.” To which he responded, “That’s why the menstrual period comes, when there isn’t a pregnancy, the blood and tissue isn’t needed.”
In the past, Samuel would have sat in the waiting room with his 3DS XL.
Yesterday, he was right in there – chatting with the nurse and with my surgeon when he arrived.
His curiosity flowed. He made some friends. It was odd and it was fine that it was odd.
He has never been much of a storyteller, though he comes from a family of storytellers.
Yesterday he came home excitedly to tell about an incident on the bus ride.
In the past years, I have driven him because of some bullying problems he had in fourth grade.
This year his school is farther away and I have to take Emma to her school because of her interdistrict transfer.
He wasn’t very happy about taking the bus at first but now, it is enjoyable for him. Plus he gets to experience some interesting stories on the daily journey. Apparently his bus encountered a person who was probably on his own, unique journey and felt like throwing things at his bus.
First he told me the story, then when I called a dear friend on my “when you are in the car everyone is a part of the conversation” cell phone, Samuel told the story again. When we picked up Emma from her rehearsal for The Importance of Being Earnest he gave another full accounting to his sister.
She said this morning, “Samuel has been so fun lately!”
Something great is happening at middle school for him.
He is achieving, he is growing and yes, he is starting to make more friends.
For the first time in years, I am not afraid during school hours when my phone rings.
This is an enormous shift and a delightful development for me as well as for Samuel.
The word “gratitude” is huge and it doesn’t even begin to hold what I feel.
Exponential gratitude, perhaps.
Today on my to-do list I have a “call the transportation department” to get their version of the incident and then perhaps, if appropriate, call the news. Samuel has had a goal of being on the television news. Sounds like a human interest story. What does the school district do to make Middle School so much better for students with autism that an event that would once be incredibly scary in the past is now a learning opportunity?
Something is happening that is right this year for Samuel’s educational experience.
I feel enormously blessed.
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Julie Jordan Scott is a writer, performance poet, Mommy and mixed-media artist. Her word-love themed art will be for sale at First Friday each month in Downtown Bakersfield. Check out the links below to follow her on a bunch of different social media channels, especially if you find the idea of a Word-Love Party bus particularly enticing.
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