Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Wrong Lenses

“Lately all I see of William is what he can’t do.  The work that is coming home from school is largely above his level. Orchestra is too hard.  Reading is too hard.  In Social Studies they are learning concepts like “cultural landscape”. In sixth grade.  I don’t know how non-autistic kids are doing it. Yet I know they are.  

And he’s not.

Every day I am reminded more and more of how he’s not doing it.  Until I see him only for what he isn’t and not for what he is.  Only what he can’t do and not what he can.”

That is the beginning of a post I started a couple of weeks ago but didn’t finish because it was too depressing.  

This happens sometimes – I see William only for what he doesn’t seem capable of.  Which is a terrible way for his mother, being chief cheerleader and advocate, to feel. 

I lose the perspective of "person first" language. This is the concept where instead of an “autistic child” you have a “child with autism”.  

It seems a lens of worry and uncertainty clouds my vision during those times, only letting in the disability and not the abilities, even though I know deep down that there is more William can do than he can’t do. 

Then last week, when I was still feeling pretty low, William’s principal left me a message.  Of course, when I saw the caller ID from school I prepared myself for the worst, but instead I got to hear how my son was seen through her eyes:

“Mrs. Nisi, this is William’s principal.  I just had to call you to let you know that William and I spoke today, and he is just so personable!  He made sure he knew who I was, and made sure I knew who he was.  I wanted to let you know this because I read your blog about sending him here, and I just want you not to worry, and to know that William is taking care of business at this school!’

So, a different set of eyes, a different lens, and William became more than the autistic child having trouble keeping up, he became a child with autism who is taking care of business!

1 comment:

  1. First off, you'll always be harder on yourself than anyone else. You do an amazing job advocating for William, letting William be William, and helping William to be a little less William when it would make life better for him. The principal was awesome to call and let you know this - he has one hell of a personality and tremendous staying power too. This will take him places someday.

    Hard as it is, keep in mind that the only true yard stick measuring William's success is the one that you set up for him and with him. Just because he co-exists in the same world as as all these neuro-typical kids doesn't mean he needs to be running in the same race(s). He can be running in his own lane, running his own race, trying for his own personal best and succeeding in his own way. And his lane, by the way is an open sided lane - he can cross into the other lanes from time to time, invite people into his, whatever. Knowing William, running his own race will not be isolating. And knowing what personal bests he is trying to achieve will ultimately make him a winner.

    Anytime you want to talk over a glass of wine (or a bottle of vodka?), I am there for you!