Judgement Not Welcome Here

512px-WGHardingRecently, I posted about a couple of my friends whose marriages have faltered.  Then I was notified about a couple of comments on the post, comments that were rather judgemental of my friends.  I know this person who commented may not realize how preachy her comments sounded, but they were unwarranted, and rather unwelcome.

Those of you who have gone through divorce can probably guess what they said, verbatim, because it’s just what a person in their situation does not need to hear.  The I-hope-you’ve-really-thought-about-this, and you-have-no-idea-how-this-is-going-to-impact-your-kids kind of crap that I heard, too.

First of all, there are enough single-parent households out there nowadays to prove that the world doesn’t end with a divorce.  Plenty of kids not only survive but thrive in a single-parent household.  This notion that a home without two parents is somehow “broken” is positively ludicrous, and needs to be sent packing, back to the Victorian age from whence it came.  My son has thrived since the ex left our home.  The idea that “staying in it for the kids” is better somehow, as if children aren’t negatively impacted by two parents who fight constantly, don’t ever speak to each other, do not show any sign of affection to each other, or contribute to an ever-present tension in the house is just plain wrong.

Second, I dare say that the great majority of people who decide on divorce did not make the decision lightly.  If you think that’s the case, you’ve been watching too much “reality” TV.  Divorce is a heart-rending, soul-breaking decision to make.  And there is enough hurt, guilt and anger in that decision already without having to also be judged by society at large.

Third, just like the old saying, “If you’ve met one kid with autism, you’ve met one kid with autism,” no two marriages are alike.  No one knows what goes on inside of a marriage except for the two people in it.  They may be over-sharers, but the outsiders are only getting one side of the story, and therefore no one really knows.  When I got divorced, my ex mother-in-law actually sent me a letter saying that they “never saw it coming.”  A perfect example, as the ex and I had both been miserable for the previous six years.  The two friends I wrote about?  I never claimed to know what caused either breakup, because I don’t know.  I even said that I didn’t think the autism, either father’s undiagnosed nor the son’s caused it, although dealing with autism in the household can strain any marriage.  My friend has never once said anything about it, and is not using it for “justification” of anything.

So why don’t we listen to the old advice, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it?”  Why do people insist on getting behind a keyboard to say things to people they would never say in real life?

Judging someone for their divorce is a big no-no in my book.  It makes one look small, and your unwanted “advice” only hurts.  I choose instead to support people whom I trust to make smart decisions and weigh all their options.  Being a parent to a child with autism has taught me that life is hard enough without having to worry about how others will judge you.  You lose nothing by supporting others in their personal struggles.

Meet The Boy

In light of recent comments, I thought it might be time to do a post that re-introduces The Boy and his issues to this audience.  The Boy was diagnosed with classic autism at the age of five.  Although he has a fairly high IQ, and is a generally bright boy, he was not diagnosed with Asperger’s because he did have developmental delays, and was in speech and occupational therapy starting at the age of two.  He has since “graduated” from OT, and now has speech therapy in the form of working on pragmatic social skills once a week with the speech therapist at school.

In his new school, the pilot program for which we switched schools has organizational periods for the kids on the spectrum at the beginning and end of the day.  They meet with the autism teacher and aides who help them get organized for the day in the morning, and help them get organized before they head home.  He also has a social skills class with his autism teacher.  Ideally, he would be interacting with other 6th graders on the spectrum, but he is the only 6th grader in the program, currently, so they spend some time on social skills, and some time on homework and organizational skills during this period.  He is also allowed to eat his lunch in his autism teacher’s room.  This is his safe haven.

The Boy has issues with executive functioning, verbalizing his needs (as well as verbalizing anything having to do with school, like assignments and tests), and gets overwhelmed by his senses at times.  He has issues with processing speed, and can get overwhelmed with assignments that require a lot of writing.  He has the requisite deficits in social and organizational skills, as well.

Per his IEP, he is to receive extended time on assignments and tests, sensory breaks as needed, modified assignments and tests, use of graphic organizers, testing in small groups in a separate setting, use of a word processor, and use of visual work systems (visual cards that will cue him as to what to do next, and when the next break is) in all classes.

His teachers do not send home much homework, which helps us, because like most kids with autism, he has a very great antipathy for it.  Logically, schoolwork should be done at school, rather than at home, and it just doesn’t make sense to him to have to do work at home.  When we do have homework, we break it into chunks that we can do from 15-30 minutes at a time, and then we take a break, sometimes with an incentive (m&ms work wonders), before we get back to work again.

Most of the teachers at his new school get it.  They are willing to teach him according to how he learns.  They are patient and understanding, and willing to listen to suggestions.  We are very lucky, and I am so glad I was able to work so hard to get him placed in this school.  It has meant a world of difference to The Boy.  He is happier, I think, because he is more understood.

I communicate with his teachers as needed, and never too much.  I do not get in their faces when there is an issue.  I offer suggestions when they are asked for.  I work with my son on his schoolwork and practicing whenever he has it.

My son has special needs.  My son has rights.  My son has patient and understanding teachers (mostly).  My son has me.

Winter at the Beach