Parenting a child with autism plus a child going through the terrible threes comes with a specific set of skills. I feel like I’ve got to have my crap together pretty much 24/7 around here and let’s be honest, that’s just not possible. My husband often feels that I’m more capable with Squeaker because I teach special education and I’ve done all of the research, and perhaps I do know more strategies. He also feels that when it comes to the meetings and speaking with the school system, I’m the official in this household on making sure our son’s needs get met, and perhaps my knowledge of the lingo, the rules, and our rights as parents means that I do need to take the lead in the meetings when advocating for our child. But none of this discounts his role as a parent or his strengths in these situations.
In the past 48 hours, I’ve come to realize that my husband has his own responsibilities during these important times in my son’s life. He may not know exactly what it means when the Psychologist starts talking about Broad Reading scores or Conceptual Domains. He may not understand immediately how to analyze a test that my son took and see that the school was, in fact, wrong. He knew what was going on in the problem and that the numbers were going down. He demonstrated that in his answer, but wrote the wrong symbol. His answer was off by one. No, he may not get all of that information. He’s got me for that. My husband stays the course and keeps me sane during these times. He calls more professionals if we need them. He talks to me late at night and tells me that I can, in fact, do this, because I have to. He asks me insane questions like, “If we go in there and she says ‘we will be keeping your son in the 1st grade and we don’t care what you think,’ what will our next step be? Do you plan to just give up?” In reality, I don’t anticipate that ever happening. I am certain that we will have a reasonable conversation. But no, I cannot give up. When advocating for our child, I don’t hold back. I strongly believe in doing what’s right for all children, and I most definitely won’t let my child go by the wayside.
I’ve already begun the process of getting things set up to get my son extra help over the summer to address the concerns they have for his academics. He’s already getting extra support that we pay out of pocket for OT. He’s already going to two camps this summer that will help with social skills, even more with OT, even more with routine and independence, and if they will give me some other things to work on with him, I’ll do that with him as well. I’m going to look up the library schedule and plan times to take him to the library for activities there. He will have very little idle time this summer. He will learn and grow and come into the SECOND GRADE more prepared academically than half of the students they have coming in, with the exception, I’m sure, of his writing skills, which we will always have a delay in, as that is the nature of Autism in his case.
My husband, thankfully, doesn’t fuss about money when it comes to our children and getting what they need. We will live like paupers if we need to. Everything else will get cut back in order to pay for the extra support for him. And most likely that’s what it will take because tutoring is expensive. We’re already paying $75 per week for the day camp. We’re already paying over $600 for the week of overnight camp (and it’s only that little because of the support of people who helped us fund it). We’re paying $200 a month for OT, roughly. The tutoring with the lady we worked with before was $50 per session. Unless we can find someone cheaper, we’ll have to shell that out again. Plus daycare for the little one so that I can drive my son around to everywhere he needs to go without sacrificing play time for him. But we do what we have to do to take care of our children and hope that the school will see that holding him in the 1st grade for functional reasons doesn’t really help him.
I’m just thankful that my husband and I come together as a united front on this issue and know how to speak intelligently to support our son’s needs. I’m thankful that we have the resources to help him. I’m hopeful that we will get what we need from the school, because they have, in previous meetings, come together wonderfully to provide for him and shown that they truly do care about him. I know that they want what’s best for him. I just hope that after actually listening to us, as educated, resourceful, parents of a child that we’ve known for almost 8 years now, they will realize that we do know what’s best for our child.