Our run in mainstreamed public middle school up until now hasn’t been what you would call… how you say… good. First it was overstimulated and overwhelmed then it was home work getting the best of us with a little bit of ‘I don’t wanna do this work because it’s eating into my free time’. We have supported, punished, stayed on top of, & more. Nothing has really solved our problems. I’m not saying I thought it would all be smooth sailing but I am saying I had a false sense of how good I was at dealing with all this.
When I worked in EMS on an ambulance and we would have what was affectionately called a ‘Come To Jesus Meeting’. These aren’t religious talks at all. Kids from the south know what I’m talking about, if mom says she’s going to give you a come to Jesus meeting it is a lot like an attitude adjustment. They could range from a sympathetic ear to a confrontational soapbox speech depending on what the person needed. After realizing my bag of parenting tricks was not only empty but it was inside out with a hole in it we figured we would try something new. Trust.
When I picked him up from school, just the two of us, we talked about responsibilities & what they mean. We have these talks all the time but this time I tried to concentrate on my responsibilities & what the cause & effect was of me living up to them. Decide to work today like I’m supposed to equals money equals more income for the family equals the ability to vacation, buy video games, etc. After that I spun it in his situation as school work is done on time & turned in equals trust equals more adult like treatment. He was very receptive to this & after explaining that if I could trust that he did the right thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing then that would equal adult treatment such as a cell phone & having a cell phone would equal the ability to venture on his own at times when the family is at the store & he wants to go look at electronics or something to that effect. (I’ve been fighting this thought in my head but I’ve also been encouraged by the fact that he at least wants to get out of the house & go places – small victories!) Just thought I would mention that since we are so close & sometimes he, I think, even blurs the line between us being best friends & father son (until something goes wrong & discipline is delved out anyway) I also put it out there to him that I wasn’t upset or mad at him but I was disappointed in the way he was letting me down by not trying harder to do what was expected of him. How he was being selfish & not thinking of how his actions at school effected his whole family. I wasn’t sure if that was in vain or not but I threw it in none the less.
This went really well but I’ve thought that before & have been slapped in the face by reality. A couple of days ago he brought home his progress report & much to my surprise from the day we talked he had turned in all of his assignments & got great grades on them. While talking to my wife she said something to the effect of ‘It seems like you have been doing a lot better lately’ & he replied ‘I’ve been doing what we talked about & I’m in a much better place at school’ (heart swelling… ego growing… Parenting LEVEL UP!)
Needless to say:
We started him off with a pre-paid Trecfone to be safe & leave room for improvement. Not only is it an instant gratification because it wasn’t a situation where, like in the past, he has had to stay golden for an extended period of time but now that he has it he is excited about it. Excited not just about the phone but we talked about how this phone just does talk & text so if the good behavior continues, the expectations are continually met, & get even been then so does his adult like responsibilities. Translation in to dad terms: keep doing good & we can maybe upgrade to a smart phone or do bad & I have something to take away as a punishment.
We will see! I’m sure all of you with kids on the high functioning end of the spectrum have been in this same place; feeling great about a parenting win like your on fire & then here in a week it will all come crashing down but HEY! If I’ve learned anything from autism parenting it’s that I’m gonna sure as heck enjoy the first week of that parenting win feeling for now & we will cross that sky is falling bridge when we get there! 🙂