It’s been a while between posts but as we are pretty much snowed in today I thought I would take a second to update. We got a call last week from the middle school letting me know there was a problem but they couldn’t really give a lot of details but told me the principal would be contacting me shortly to go over what happened. Well, I’m not really a ‘wait for a phone call’ kind of parent so I headed up to the school for an in person meeting. I quickly found out that he was playing, acting like a robot, & some kids that were in the same area didn’t like it so one of them grabbed him by the hood of the jacket throwing him to the ground. My son hit his head on the ground but the school said he seemed okay so they sent him back to class. When I got into the principles office I was told that they were pretty sure my son & the kids he was playing with were playing this ‘game’ in the area of the other kids to ‘annoy’ them. I was told at that time that he was just shoved down to the ground & hit his head, only getting the full story later. I know this all sounds bad & that I should be super upset that this kid did it but when talking to the school I was told the offending kid is a good kid & the principle knows his family… yeah… I feel so much better now! So all is forgiven because the kids parents are friends with the staff? They were quick to let me know that my son got up from the ground & told the bully ‘F#@k You!” Was I surprised that my autistic angel knew this word that his dad has never used before!?! 🙂 YES, I don’t know wheeeerrrreeee he would have heard that word! But on the same page, you throw me down & I slam my head against the ground I’m probably going to give you a few choice words as well. Do I condone him talking like that, no. Did I have a talk with him about it, yes. Am I going to bust his chops over it, no way! Honestly I’m more stoked that he used it in the right context 🙂 Autism Win! (Shhhhh don’t tell anyone I said that!)
So let me get this all lined out; My son was playing, another kid came up behind him because the fact that my sons was playing a game in his vicinity was annoying & grabbed him by the hood of his coat throwing him down on the ground & hitting his head on the ground, & I’m told my son said a bad word & the other kid is a good kid from a good family! Just another example of solid logic used by our public school system here in progressive Oklahoma. So frustrating!
Crazy days but all will even out. I think things are getting back to normal. Thankfully right after that incident was his 12th birthday so we gave him the option a party of a day where we did what ever he wanted to do. He wanted to go eat at his favorite restaurant & go buy him a new keyboard. He really wanted one that would sample, loop, & allow him to compose his own music. Some of his music is getting really good, most days you can find him in his room writing music notes in his notebook. I thought it was strange that he wanted to go to a super authentic
mexican restaurant for his birthday since he will not eat it but we sat down & he ordered chicken strips with french fries. Hey, what ever he wants! The staff heard us talking about his birthday, they brought out their sombrero for him & sang. He was so excited.
A look back at him growing up…ouch! How did we get so old!
My parents never understood! They didn’t understand my music, the way I dressed, ANYTHING! I won’t mention the fact that I listened to punk rock, wore two different color chuck taylor converse, & mostly sported old man plaid pants I bought at Good Will! STILL they didn’t get it! But you know what I’m finding now that I’m a parent; now I don’t get it! I feel like I get more than my parents did. I get adventure time, I get minecraft, I REALLY get Gravity Falls, I get Doctor Who & I feel like I get autism! (not like I GET autism… ‘I’m feelin’ strange, I think I may be getting autism’ not like that!) I DON’T get so much more than that though. I don’t get:
Milestone – I don’t want to talk about the birds & the bees let alone know WHEN to. Can’t Google be the parent on this one!?!
Friends – I want the kids to have friends but at the same time they have brothers & I can control those…yeah, I’m overprotective!
Middle School – It has to be the 7th circle of hell! The kids are massive, the teachers are scowling, & the hormones are running.
PTA – I know it’s for the kids but I don’t want to be the chairmen of the board in charge of how many ply toilet paper is in the girls bathroom in hall #4 & I definitely don’t want to be the one sitting at the door of the fall carnival trying to keep a straight face explaining to people why it’s $4 a kid for a half a glass of powdered lemonade & one slice of a $5 pizza from Little Caesars!
Douche bag dads! – Pardon the crass language but their shirts are tight, their music is cranked up in the car line, & they have that Top Gun Val Kilmer look on their face! WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS? The parents think your annoying & the kids are laughing at you.
I guess all things come with time & as we come to a new bridge we will either cross it or burn it! Either way as long as we stick together it will be okay but MAN is it scary! In my last post I talked about my son being bullied. I was crazy mad & confused as to what to do! Then I got a phone call:
Mr Hibben, this is your sons middle school. There has been an incident that we need you to help us address with your son.
I’m in full attack mode, WHAT HAPPENED NOW! Come to find our my tables had been turned. In his favorite class, science, they were preparing to do a project. This is live heaven to him because any thing science related falls under our special interest. The class was loud & wouldn’t stop their talking so the teacher, after giving the class as a whole a warning she told them they would not be doing the project because of their disobedience. My son was crushed & upset so he apparently walked up to the kid in class that was talking the most (in his mind because he was the biggest culprit he was the main cause) & he kicked him in the leg. Thankfully the kid went & told the teacher instead of beating the crap out of my son. After all the over stimulation & emotions running wild he waited in the councilors & fell asleep. He hardly touched the kid thankfully but so far out of the lines of whats okay & what’s been instilled in him. It completely turned everything around. He understood what he did was wrong & after a long danny tanner talk we headed home, I’m very happy that if this had to happen at least we didn’t have many more schools days till winter break! We had some talks, reworked though the situation as to how we should have handled it, & went back to school with a “hopefully” heartfelt apology to the boy who was kicked.
I feel like I’m a pretty sharp guy. I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job. I feel like I can spot a problem on the horizon or trouble looming up ahead but at times like these you are reminded that just because you think you have a good idea of whats up ahead always be ready for anything! I should really start a parenting boot camp for newly diagnosed parents but lets just be honest we would probably overwhelm them & end up polishing off to many bottles of wine to be helpful! 🙂
Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, & a great New Year!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… but mainly it was the most frustrating of times.
If you have read past blog posts you know that we had an unfortunate incident with a lunchbox a month or so ago that involved someone taking his lunchbox, shoving it in the toilet, & trying to flush it down. Don’t worry… the school assured me it wasn’t bullying, it was an isolated incident that was a crime of opportunity not targeting my son. Okay, I’ll buy that. You can read that post here. I ordered him a metal Dr. Who lunchbox to smooth life out & all was kosher.
A few weeks ago I got a call from the school counselor letting me know that while he was using the restroom he sat his bag & new ($30) Dr Who lunchbox down in the breeze way only to find that it had been stomped in when he came back out. They school bent it back as best they could & he was okay. When I got the call from the counselor letting me know I was so relived to hear that the school is sure that this was an isolated incident that was a crime of opportunity not targeting my son.
Flash forward a week or so. I picked him up from school right before Thanksgiving break & on the ride home he told me about his horrible day. He was headed to the restroom & put his lunchbox on a desk by one of his teachers room that is next to the rest room. This is what the school had told him to do instead of leaving it where all the kids leave theirs to make sure no other “Crimes of opportunity” happened. So this time someone went to the teachers door, got the Dr Who lunchbox & gave it another good stomping. I didn’t get a call this time because I’m not even sure if he bothered telling anyone because they have proved that nothing will happen. So as I kept my cool while hearing him tell me about how his most prized possession would no longer hardly latch I realized that, much like my respect for the public school system, advocacy at Shawnee Middle School is dead & gone. I calmly called the school that day to speak with his principal to see what was going on & why this was happening without anyone stepping up to help. I got his voicemail, I left a voicemail, &…. yeah that’s about it & this was before thanksgiving break. I have called two other times with no luck of talking to anyone & I’m starting to feel like I’m the crazy girlfriend in this situation! Is the staff at the school trying to tell me they don’t want to be in a relationship anymore? I want it to work, we’ve had some great times together! I remember that time we all had an IEP meeting in the library & everyone told my wife & I that they just LOVED my son! I remember everyone saying they would look out for him since he is vulnerable & I said thanks & that I was so appreciative! Remember that public school system? Remember? I chaperoned the trip to the zoo & when someone didn’t load the lunches I raced 50 miles back to pick them up only to make it back just in time for them to eat & you were so appreciative of me? Remember that, public school system? Oh, & remember that time we were laying on the beach & I brushed your hair…wait that was my wife… you get what I’m saying’? In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: Why ya gotta do me like that boo?
I guess my issue is… they kinda suck. Isolated incidents, crimes of opportunity, & security cameras that are seemingly never pointed in the right direction all make for a bully friendly environment. I mentioned in my previous blog that the local news did a story about a girl bing bullied by several other kids while filming it on a cell phone & posting it on the internet. That was at my sons school & when they interviewed the parents of that girl you know what they said the school told them… wait for it… wait for it… we are confident it was an isolated incident & not a situation where your child was bing targeted. It’s like they have a deck of cards with crappy excuses to tell parents. When a new one comes in with a problem they just draw a card from the deck!
The next move? Not sure! First move was ask nicely, second move was vent my frustrations to thousands of blog readers, third is to I guess go back to the drawing board. It’s just such a fine line because he says there is no one person bullying him but at the same time he is so oblivious to things like that we have seen situations like this before when someone is mean to him & he doesn’t even realize it. In rural Oklahoma there are not a lot of private school options (Ones that aren’t crazy religious or super expensive) & it upsets the hell out of me that we would even have to look at that option because he can’t get a fair shake at public school!
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.
One type of homework he never minds doing is band homework
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! 🙂
Wow! The last bit of school was great, the summer was even better, & as I came to the realization that I was about to have a 6th grader this week I did several things. 1st. Melt Into A Puddle Of Dad Sludge 2nd. I put myself back together thanks to the nice people at Blue Bell 🙂 3rd. I decided it was about time to jump back to the blog! That’s when I realized that I hadn’t posted, other than small social media posts, since march! Wow!
Things have been good! We took the summer head on with the boys first trip to my favorite place on earth, Colorado! Pikes peak was below freezing, hiking in the Rock Mountain National Park, & having snowball fights in the middle of summer were just a few of the things we did. You can see some highlights from our trip on our photography blog if it tickles your fancy! I think I’ve just about got my wife convinced that if I can market our studio in CO a bit & book enough weddings as well as portrait sessions we may try to start spending a month or two in the summer there. We’ll cross our fingers.
Like I said, 6th grade! How did this happen? I remember him being born, taking a first step, & then BAM here we are. Don’t even get me started on the other two boys, Zion (with an anxiety disorder & MERLD) started the 3rd grade & Deano (Completely painfully NT to the bone) starts 1st grade. This summer has been so amazing, it was like we took a vacation from Autism! Granted I know we still did the same things we always do; routines, de-stressing, all of our autism adaptations. The difference this summer was it was all normal for us, no big hiccups or hurdles! We just rolled through. It was great! That’s why I think it was even more scarier than I thought it was going to be when it was time to snap back to the real wold & start gearing up for middle school. All of a sudden I was all ‘BACK TO THE WAR ROOM’ starting to plan strategies for the transition & digging out my big boy panties to make sure we are ready to go to bat for the kid.
When we heard that the orientation was a ‘Drop off the kids, parents aren’t welcome till the end of the day’ style thing I went into ‘Its okay, Its okay, I’ll just talk it out’ mode but when I couldn’t get ahold of anyone to talk to I escalated to Dad-Con 4. My wife put it out on Facebook & what happened? The teachers, staff, & principal from the elementary school stepped up (a lot of them are on our Facebook) to give support as well as advice. The principal even made a call to the middle school personally to talk to them about Jayden & to make sure someone gave me a call to talk about him! It doesn’t get any better than that. She really went above & beyond, I don’t know what we would do with out such an amazing set of advocates in our corner! I know not everyone has that so I’m being mindful to stay thankful.
He came from the first day excited. The fact that he has science the first hour of the day & is working on picking what instrument he wants to play in the band is great. We are currently deciding between the xylophone & the snare drum so that should be… interesting… yeah, that’s the word I’ll use!
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I love that this photo captures the boys 100% Zion makes a goofy face (his classic defense mechanism), Jayden makes not a drop of eye contact, & Dean is just as A-Typical as you can get!!