Thursday, March 23, 2006

Aspie Digest – March 2006

Our Learnings

Figured I’d post an update on our Aspie-related stuff.

LilProgrammer is doing well (if you don’t count his school grades). I am told that the teachers are happy with him, and that he’s shown an improvement compared to 6th grade. So far I have seen no D’s on his end-of-term reports. I have seen a D or two on his last interim report. He’s probably getting tired. Truth be told, so am I. The school year, for me, pretty much ends after the testing week is over. Never fails. Every year, after the kids are done with their tests, I fall apart and stop giving a shit about their schoolwork. It is especially true this year, as they are both graduating from their respective schools. I know… despicable.

(UPDATE: I wrote this post yesterday. This morning, LilProgrammer got in trouble at school because a project he'd turned in was unacceptable (not formatted correctly, repeating words to inflate word count, etc.) The project was... are you sitting down? "Make a mask of diversity and write an essay explaining the mask". Why oh why does the school have to make it so hard for me? How in the world am I supposed to convince LilProgrammer that this project is important??? *bangs head on wall*)

We are seeing his new therapist every 3 to 4 weeks and she is awesome. She gives very good practical advice. Here are a few examples that may be of use to you.

1. Bathing. I want LilProgrammer to take showers at least every other day. He wasn’t really against it, problem is, it’s very low on his priority list so he kept on forgetting. I’d be nagging him all evening: “LilProgrammer, don’t forget to take a shower” and he’d be, “Right before I go to bed”. And then he’d forget completely, and I’d be sleeping by then so I couldn’t remind him. What we did was, I took two index cards and on each of them I wrote in red marker, “SHOWER” and on shower days, I tape them to both sides of his door at his eye level. It works like a charm.
2. Homework. LilProgrammer used to procrastinate and procrastinate and end up starting on his homework at 10 and 11PM. Then, one of the two things would happen: he’d either do a horrible job on his homework, or he’d stay up till the early hours of the morning and be late for school the next day. The therapist suggested that I take away LilProgrammer’s computer cables every morning, and only return them to him after he’s done with his homework. We had a long discussion in front of LilProgrammer about the logistics of taking and giving back the cables. That scared him half to death. He started doing his homework early in the afternoon. He even started doing it in school during study period (before, he refused to do that on principle). Of course, the problem remains that I don’t do a good job checking his homework. And I don’t really know his assignments. Oh, and ninety percent of the time, I cannot read his handwriting.

I thought LilProgrammer would be happier typing his homework, essays, etc. I am not sure if he is. The teachers certainly are – this way they are at least able to read his work. The problem now is that LilProgrammer has uninstalled Microsoft Office from his computer, because, he says, Microsoft is evil. (He has a valid point, but that is no reason to use Notepad for his assignments!) He uses Notepad for everything. This is crazy. He also refuses to store his completed work on his hard drive for more than a day – he deletes everything, so if he needs to make changes later, he has to start over. The reason for that is, he says it’s taking up his drive space.

Social Graces

LilProgrammer seems to be communicating with people less and less every day. He barely even talks to people on the Internet, much less IRL.

He says he doesn’t like being around people and he doesn’t like it when people try talking to him and asking him questions.

He does talk to us (me, Mr. Goldie, and ChinchillaBoy) but it’s very hard to understand him. He kind of mumbles. But we’re used to it. He’s being nice and polite and makes comments on the general flow of the conversation.

Positive Stuff

LilProgrammer is becoming more organized and responsible. He doesn’t like being late for school. When I was on call in January, I had constant calls at night and as a result overslept and made him late two days in a row. I then told them that he could not count on me to get him to school on time. He has to count on himself. Now, he sets the alarm, gets up at 6-45, gets ready for school, and leaves for the school bus at 7-05. A few days ago, he got up late and missed the bus so he walked the two miles to school and got there before the bus did.

LilProgrammer makes some of his own food. Mainly, he makes his tea. He makes five mugs of tea at a time, and carries it to his room on a tray. This way he doesn’t spill it. When he’s done, he washes the five mugs.

A few weeks ago, he filled out his choice of subjects for 8th grade. He got into accelerated Math and Science, which I was very happy about. (Well I knew about math, because he’s in accelerated math right now – to put him into regular math in 8th grade would mean he’d have to repeat a year!) He also chose a workshop, which is good, because he likes building things with his hands and he’s good at it.

He writes a lot of code. It works, but no completed projects so far. He writes everything in C++ now.

Last Saturday, he took an out-of-print ACT test as part of Midwest Talent Search. However, he spent very little time getting ready for the test. Then the night before the test, he looked at the practice questions and was puzzled because they used material that he didn’t know, like trig. I said that, had he read the book I got him to study for the test, he would’ve known the trig by now. LilProgrammer replied that he didn’t believe in studying for tests. He said,

“Your test result should be a sample of how smart you are and what you know. When you study for the test, that throws off your sample”.

Next morning, I took him to our high school four miles away, to take the test. At noon, I was supposed to pick him up. At 11:50, halfway to the high school, I suddenly saw LilProgrammer walking down the street towards home. Turned out they had finished early because they didn’t do the optional essay section, so he decided to walk home instead of waiting for me.

Future Plans

LilProgrammer starts junior high this fall, and I am scared out of my mind. Our high school consists of the 8-9 building and the 10-12 building. They stand next to each other, are connected, and some classes for the 8-9 students take place in the 10-12 building. Basically, LilProgrammer will be interacting with juniors and seniors. I am very worried. He looks and acts very strange. I hope they won’t tease or bully him.

Our therapist says that, for high school, we definitely need to an IEP put in place for LilProgrammer. Right now he doesn’t have one. The school says they’re not sure if he’s eligible, and nobody, including myself, knows what to put on his IEP. The therapist says she’ll help us with it. I probably won’t be posting its contents, but I’ll let you know when it’s done, in case anyone out there is in a similar situation and could use help. This way you can email me and we can talk. So far we have nothing.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:02 PM

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