Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Four Days and Counting

Many people mark their calendars by the cycle of the school year. I tend to do the same. The year is finally coming to a close, and it has been a horrible year. Now, not that we didn’t have cooperative schools and not that we didn’t have people that would try to help both boys constantly. But this was just a horrible miserable over whelming and psychologically depressing year.

The stress was so thick at times you could cut it with a knife. The highschool vice-principal said that it is just the manifestation of junior year. That the students are all getting highly agitated for the big collegeboard tests and college applications to come. They are moving on with another part of their lives and they are ready to go, but have to wait out their time. Well for HSB, that was not the case.

There are many things that HSB can handle and many things that HSB has no problem with, but transitions and growing up is a major obstacle for him. He does not like change. He likes his routine, the people he knows and how things function. He doesn’t want to move on. When he was little he actually hated birthdays because it meant a change. It meant that he had to grow up and that he could no longer be a child. While he did look forward to his Bar Mitzvah party and having all the children from school come, he didn’t look forward to becoming a teenager. He’s probably the only child in history to not want to be a teen. Heck he is almost 17 and he so doesn’t even want to learn to drive. (Driving of course may have more to do with fear of the road and the consequences of mistakes than with the lack of desire to grow up. He says he is afraid quite often. But he needs to know how to drive just in case of an emergency. He doesn’t have to drive all the time). Perhaps that is why the book, Peter Pan speaks to him. I think he would stay young and a child forever if he could.

But he knows that he cannot and it makes him rather uneasy. That coupled with the fact that he had such a hard time in two of his major academic classes as well as in one of the classes he usually adored, his film/video class, has made for a rather unpleasant year. Frustration is not something HSB does well. He shuts down. He has always shut down. I think that the frustration ratchets itself up and instead of dealing with it; because it causes him so much angst, he just decides to turn it off and give up. I mentioned that to his algebra teacher at the beginning of the year when he failed the first exam. I told him that HSB had given up. The teacher, a veteran at his job, just didn’t understand. I tried to explain it to him, but he insisted that it was too early in the year for HSB to give up. I think this is something you really have to experience and live with yourself, in order to get the full understanding of how overwhelming anxiety can be. Now it did not mean that the teacher didn’t try to help HSB and they all worked to help him through this math class. So far he has gotten better. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the final.

It is easier to give up than have to deal with the anxiety that the frustration causes. We all know that it is not simple anxiety. A person on the autism spectrum has a special kind of anxiety that gnaws at them and turns their daily lives into a living nightmare. That is what happens to collegeman when he is in school. He is such a different person when he doesn’t have to worry about classes, homework and tests. But he knows to be anything in life you need to muddle through and to get that degree. I heard him explain it to HSB’s math tutor yesterday.

She asked collegeman how he liked college. He said he really didn’t. He just knows that to get anywhere in life you need a college degree and this was the way to get i. It was the means to an end sort to speak. So it doesn’t matter whether he likes it or not, he has to go, produce and accomplish in order to fulfill his life’s dream. Now don’t tell me, that he could be something else. Believe me, being a laborer is not in the cards for my children. The boys have wonderful minds and are going to use them. To curtail your abilities because you are patted on the head and said “poor child” don’t be upset is condescending and without merit. Teaching them to handle their issues is how things should be done. It is how they will have the chance to be who they wish to become. (Yes, that is my big theme)

Yet it is hard when HSB is so obstructionist. He stands in his own way and makes things so much harder than they should be. He procrastinates and hems and haws. He forgets to do the assignment and he forgets how to do the assignment. He refuses help, except in the most extreme situations, when sometimes it is so late, that he stays up most of the night finishing an assignment.

I know, this can be typical teenage behavior. They cut off their proverbial nose to spite their faces and can’t see the long term affects of any decision they make. HSB and collegeman are so different. Collegeman has a plan, a life goal. HSB has a moment by moment take it as it comes plan. Collegeman is driven and goal oriented. HSB is a teenager. Both need more help in the “chilling” department.

One more week for HSB until finals and then no school for two months. Hallelujah. Today is Tuesday- four days to go.