Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Volunteering Has Begun...Yippee

The boys' semester has ended and they are once again helping out at the Audubon Sanctuary. This week they are assisting in planting a "native" garden. And no, I am not helping with the planting. I will clean toilets but I don't do "dirt" (and yes I understand that in a post-apocalyptic world where we would have to grow our own food, I would go hungry)....

I do have to admit it is not going as smoothly as I would have hoped. In all truth, CM1 is just fine, asking for help and doing what he is supposed to albeit not truly happy to be digging so early in the morning. CM2 in his usual manner is being grumpy. This negative attitude that he started sometime his sophomore year is continuing and it is not pleasant. I do understand that it is the age. I just can't wait for him "to grow out of it" as they say....

This is one of those times when "autism meets typical adolescent growth and development." I remember when the special ed teachers at the high school thought it was funny that I can handle anything "autism" can throw at me but typical adolescent  nonsense sets me on edge. Like today.

I suppose that puts me in the category with most other parents. I just don't get adolescents. I remember when I was asked to do something I did it. I might not have been happy but I did it. I didn't sit there bitching and moaning and making myself miserable. I did it and got it over with. In truth I wonder at times, if it really is a cultural issue. Has society changed that much that our children are different then we were? Yes, I understand every generation feels that way.

Luckily the youngwoman who runs the Audubon program has a terrific instinct on how to use the boys and how to get them to enjoy what they are doing. Right now she redirected them into a different project associated with the new garden. She also isn't afraid to tell them to behave and to let them know that they are being socially inappropriate.

Also there is another woman who is working with them whom they know from last year and she understands them as well. It was just related to me that this woman has been trying to engage CM2 in small talk. He, as is his nature, was quite resistant. In fact she asked him did he know why she was trying to talk to him about little things. He said no. She explained to him when you work with people its nice to be able to converse with them. (Another much needed social skill) CM2 in his rather blunt way rejected her theory. (So I am told).

I honestly believe we lucked out in having the boys volunteer here. The people are kind and understanding. They, knowing the boys now for over a year, are not shy about correcting them and directing their behaviors. I suppose that is the crux of the matter isn't it. The place that you put your children should always be a learning experience of some kind or the other.

Actually as we have learned over the years, and as some studies have shown, the thing that does most aspergeans in when they enter the real work-a-day-world is the social deficits they deal with everyday. If you can get your children into a situation where the people around them understand that this issue is something to be worked on, not something to hold against them, and something to be guided so that they learn, you have found a really good situation.

Now of course this is a volunteer activity and I don't expect businesses to really spend too much time teaching social skills. Yes human resources will give instruction to people about appropriateness in the workplace, but they too go just so far. Everyone is usually allowed a whoopsidaisy as long as the activity in question is not criminal. Yet if by the time they do enter the workforce there is at least some modicum of understanding of "office social rules" then your aspergeans will be ahead of the game.

By the way, the youngwoman director told me that CM2's attitude is much better than last year. Well that's something and gives me a hope that there is a light at the end of the obnoxious behavior tunnel.