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Ethan finished up his first year of high school a few weeks back. While there were some bumps in the transitions and challenges with how Ethan adapted to how teachers gave assignments and presented course material, overall he had a good year. All A's with one very hard earned B in English Language Arts. He grew and matured a lot.

Some thoughts on the year:

Not starting foreign language this year and allowing him a 'free' period with a study skills class and a little lighter load this year was a good call. It was recommended by district staff to give him an easier transition year, especially because he would be taking all general ed classes. I'm glad we took the advice, even though it sets him back on college courses a little bit. It will be a little tougher schedule next year and he'll be starting Spanish I.

I'm also really glad that he took Drama as an elective. It's practically a social pragmatics class. They work on voice, body language, facial expressions, showing emotions, improvisation. He's taking a second year of it next year. His eye contact/visual referencing is still almost non-existent, but this gives him opportunity every day to work on these skills. Here's a link to a neat article about Autism and Drama that we found recently.

Math and Science are still pretty easy for Ethan. He rocked on through 9th grade common core math and biology. Next year he'll have a social studies course instead of a science so that'll make his course load even a little harder.

English was full of reading comprehension of point of view, motivations, imagery, metaphors, etc. It was a real challenge for him, but I spent time tutoring and helping him to edit his writing and I think he made solid progress.

Socially, he was fairly stagnant and was much like in middle school - he stuck to hanging out with his few close friends, and by that I mean proximity during lunch and class. New students that he met through his classes were still of the say "hi" variety and nothing much deeper. And so I bought Ethan the book Socially Curious and Curiously Social based in Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking curriculum. I liked the idea of a book written for him to read. He's almost done and I've been discussing the chapter review sections (I like how they formatted it) with him. Whether he'll be able to apply it is another story, but I hope to review the book and discuss any progress that I see in the future. My plan was to have him finish it before he leaves for summer camp. Which leads me to the final update topic.

Last year Ethan and his brother attended an overnight camp for 2 weeks. They both enjoyed it and I think it's a great experience for young teens in general. Ethan's counselors thought he did very well last year. There is also a support staff for kids with special needs at the camp if Ethan needs it. This year I'm sending them for 4 weeks. My hope is that the longer time period will give Ethan more time to become comfortable with his bunkmates and perhaps forge some more meaningful social interactions. I'm really curious to see what happens. It's also an opportunity for him to gain more independence from us. He's sort of innocent and immature in that respect.

I hope to have more to share later this summer.