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High school here he comes!

Today was Ethan's last day of middle school. I vividly remember my abject fear of his heading to middle school three years ago. It is undoubtedly the worst age for adolescents. Seriously, for most people, it is middle school where they remember their insecurities, the cruelty of others, the anger and the world and universe. Well, I do. And some of my friends.

Ethan? Not so much. I wish I could bottle his general amiableness. He cruised through, at least I'll give credit to 'with the help of Prozac.' Granted, he was at a halfway decent school and had a lot of supports in place, including a really dedicated group of teachers and administrators. He grew (over 12 inches) and developed. Even some higher order thinking skills began to emerge. He had almost all A's in a general ed track. He became more independent.

Unfortunately, what didn't happen was development of social interest. Three years later, and while he has some school acquaintances, he hasn't developed any friendships. He's no worse for wear, but I truly worry about his lack of attachment and interest in his peers. It's the core of autism. He is quite often unto himself.

What's next? High school. We have an IEP in place to give him social and emotional supports for his college track program. I'm a lot less worried about his treatment than I was for middle. I'm optimistic that most of the kids at his high school are coming from his middle school and in general this school is known for a good student body and not known for serious bullying. I really think bullying peaks in middle school.

At big milestones like this, I often reflect on how far he has come. He barely spoke but a short list of words until five (and only when prompted). He was 'spacey', he wandered, he cried a lot at the oddest and most unexpected times. Toilet training was a long and unpleasant journey. Eating was often a challenge. I often say, he's worked harder than most because for years he went through 10-15 hours a week of ABA/DTT/Etc behavorial therapy, speech therapy, facilitated learing. At school he had many many evaluations and testing (additional to academic testing). As anyone familiar knows, early intervention is... emotionally exhausting at times. As he got older we started in with clinical trials - he had MRIs, EEGs, and lots and lots of behavioral and social testing and evaluation. Not to mention blood draws.

He's done the work and come a long long way. No one in the medical realm will ever talk about prognosis for kids on the spectrum. They really don't. It's the elephant in the room. He who must not be named. But kids will progress. Some more than others, but all progress and achievement are welcomed and celebrated.

I still hesitate to talk about his future, but I do investigate some potential paths for him to take.

Here's to you, Ethan. Congratualations my high school teenager.

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