Constructive Criticism

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No one takes criticism well. Someone with autism takes it even less well. So our week at high school, with our autistic son, was an adventure as some constructive criticism was directed our son’s way. He didn’t take it well to say the least. To say the most about it takes a blog entry.

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Physics Homework

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It is Sunday afternoon and the homework is not done. I suggest it, again, to my youngest child. He has Asperger’s and often gets distracted. He says, “Oh, yeah. Right!” and actually moves away from the computer. He goes and gets out the books, binder and pencil.  We have been down this road many times and he knows he needs to get the books out for anything to happen.  He comes to me and says, “I’m ready Mom”.  Unfortunately, I am not in grade 11 physics.  This is where the problem lies.  I can’t do my son’s homework.

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Learning Independence

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With winter approaching my work term is starting at the college and my husband is returning to work also. This means that our son needs to be more independent as we won’t be there as often to help at meal times, with household tasks, and with homework. This is a good opportunity for him to show some independence with his life skills. As one of us are never too far away, it is a good time to practice doing some tasks independently.

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Preferred and non-preferred activities

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This weekend there was homework to do. As a mother, I am all about getting it done and over with. Then one can enjoy the rest of the weekend. My son doesn’t see it that way. He is also autistic, so homework can become a battleground. This is the second year of high school and we, as parents, have decided that we are not going to nag our son through his studies. If he wants to complete high school it will be under his own power. We are trying to set the stage for post-secondary studies and greater responsibility in the future.

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Waiting and Wanting

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It is difficult to wait when one has autism. Our son is all about instant gratification. If he wants it, he wants it NOW. Waiting is painful, almost physically so. He has great difficult in waiting for something that is preferred. Once he decides on buying something, the money burns a hole in his pocket, literally.

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Google Speech Recognition

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Typing has not been a preferred activity for our son. With the advent of High School last year, he was introduced to Google Docs for one of his computer courses. Google Docs has a speech recognition program that is able to take speech and transfer it over to the written word. This program has allowed our son to produce his own documents for his school work, even though he is not a star typist.

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“You weren’t paying attention” trigger

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Recently our son came down with a cold. As he was using a cool-mist mask one evening I went over how to shut it off. When we used it the next day, I noticed he had just unplugged it last time. I told him he wasn’t paying attention to me when I told him how to turn the machine off. He went right off the deep end on me and shouted that he was busy taking his meds through the cool mist mask. I agreed and stated again that he hadn’t been paying attention to me give the directions. He just got more angry and threatened to not do the mask again. I suddenly realized that he thought I was being negative by saying he hadn’t been paying attention. I stopped and told him I didn’t disagree with him, in fact I was agreeing with my autistic son that he had been busy.

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Birthday Parties

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Our son has looked forward to his birthday party in September each year with enthusiasm. We, as his parents, less so as our son expects to magically have 15 kids appear and do what he wants them to do. This is OK in grade three, but by the time you have an autistic teen the numbers drop off. I have found a few coping strategies over the years for birthdays that may help other parents  with their autistic angels too.

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Measurement with Teens

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My husband and I never know if it is the teenager or the autistic that speaks some days in our family. Yesterday we were travelling in the car, as we often do to get anywhere, and our son explained to us that there had been a “crap tonne” of cards at the Trading Card shop. My husband and I looked at each other and decided to play along. We asked where this measure fits in with “Mega Tonne” and “Kilo Tonne” in the measurement system.

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The September Honeymoon Period

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School has finished its first week in September for many and our family is back into the routine. Our son has started his second year of high school and is settling into courses. He has the same lunch as his best friend, so all is well in the world for the card club and unstructured time. My husband and I call this the “Honeymoon Period” with our autistic son each school year and I am hoping it will last more than one week.

The Routine


It takes a week or two to figure out the new dance each morning for the school year.  We had a bussing change this year, so there is a bit more time in the morning.  After two mornings of getting up at 7 am and having to put in time before the bus arrived, we decided to wake our son half an hour later.  This allowed our teenager to sleep in more.  He is happier getting up later to start his day.  Breakfast can still be an effort as our son has some stomach problems.  As long as he can take his morning meds before getting off to school on the bus, he knows he is set for the day.  He also gets home sooner now with his new bus.  This is a huge advantage for our autistic son as there is less time for him to get into trouble on the bus.  Often he miss reads a situation with peers and this can lead to behavioural problems.

Lunch Time


Lunch time and other unstructured times have been an effort for our autistic son during the schooling years.  We find he has problems filling unstructured time.  In elementary school it was always the playground that provided the most trouble for our son.  He didn’t understand turn taking at that age nor social interactions with peers. Last year he started a card club for Yu-Gi-Oh that other students could also attend at noontime in the library.  This has been a success and as his Educational Assistants say, “A little Big Bang” in the library each day for trading card fans.

The Honeymoon


The new period of school beginning in September until about Thanksgiving (the Canadian one!) is our honeymoon period each year.  Our autistic son gets to learn the routine and interact with his newly assigned Educational Assistants.  He needs to find out where his classrooms are and which friends are on which lunch for his card club playing.  We settle into routine again.  As soon as our son becomes comfortable with the daily routine is usually when the bumps start to happen.  He decides to change things or refuses to do what is expected of him each day.  If I can eat turkey in October and have not received a phone call from the school yet, I call it a good start to the school year.

Of course, that rarely happens with autism.  Usually we go with the flow and the figurative punches that land our way. The first week has put us off to a good start.  We have a teenager that is interested in his courses, has his bussing figured out, and has started his card club meetings Monday to Friday in the Library at noontime.  That is the whole reason to attend public education when you have autism after all.

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