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This is such an amazing story! Watch here for the girls progress post-surgery.
This is Cindy Szymonik. You may remember me from my previous blog posts discussing my two wonderful sons who are on opposing ends of the autism spectrum. For the past 15 years, I have been coming to terms with raising my boys in a world where they just don’t quite fit in, most of the time. And it follows that if your child doesn’t quite fit in to typical society, by proxy you yourself do not exactly fit in as a parent either. This phenomena used to be a source of great concern for me. How could I make them ‘fit’? How could I get them to enjoy the things that I myself enjoyed as a child? And MOST importantly (lol), when they were young, how could I find another mom to have some coffee with when the boys and I kept kind of getting edged out of playgroups?
The answer came to me slowly over time. I wasn’t going to. This is the fork in the road where my opinions often vary from those held by other special needs parents. Please remember that I am only presenting my approach and opinions gleaned from living with my particular kids. Your approach may well be different. But it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. (Just kidding). And actually I have become quite at peace with it. Some (not by any means ALL) of the situations that used to make me wish the earth would open up and swallow me because I was so horrendously embarrassed that we weren’t fitting in have become downright funny, now that I look at them with a different perspective.
A few months ago I was sitting in a kickoff meeting for parents for a teen religious education program. Everyone was pleasantly discussing the challenges they faced with their teens, nodding and commiserating with each other. I grew conspicuously quiet, and all of the sudden I had this weird visual that I was sitting in a puppy obedience training class. Everyone there had a puppy, but there I sat with a chicken. I like my chicken, don’t get me wrong, and wouldn’t trade him for a puppy, but the issues that were being discussed were COMPLETELY unlike the issues I was facing with my teen. Some of their issues were harder, some easier, but they were definitely NOT the same. It is sometimes hard for me to be objective since I am not, and never will be, the mother of a neuro-typical child. But it became clear pretty quickly that they were figuratively walking around that block while I was out in a barnyard spreading feed somewhere. Concerns of dating, sports competitions, popularity, and poor grades are not even on my radar. In some ways this is a good thing. But all the banter really didn’t bother me now. Years ago I would have probably felt sad and wished we were encountering some ‘normal’ problems too. But sitting there then it suddenly occurred to me that this was really quite funny. I felt like an ‘imposter parent’, who snuck into a meeting where I didn’t belong.
Hello, Internet. For those who haven’t been reading my articles, last month I foolishly posted an article about my impressions of high school before actually going to high school. I claimed that high school would be overall more fun and interesting. However, upon the first day of high school, I was wracked with anxiety and stress from its seriousness… for about a day. High school’s actually pretty nice, despite all the work, and the rules make perfect sense. I’d just taken it a bit too seriously.
A lot of things have happened since I started high school. For example, I’ve joined two new clubs: the Computer Club and the Robotics Club. In the Computer Club, I joined a subgroup whose focus was game design and was caught off guard when the discussion immediately turned to what game we would immediately start to create. I asked about why we were immediately starting, and apparently the Computer Club teaches by experience. We also started quickly in Robotics Club. I had initially joined Robotics to meet with my new friend, but it turned out that he was in a different one; I’m still going to attend, though, because I really want to program (and control) a robot. Our team is named “Blue Cheese”, a concatenation (I learned this word while learning Python) of one of our school colors and the concept of “cheesing”, or putting holes in a robot’s metal beams to decrease their weight. I also manned a spot on our section of this year’s Makerfest.
My curricular activities have been interesting as well. As per my M.O., I’ve taken all advanced courses, and this year I’m attending Theater (because theater is a wonderful storytelling medium!… and also because I couldn’t take Creative Writing as an elective. Also, I’m taking it instead of P.E. because P.E. is horrible.). Also, I’m taking two classes associated with my Specialty Center: AP Computer Science Principles and Adv. English 9. I’ve noticed that the classes seem to be paying more attention to critical thinking than they used to – that is to say, World History II, a follow-up to some of the most rote-memorization-heavy classes in school, starts with the teacher discussing the fact that all of history is interpretation based on scattered evidence and proposing an alternate theory of the first events that I learned about from World History I.
All in all, I enjoy this new school. It’s a nice change of pace from Middle School, and so far I haven’t been tormented by the rest of the school for being a Freshman. I can only think of two problems off the top of my head: Math needs more critical thinking (if that’s even possible, it’d fit the theme of “more critical thinking” quite nicely), and the library needs more serial manga. I mean, when I looked at their “Manga and Graphic Novels” section, all I saw in terms of serial manga was two different volumes of Naruto that I’d already read. That said, I think this school is excellent, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. I will update as events occur. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be seeing you!
Success in the workplace depends on communication skills, flexibility, time management, problem solving skills, taking initiative, and the ability to be open to
feedback. These skills are known as “soft skills” and relate to the way employees interact and relate with other people (their employer in particular). It is important that we understand the social elements of our job. Most people have a built-in “social radar” to help figure out the “hidden rules” of social situations across the work day. Some of us, however, do not understand those “gotta-have” social skills needed to do better socially, and advance professionally, in the workplace.
• A positive attitude
• Working as part of a team
• Flexibility and adaptability
• Critical thinking and problem solving • Openness and receptivity to feedback • Taking initiative effectively
• Effective communication
Autastic Avenues is now offering social skills/job coaching for young adults who are struggling to find and keep a job because they need help developing the “soft skills” that employers are looking for. Clients are given the opportunity for guided practice while working on the job for Autastic Avenues.
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I think as parents we all tend to have bad moments which can turn into a day, or longer at times. As special needs parents, I think we work harder and in many ways, more quietly, to get all we need done. We don’t like to ask for help, we want to help others around us and so many times we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders.
www.VPFW.comwill be sharing important information with us here monthly. Whether you are looking for a doctor for yourself or for your daughter, VPFW has the answers for you. As a patient at VPFW you will be part of an expert team dedicated to quality medicine and personal attention. They have superb resources, sophisticated technology, and the most knowledgeable and responsive staff imaginable. If you have special needs for your child, please let them know when you call and if they can help to make this a smoother transition, they will do all they can.
Well, we are back into our routine here an I am the one struggling! I am still forgetting the bus times, what day it is and that there are things to do once school is over! It is not normally this hard for me!
The weather in Fall is perfect for outdoor time. Here is a “Bucket List” of many ideas of things to do. Pick and choose a few that feel good for you. Some actually an incorporate some sensory/ tactile techniques too.
Regal Cinemas is calling it “My Way Matinee” and these movies will allow the children to see movies with lights on and sounds lowered.