Speaking of which, last month another child punched him in the stomach at the bus stop for no apparent reason. He was taken by surprise and extremely upset. I decided not to say anything at the school as I realize at some point he will need to start sticking up for himself and he is going to encounter bullies his whole life. Although this was extremely difficult for me – it’s hard to let go of the parent advocate role – I also realized this is “normal.” Kids fight, kids get bullied. It is not about where he came from or what he’s been through. No one here knows that. It’s about being just a kid. So we talked about the best ways to deal with issues like this, what bullying is, what *not* to do, and when it is appropriate to “tattle”, etc.
While his father and I had a few carefully selected, “choice” words about this child and had to stuff the defensive parent instinct, he took a different approach.
A few days later he says at dinner time, “Hey you know the kid … the one who punched me in the stomach?”
“Yes…” we all said hesitantly.
“Well, we’re friends now.”
“Really?!” I said very surprised. “How did that happen?”
He responded, “I just asked him. We were riding on the bus and I said, ‘Hey, do you want to just forget all this and be friends instead?’ and the kid said, ‘Sure.’ So now we’re friends.”
That’s my son! I suppose “the kid” could have just as easily clocked his block as said, “sure” but he didn’t and the situation was nicely diffused. I was so proud of him! Nice kid – 1; Bully – 0
On another note, while socially Ryan is flourishing, academically he’s faltering. Just a few years ago he was reading dinosaur encyclopedias and naming states on the map. But we said goodbye to most of his “super” learning when we said goodbye to autism. Now in first grade, his teacher just informed me at his parent/teacher conference that he is behind in reading skills.
I felt just like he did at the bus stop – sucker punched in the stomach. It seems in all our worry about how he would do socially, we forgot about keeping up with his academic skills. He is so bright and verbally is on par with most adults we know! I guess we just let the reading thing slip. Math is clearly a strong point and comes very easy for him.
There is also a part of me that thinks we lost the first few years and forget that he’s now a 1st grader. This was a huge wake up call for me as a parent – the job is never done! So we’ve stepped up the reading at home and put him back on a new chronic remedy. The teacher said she saw a huge leap in just two weeks.
Do I think the reading issue is related to his previous autism? Maybe… I have always suspected he is dyslexic. He still has problems with letter reversal but I have been assured up until now this is “normal” learning behavior. I’ve noticed when he reads he sometimes makes the “M” sound when he sees “W” or the “D” sound when he sees “B.” Is this normal? I don’t know! Is it relevant to his past? I ask myself that all the time.
I have decided it isn’t really. What matters now is that he’s a 1st grader who is behind in reading – for whatever reason – not that he is recovered from autism and now having reading problems. It is in some ways, so hard to let go of that past but I cannot let it haunt our future. It clearly is not who he is now.
So what’s the plan? We’ll keep working on the reading and we’ll step up the cod liver oil. We’ll continue to thank God daily for his recovery. We’ll watch out for sucker punches to the stomach. And most importantly, we’ll celebrate our two-time student of the month!