Fighting the Good Fight or Pick Your Battles There May Be Many

So, collegeman had his first full week of school last week. He had registered for his usual art, history and social science course. He had also registered for an acting course. Acting for non-majors. It was supposed to help you in your life skills and provide you with interpersonal skills that could last a lifetime. It was also not a specific class for aspies but was suggested for the student body as a whole. Sounded good right? Wrong.
We had told collegeman that if he didn’t like it he could drop the course and add something else. He was a little gun-shy about the acting part . He ususally is reticent about anything new. But that is par for the course with aspergers. We had sent our usual letter of introduction to the teacher. This letter details our son’s disabilties. Explains a little about who he is and the need for specifics. We also introduced the aide to the teacher, and assured him that she would be there throughout the class. Unfortunately the teacher does not know how to use email (I guess in your mid-twenties computers are an unknown commodity) because he had no idea what was going on with collegeman when he came in with the aide. Then throughout the class he kept telling my son that it would be ok to drop the course. The Dean of the Drama Department actually called the disability director and told her that collegeman should take a Tai Chi course instead of the acting course because Tai Chi is more structured and since he knew someone with aspergers he knew that that course was better for my son. (That’s because knowing one person with aspergers makes you an expert!) Then I got an email from the teacher detailing the acting exercises that they woud be doing in class. Now I don’t know about you but when I get an email from someome who is a professional educator and the letter/email is lacking in grammar, punctutation and the ability to use the shift key I am not so sure I would want my child to be taught anything from that person anyway.
As usual the disability director was very supportive of whatever we decided to do. She knows it takes a few classes for collegeman to warm up and as she said he always rises to the occassion. She did say however, that the add/drop deadline was short and that if he went over the add/drop day he would have to become a part-time student which is not what we wanted. So I sat and went through the schedule of open courses and wrote them down for collegeman. I didn’t want to tell him just yet what was gong on because if he had decided to stay in the course, how would that make him feel? So I investigated alternative possibilties myself. Now when I did mention dropping the acting, as we had promised him, he was quite pleased. So, I sat him down and we went through the courses. He wasn’t thrilled, mostly because of the times they were taught, so we went back on the schedule board to see if there was another course that I had missed. There was none. At this point we hadn’t really decided what to do about the acting class. Then the dad came home and talked to collegeman. He really did not care about the acting class at all. He was only taking it he said, because I had insisted. So if he dropped it, it would be a no-biggie to him. Then we thought about what to do as his parents. Do you put your child in a class where he is not wanted, where the grade is subjective and the teacher is obviously an inadequate human being. The answer came back a resounding NO.
But then we thought does this set a precedent, that everytime a teacher lacked a backbone in dealing with people’s differences or the dean of a department decided they don’t want to have to deal with a "fussy" teacher that we withdrew collegeman from the course? Now that was a hard one because we do not want to set a precedent. They should really know that they do not have a choice but to teach our child. That he should know that he has the right to be taught. However, this class was not his major. It was not something he was invested in and quite frankly we did not know what this moron of a teacher would do to his grade. Since it is subjective it would be hard to prove that moron was wrong, and he could ruin everything collegeman was working toward. So we had him email his advisor and request the add/drop.
She emailed him within minutes and told him that if he confirmed in another email that that is what he wanted she would do it. She then asked if he was ok. Collegeman did email immediately and told her he was fine. So we are rid of moron teacher and he starts another course next week. Luckily he only missed one class. But here is the new chink…he doesn’t have the syllabus and the new professor isn’t responding to the email requesting a copy. Hubby is convinced that its because of the three day weekend. My faith is less forgiving right now, but it can be restored at any moment once collegeman gets into the classroom. So we decided to look at the book and try to figure out what collegeman should read. There is a whole intro section and decided that that would be the best bet. It’s actually stuff he would need at sometime. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell that the new course is a business law course, and business law is what hubby does. So not a bad guess, I am hoping, on what collegeman should read.
Now many of you may disagree with our decision, I know in some way I am still conflicted. However, after looking at the different sides I came up with a simple test. Is this a required course? Can it be substituted with something else? Does the child have to take it? Can you trust the teacher to be fair and honest in the grading process? Is it worth the time, effort and money it would take to ensure that the situation remains fair? Would it have a positive effect on our child? Our answers led us to the conclusion we reached. NO. YES. NO. NO. NO. NO. So he switched.
We decided to retain our arsenal for another day  It just might be needed in the future. You never know. I remember the old adage be careful not to win the battle but loose the war. Something tells me this is a long drawn out war, and sometimes you need to know when to retreat to fight another day.
Oh by the way, I sent an email to the disability director informing her that collegeman would be withdrawing from acting and taking the business law instead. That I was not going to give that unprofessional whiny moron of a teacher respect by informing him that collegeman was dropping his class. That I also was not going to inform the Dean of the Drama department. That I would let her do that. However, I did suggest that she may want to inform the dean about some statutes that he may not be aware of like the Civil Rights Statutes and the Americans with DIsabilties Act. That his and the teacher’s attitudes and actions opened themselves and the college up to a massive lawsuit.  That they are lucky we are not different kinds of people. Whether she did or not I do not know. But that is not my problem. Let the college deal with the more ignorant among them. Remember the hallowed halls of ivy question from an earlier blog? I guess they failed with a big fat red F. Ironically the failures come from the acting department, you know that group of politically active persons that professes civil rights for all. I guess their compassion and understanding goes only so far as until it challenges or inconveniences them. Hmmm……
Until next time,

About Elise "Ronan"

#JeSuisJuif #RenegadeJew... Life-hacks, book reviews, essayist...
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2 Responses to Fighting the Good Fight or Pick Your Battles There May Be Many

  1. Trish says:

    "Choose Your Battles" is a major tenet in keeping balance in our home and family. I think you chose wisely – because the drama class is so subjective, the professor could give whatever grade he pleases. Too bad, though, because if he could actually get over himself it might have been a good class for your son. Business law is good too, especially to give him a taste of law before he decides that he wants to be a lawyer! (We used to say DS would be a judge.. skip lawyering altogether, he just wants to make the final decision.. he\’s grown a bit more flexible since then!)

  2. Renee says:

    I am not sure what to do on this battle. My Asperger teen went to a music audition for a local music festival camp he attends every year. There was someone from out of town who was re-nouned in his field of violin that was doing the audition. Most local music teachers know of my teens disability and tries to make teen feel comfortable before an audition.

    My teen had his part down and didn’t miss a note when it came to the audition. However one of the directors was talking in the hall of the audition kidding around that the teen would have to play three scales. Teen took it literally and I thought teen understood that the director was joking. Diector felt horible when shecrealized her mistake.

    I asked teen how it went and he told me his performance was good and he didn’t miss a note. Usually in the past teen does really well in auditions and was the Concert Master one year. He also plays two other instruments well and has a splinter skill in music. He was a MTA state piano winner and twice went to All-State Orchestra. He is known for his musical gifts. There is a Autism Helps Music book that has him as a testimony.

    When we got the results back of the audition, teen scored the lowest putting him at the spot saying he was the worst audition out of all the kids. Surely this was a mistake. All week this bothered me. I thought surely teen must have been put in the lowest spot to even out the orchestra. Some orchestras do this putting various abilities in strategic spots to balance the orchestra.

    Music is important in the fact that is what dear son is best at and shows an apptitude for. This is what will get him a scholarship at college.

    We are trying to lean in school towards technology based tracts to touch base with all options but dear son doesn’t fare as well. We also have had some issues of bullying. I am a feirce advocator at school but also have to pick battles. I have to think of the long term consequence.

    So back to the story, during the week I talked with the director and she asked the main conductor. They were both surprised that dear son was put where he was. The conductor said he would ask and would get back to me. He doesn’t like to make waves.

    The conductor never got ack to me so the day before the last concert an opportune time arose and I was able to ask the auditioners why he faired so poorley. At first I didn’t say who dear son was getting out of the audditioner that the kids were put in positions from best to worst. Then I alluded to who my son was not mentioning where he faired in the audition. . The guy remembered him from all-state. He has just played a chamber music group concert with him saying that he was a strong performer getting all his notes right and his rhythm correct.

    He then remembered his audition and said son came in and immediately went to his stand and played his part. The auditioner likened the audition unto “reading a boring phone book as opposed to reading Shakespeare”. He basically said he showed no presentation or personality. I noticed from the window during the audition the guy (from Yale University, British and boasted of playing before the Queen) yawned slightly and at the end of the audition looked at his phone.

    I then went on to say that dear son has Aspergers (I always put it down when signing up for camp) and Tourettes. That is his personality to behave that way. I told him he said he did not mess up once. Poor kid was probably worried he would have to play scales he had not practiced during the audition. He had won a scholarship to attend the camp. I don’t know if the auditioner was processing what I was saying. Later I noticed he purposely avoided me and nervously smiled as if to say he was a real j@ck@ss… well you get the word.

    Dear son did not mention he was disapointed (and I knew he was in unbelief) but it broke my heart. Dear son loves to be in the back of the orchestra so he did not mind. I know that because of his Aspergers he was not accomodated and as a result got last place.

    We had one auditioner for All-State that made sure he made dear son felt comfortable before he played his audition piece so he did well. He also had a son with Aspergers so he understood.

    The full-of-himself, Yale guy, played before the Queen, auditioner for camp, was also the coach for chamber group. He was the only adult coach that played with kids as if to say they couldn’t do it without him. That is a boatload of cr@p…he was micro-managing them. They were all teens. Usually that happens with little kids. He was on my last nerve. The guy is lucky someone interupted us because I would have started getting emotional.

    So the question is … should I make waves and talk to the conductor? Should I take the higher road and let it go because it will leave a sour note? I really was hoping not to have to advocate outside of school in musical activities. I do not want people to feel sorry and give him opportunities when he hasn’t earned them but I do want them to be fair and mindful. Basically because of kiddos disability he was not given the chance he would have if not disabled. Usually people understand that is just one of his characteristics.

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