I wonder who remembers the Saturday morning TV show, the Land of the Lost. Ok it was made into a rather bad movie recently (my opinion not an indictment of the film industry). For those who don’t know the original setting, it was of a family lost in a prehistoric world. Presumably an island that was hidden away from modern life and evolution. The family was supposed to use their modern smarts to help them navigate the strange environment in which they found themselves. It did not always work. They needed a guide, someone who understood the lay of the land and could direct them when situations became too much for them to assimilate. It turned out that the guide, a rather hairy fellow, probably an immediate family member of “Lucy” guided the modern family through their trials and tribulations. Of course as children, we didn’t know that dinosaurs and man never inhabited the Earth at the same time and that prehistoric man probably could not understand the functionings of a radio/walkie-talkie. But it was Saturday morning fun so who cared?
The interesting thing about that show is how it really bespeaks so much of my boys’ lives. I know I have used metaphors before (here, here, here) in order to try to create an understanding of what it must be like for my children, but I think recent events have added another equation. The boys are living a world that is alien to them in many regards. They do have problems understanding social cues, and are not quite sure how to handle new situations without guidance. But it all comes back to language. It is the unwritten and written language of a social code that like the family in my Saturday morning serial just does not get without guidance from a local. Now with collegeman going off to his next semester in college without an aide the issue for us becomes how to set down rules of the road for him to follow when it comes to new interactions. He does have a descent handle on the basic day-to-day interactions but it is the unusual ones that we are trying to prepare for. Still working that one out, will keep everyone updated.
In the meantime, Collegeman had an issue last week in art class (is anyone surprised) when what he said was misinterpreted by the professor, who promptly yelled at him rather than try to elicit from him the exact meaning he was trying to convey. I was able to get it out of him the next day, when he was able to talk about what happened. I would say upset would be an understatement. The aide told me he was in the hall crying because of the incident. I just hope that he doesn’t go back into his shell. He has been making great headway in talking to people and trying to be friendly, I know that an incident can set him back.
In fact while I have stayed out of the issue with the professor until now I took it upon myself to write her an email. You see I guess it really angered me that anyone, especially those that have known my child for months now, could accuse him of being mean and rude. Yes, mom was going to set the woman straight. Would most parents intervene, maybe in today’s helicopter parents world, the answer would be yes. But maybe also in a world where the professor has only negative feelings toward your child and grades are about to be given out and the entire grade is based upon a subjective criteria set by a professor that severely dislikes your child. I am not going to let her get away with nonsense when it comes to him and his future. It wasn’t a warning, per se, but it was a shot across her bow. (Question is if she actually understood that) I explained what he meant and how aspergers syndrome impacts his speech processes and even his tone of voice. (Of course I had mentioned all that in a pre-semester letter that I send out to his professors as well) You would think that by now she may have looked up some information or contacted the disability director for help, but that seems to be asking too much. We will see what happens. I am not looking to reengage the Borg, but I will if I have to.
So as the boys need a guide to understand the social language of the world, so too does the world need a guide to understand them. I do find it amazing how I need to be the interpreter for my boys. You would think that professors, persons with such high academic achievement would have the capacity to use the internet and find answers to vexing questions like what aspergers is and how might it impact the student in a class. But no. Yelling is just such a better solution and accomplishes so much more than actually teaching, besides showing the “adult” to be, oh I don’t know, possibly nuts. (Yes, I know, artsy-fartsy, but that doesn’t mean a person is stupidsy-moronsy either).
So now I have added a new role to my many hats, I have become the guide for professors who should have the capacity, on their own, to be able to function in the modern world. At what point do these academicians finally realize that persons with disabilities are not going to go away and it is time they dealt with it accordingly. Get yourself a damn book. It is academia after all and there are libraries available, even to faculty I understand. Here is my advice as a guide, whether I should be seen as a prehistoric hairy first generational direct descendent of”Lucy” or modern momminator: Pretend your job is to teach and bring joy to your students, not make them feel miserable and want to give up a talent that they have. If neglecting a talent is the reaction one of your students has to your teaching, then not only are you not doing your job, you should be ashamed of yourself.
No, I have not heard from the art professor, I have no idea if I will. Collegeman’s life skills coach doesn’t think I will. I think I won’t hear from her because what is she going to say? Make excuses for her overreaction and the inability to deal with my child. Luckily collegeman seems to have put the incident behind him, in his words, and moved on to study for finals. I hope so. I also hope that next semester’s art professor is as good as the one he had freshman year. Whether collegeman does anything with his art or not, at least he should always feel that he can. No one professor or person, for that matter, can decide what collegeman should or should not like to do with his life, or what he should like or not like about himself either.
I guess it really just never ends. Parents as guides, parents as interpreters, parents as intermediaries, parents as liaisons and teachers to anyone and everyone our children come across. Especially if the persons our children meet have no interest in or respect for the person with the disability standing before them. I suppose later in life, you would call that person your civil rights attorney. I wonder though if that original family in Land of the Lost was understood better by the T-rex that kept trying to eat them than this art teacher tries to understand my son. The answer is, without a doubt, yes.
Until next time and happy about the invention of waxing,