Wednesday, January 30, 2013
As a parent of a special needs child, the school districts often offer some type of "parent training" as part of the child's educational plan. When you are only beginning a journey such as ours, you tend to comply with most of the requests you receive from school. Mikey's school held its parent training sessions at night. While I was not a fan of leaving all of the kids in the evening, especially when Mikey was in the throws of separation anxiety,I decided to give it a try. Maybe I would learn something?
It only took a few sessions for me to realized that this was not my cup of tea. I am not really sure what the goal of the training actually was, but each session usually turned into a discussion between moms, talking about the usual mom things,only ours involved autism. Of course, it was nice spending time with the other moms, because I genuinely liked many of them,but in reality, the only place I wanted to be from 7pm - 9pm was at home, in my pajamas, with my family. Add in the extremely boring lectures and the fact that I knew Mikey was upset because I was not home, and it all became even less appealing.
Mikey's class was fortunate enough to have a consultant, which in the autism world is a person who is an "expert"(there is that word again) on autism, and could offer advice if needed. The lady who served as Mikey's class consultant was indeed a lovely person, but perhaps not the most exciting person to listen to during a lecture. These training sessions became very scientific, and truth be told, I had had my share of classrooms and lectures while I was in college. She was an incredibly intelligent woman,and very stern, from what I could see. She would explain to us that if one of her kids(who were typical children) accomplished something at home he/she would receive one m&m. Really? All I could think was here we go with the one m&m thing again. Who does that?
I did, however attend my fair share of these meetings before I decided I'd had enough.While some people might find this type of thing interesting or helpful, it was not for me. I found nothing more enjoyable than being at home in the evenings, snuggling with the kids and enjoying some family time. While I did receive a bit of grief from the CSE committee about my decision to stop attending, I stood firm, and told them that I really was not getting anything out of these meetings, and preferred to spend time at home with Mikey. They finally
eased up, but even if they had not, I would not have continued. I looked at it this way,while the consultant was nice, and well-versed in the subject of autism, she did not herself have a child with autism. I took issue with that. How could she possibly train any of us in parenting a special needs child when she was not herself a special needs parent? I mean, I could read every book in the world about performing brain surgery, but in reality, if asked to actually perform one, I wouldn't necessarily know what I was doing,or be good at it.What I am trying to point out is that both Mike and I were finding that the true way to learn about autism was to do what we were doing each day...living with it. Besides, if my son did something wonderful, I was going to give him a whole handful of m&ms...not one.