Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parent Training

   Kindergarten was moving along nicely for Mikey, and our head banging incident seemed to have been an isolated one(or so we thought), so we were in a good place. His school held many meetings to share the childrens' progress, as well as discuss other happenings in the classroom.Parent training was one of those things.
   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.

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