Would he be happier, if...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SuZir, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Futile guilt and second guessing; not the most fun feelings to mull over.

    We have had our respite kids with us a lot lately. Their mom needed an operation and isn't able to take care of the severely special needs sibling nor the youngest on her own during the recovery period, so the needy sibling stays in residential care currently and she is back to her parents few hours away with youngest. Our respite kids have been with us for school weeks and travelled to see mom and grandparents for the weekends. Having them with us, and some similarities our respite boyo and Ache share have kept the topic question firmly in my mind during this time.

    Boyo is high functioning asperger kid and I have itched to use some training methods that worked well with Ache with him. And I have used some. I have also found myself bit frustrated over how well he learns certain things with those methods and tricks and in the other hand how little his mother has time and zeal to help him learn to function on the highest level he could.

    And that is the thing. When Ache was young we decided I would stay home for much longer than we had anticipated before his birth because his needs and our fears he would not be a good fit to day-care. In the end I was home nine years instead of the year or year and half we thought beforehand. And I did make it my main job to train Ache. To help him achieve his fullest potential. I did my research, I tried million different things, picked the ones that worked and I drove him hard. Structure, diet, activities, playing with him, carefully picking toys and other stimulus for his free play to help him improve and so on. At the time it felt like a no-brainer to do everything in our power to help him be as high functioning than was humanly possible for him. And he did flourish. He is way more high functioning than any professional dared to bode when he was young. Way more than we dared to hope.

    But he has also had to perform on his absolute limit all his life in almost all fields of life and almost all the time. There has been very few things in life that have come easy to him. And even those that have, have been crammed together with things that have been very hard or almost impossible tasks for him. Like academics; learning comes very easy to him, but academics go with school and everything else in school was either major challenge or almost impossible for him.

    It is planned that Boyo will start first grade in Special Education. Normal curriculum but smaller class size and with different type of kids and I find myself worrying if that decision will end up selling his academical capacity short. We had a very similar choice with Ache all those years ago. He had struggled a lot during three first years, was starting to play truant (or in that point more often just running from class room and hiding to school, often to some higher closet self or something similar), bullying was already an issue and we had an opportunity to try the autism/neuro classroom in other school. He spent a semester there and while it was meant to be a class for mostly high functioning autism spectrum students or ADHD kids at that time all the other kids were more or less with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and some had some LDs too. During that semester it felt that academically Ache didn't learn much (wasn't a problem in math or native language but it was just his second year of English and we were worried he wasn't progressing like he should) but he certainly picked every autistic mannerism one can imagine from his peers very quickly. His social development seemed to regress dramatically. He wasn't really able to keep up with boys in his sport teams socially at all any more and in one we were already recommended to think about moving him to teams for special needs kids. He started to behave in very embarrassing and childish ways publicly and it seemed that all the hard work I had put to his training was in spoils.

    After a semester we decided we wanted to pull him out and back to mainstream classroom. School was certainly agreeable. Ache had found all kinds of ways to entertain his new class mates and come up with all kinds of great ideas for them to do. So the Special Education teacher was more than happy to get rid of him. However that fall was an only time during Ache's school years he was happy to go to school and happy to stay there.

    At the time it felt so vital to help him be as functional as possible, that taking him out felt an easy decision. But looking back it isn't that simple any more. Yes, had we left him there it would be very unlikely he would be a pro athlete today, nor would his plan B be medical school. He wouldn't had lived alone in different countries by now. If he would have had girlfriends by now, they would be very different girls than his current girlfriend or ex. He wouldn't be a person he is now. More likely he would had ended up to specialised technical school for high school. Maybe he would be able to get a job from open market but maybe he would need more sheltered situation. Maybe he could live alone but maybe he would need some help. Maybe he would be on disability. But most importantly: Maybe he would be a happier person.

    Of course mulling this all out doesn't make any difference. We did what we did and we can't know what would had happened if we had done differently. And if we ask Ache now, he would certainly be appalled of the possibility of not having the options and lifestyle he does have. But of course, had it gone differently, he would have never known he could have things he now has and he wouldn't know to miss them. And maybe the road there would have taken less a toll out of him.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    What if.

    I don't think there are very many parents that don't have some of this "disease" - in the original sense of dis-ease, an uneasy feeling.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Yes, these what if's hoover. Especially when I know, given a chance, I would still be unable to just sit and watch my kid's potential to wash away if there was anything humanly possible to prevent it. So I guess not is mulling this over only redundant because there is no turning back time but because I would likely do same again.

    But some days, or more so; nights, it just rips my heart to shreds how much he is hurting and how much did we contribute to that.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I know. been there done that (d = done, or doing...)

    I go back over some of it sometimes, but I'm learning to not beat myself up over it. Rather... if my conundrum kid has kids of his own... how would I handle as a grandparent? If he asked me for advice, what would I suggest doing differently? I've found that to be a more productive focus.
  5. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Imagine all our what ifs. Be confidant. Usually our first choice is the best choice. Don't second guess. Other bad and worse things may have transpired. Hugs!
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am assuming that, like all else, Special Education means different things country-to-country. We have a variety of reasons for special education, but I only put my son into special education because he'd stopped being able to learn in a classroom setting. His behavior was fine (we have behavior problem classrooms too), but my son needed more 1-1. He was put into Special Education with a great teacher for English/Reading and Math only. He thrived with the special attention and, because he really struggled socially, he found friends and was even a leader in his classroom.(His other classes were mainstream with an aide who helped about three kids in each class if help was needed. She taught him things like how to take notes and how to separate the big picture from little, unimportant details. She taught him that rather than wondering what to do, that it was ok to ask for clarification. Before her, he'd just sit there and be afraid to ask questions. I loved her).

    Sonic did not have your son's potential for learning. He has learned and done more than anyone every expected. I remember that right after we adopted him, telling a psychologist about his being born drug addicted, and the man saying, "We can't do much for THESE children!" But I kind of blow him off because I knew that Sonic was already learning. He was just speech delayed and had a different way of thinking.

    Spec. Ed was great for Sonic until high school when he was mainstreamed and did do most of his classes without any help. Still, he chose not to continue school after 18 and can only work for a limited amount of time before it overwhelms him. Yet he is living independently and has friends and is happy.

    If Sonic had not stopped learning totally in a regular setting I probably would not have put him in Special Education.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    I think your son is doing GREAT! :)
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Around here special education is supposed to be very flexible system with different placements for different kids. Kids in Special Education can either have normal curriculum or it can be personalised (for example many are exempted from second foreign language or even both required foreign languages that mainstream kids have to take) and kids can be in Special Education for some classes and mainstreamed for others. Most of kids also are mainstreamed later even if they start in Special Education. That is, how it should go. And for many it does go like that. For example an early plan for Boyo is few years in smaller class room for most classes, mainstreamed for PE, art etc. and then mainstreamed totally before mid school (he did well in academical part of his psychiatric tests for school placement.) We will see.

    However I think we all know school world doesn't actually always work like 'the manual' and official version says. In the neuro class room Ache was that semester kids were clearly more affected than we were led to believe. And when some did have serious learning difficulties and even others had issues that could interfere with academic performance, and even though there was a Special Education teacher and an aide for six kids, my academically gifted little idget wasn't getting the challenge he needed. For them it was enough he was hitting the lowest goals. 'Just passing' just wasn't good enough for me and my husband considering how gifted Ache is. And they seriously inflated the grades and gave easier exams in that class even for kids who were supposed to have totally normal curriculum. It would had been fine if we had not been expecting Ache to compete for very competitive admissions later in life, but in the end, at the time, it seemed that making Ache as competitive as possible in his strong areas simply felt like the way to go. And to be honest, I doubt Ache would do well in less challenging repetitive work even if he weren't driven so hard. And that tends to be a type of work you get if you are not either academically or socially competent (and Ache isn't competent socially and wouldn't be what ever we would had done.) And really, it was striking how our 'almost like any other kid' child changed to clearly special needs child during those couple months. It felt like such a simple choice at the time.

    But he was so happy and carefree then...
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, Sonic was never normal...lol. He was different and really kids liked him, typical kids and atypical kids. He's just very nice and pleasant. Got very little teasing even being special needs and one of the very few black kids at his school.

    Our special eds are all different and there is testing and different curriculums for each kid in the different Special Education classrooms. Sonic learns best in a small environment with somebody around in case he doubts himself. But he's not a scholar. He has an average IQ, but the autism made certain learning issues harder for him. He did graduate with a good GPA, but in no way was interested in going onto college. Some ASDers do. It is usually quite a challenge. Sonic is doing very well considering the drugs he ingested before his birth and the dire predictions of the psychologists who met him when he was little. He has surpassed every goal anyone predicted for him and I'm truly, truly proud. He is a very hard worker and does not feel sorry for himself at all.

    Sonic could not finish college. However, if he were a gifted athlete, like your son, and the pros wanted him, he would definitely be able to function in THAT world, at least as far as performance and getting along with the other people go. I don't know much about the other parts of professional sports, but I can easily see an athletically gifted atypical neurological young man doing quite well as a pro athlete. Sonic is actually an above average athelete and does play sports with others...nobody is going to draft him anytime soon, but athletics are much easier for him (and more interesting) than academics.

    Our neurologically different young men are very interesting. You must have done the richt thing for ache (I laugh so hard at the names you picked for your boys). Seriously, though, he is really doing well. So there is no need to second guess yourself.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    SuZir, I agree with-MWM... why are you even second-guessing yourself? I think you've done a great job.
    Ache needs help and you have gotten it for him. You have observed and practiced and stayed true.
    Having said that, I well know the feeling of second-guessing myself as we deal with-my son at 18. Should I have dropped everything and stayed home with him? Would it have mattered in the long run? I think he needed to interact with other kids so looking back on it, that was a good thing. So many other things just couldn't happen because husband and I weren't on the same page. Heck, even the doctors weren't on the same page.
    To make myself feel better, I think back to the time that a district supervisor stopped by kindergarten and watched my son's class, and she commented to another teacher, "Look at that kid over there. There is something seriously wrong with him."
    I heard it a month later, through a different teacher. Oh, how I wished I could find out who the supervisor was and what exactly she "saw." What she "knew."
    And that she spotted it instantly when she looked at the class as a whole. (The only thing I know for sure was that he was not participating at all in a musical directive they were doing. No clapping. No swaying. No singing. No foot tapping. Sat. And. Stared.
    But would it really have changed anything? Would it have added anything more than one more spec needs class, or earlier medications, or really changed his neurological makeup?
    It would have helped. But totally changed everything? No.
    We do what we do with the information we have at the time.
    Plus, we have to deal with our own stressors, our own abilities to cope and teach and thrive. Or at least, survive.

    I hear you. "We did what we did and we can't know what would had happened if we had done differently."
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    MWM: In the way your Sonic has fuelled these thoughts. Our sons are of course very different young men but he sounds so content and successful young man. And mine is so very much struggling. But it can be, that it is, who they are. My son never had content or happy disposition, though he was much happier person when he was a young child than he is now. Maybe he simply is way to intense to really be content and happy. Let's face it, I don't have particularly content disposition, my parents certainly didn't have, neither had my grandparents or their parents. And what I know about Ache's biological father, content or happy are not the words to describe him. That Ache's dad and brother has that, doesn't mean Ache could ever have it. If it is in anyway genetic instead of learned, Ache is out of luck. And even if it is learned, I certainly have not modelled laid back and content attitude to him.

    Social side is what my son struggles in being pro athlete. In the field is his safe place, problems start off it. A pro athlete needs a lot of self discipline, executive skills and social skills that are difficult for him. Individual athlete has to be a real self starter but even a team athlete has major part of their responsibilities they have to do on their own. They are given exercise programs (or at least suggestions, often especially later in career they are expected to figure out their own way of doing things that compliments their specific, personal needs) and are educated about nutrition and life habits, but of course they are the one who makes a every day decisions and pays the price of eating that hamburger and fries instead of chicken pasta (that one is especially slippy slope, because especially when young and till certain point they get away of it. Until they do not and it shows in their performance or they are publicly shamed for their conditioning.) Punctuality, neatness, being quick and efficient in everything is their gospel. I know I would have big problems if after a game (and I do play 'competitive' (as in, we do have games that have a referee and scores are kept and league has standings) handball) I would need to first deal with press, then take off my equipment, pack them up (in the only way they go to the space allowed), do stretching, have icepacks for injuries bundled to me (after waiting that medical trainer has time for me) etc., take a shower, dry myself, put on street clothes, have a dinner somewhere on the facility, meet and have quick chat with my friends on the other team, make a laundry bundle (everyone has a cord with their name and they have to attach everything personal going into the laundry to it so that they stay together and service has an easy time telling whose under shirt etc. it is), pack rest of the stuff, pack it into the bus and be in the bus ready to go less than forty minutes after the game ended. It is a well oiled machine, but you really do not have time to dawdle or be less than organize to make it.

    Self discipline gets especially tested with team athletes when they are injured (and injuries are regular event for any pro player.) That is when you lose your structure and social circle. You are usually alone in the city there you only really know your team mates and after the injury you see your team mates seldolmly. You do meet team physiotherapist, massage therapists, trainers frequently, you are given advice how to rehab your injury, you may even have a trainer or physiotherapist to help you and and keep an eye on you every now and then. But mostly you are all alone, with some elderly ladies, in your local swimming hall doing endless, boring the tears laps of deep water running or some other rehabing exercise. And cheating even the smallest bit can cause you a new injury and eventually your career. You quickly become a stranger in your team, outsider, not part of the core any more. For many it is extremely taxing and mentally stressful part of being an athlete. And almost none escape from it.

    Then there are social skills. Individual athletes sometimes have little easier time, sometimes not (when you travel, train, compete against and share a room with someone 200 or even 300 days a year, it kind of hoovers if you do not learn to get along) but team athletes have to survive in very complicated social situation. First things first, your team mates are really not on the same side with you in every way. They are also your biggest competitors. But you have to act like they were your buddies. Balancing self interest and team interest is very difficult task, but if you are not able to do it, you are either not competitive and will be out or you are consider a locker room cancer and are likely out (if you are not good enough.) Any team athlete will always tell the media and fans how great team they have, how well they get along and how nice everyone is. That is in most cases pure BS. Usually there are cliques, rough pecking order, someone is outcast and some people don't even talk to each other. If it stays some way in control it is considered a good situation. Fist fights in locker rooms and after bar nights are anything but unheard off. Most of the time, there are bullies. But everyone just tries to hang in there for the good of the team. It doesn't help, that they have to spend so much time in so tight quarters. Then there are coachability. Ability to please your coach, ability to evolve to the direction they need you to, for the good of the team. And at the same time make sure, that you are not sold short by trying to make you, a square peg, to go into a round hole, because team needed a round peg they didn't have.

    And then there are fans and media. And living in the situation, where you are recognized when you are in you local supermarket making groceries. And people look what you buy and if there is a case of beer in your shopping cart, next thing you know, there is rumour going on, that you are an alcoholic/your bad play week ago was because you were hangovered or something like that. And it is not just alcohol, fatty foods or candy can be something you hear rumours later too. And heaven forbid, if you are some time grumpy at public. Stories going around can get very wild even if the situation in question wasn't much anything. And when someone writes it into some message board, it changes to "the truth" of your character.

    It is a high stress lifestyle with lots of going on, that people do not see.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015