Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Autism Parenting Faux Pas

When I wrote last week, it was to atone for my teaching sins. I got a lot of positive feedback for it.  Quite a few of  you paid me the high compliment that it should be printed out and passed around IEP meetings.  It felt good to come to terms with some of the topics I wrote about and I got some good Oprah like cleansing over my past.

I couldn't help but hear a tiny little voice in the back of my mind saying "But yeah, not all those parents were so great."  Now, while I do have a greater understanding of some of their actions because I now live this life, there were far from perfect moments.  I now know about those "Desperate Acts of Parenting" that they pulled in order to maintain some sense of sanity because they were just at their wit's end.  I don't want to make this an "Us" versus "Them" debate.  I really can't blame everything on the teachers, therapist or case workers because guess what folks?  We screw up too!  All the bloody time. While we are on opposite sides of the IEP. Table, we are all at THE SAME TABLE.  We are all in it together!  We are not enemies more like family. We may fight but like families, we sometimes need to of that and then just brush it off.  Here's a few things you can do or not to help that parent/professional relationship.

1)The Notebook. While I will be quick to say how much it sucks to read a bad note/email or get a negative phone call about my kid and his behavior, it is in fact a necessary evil.  I may not like what I read but I need to know it.  They aren't doing their job if they don't tell us what's going on during the day.  In fact if we didn't get communication from them, we'd probably be bitching about it.  So realize they are just doing the right thing by giving us information we need to know in a timely matter.  Sometimes that will mean seeing a series of notes in a short time that aren't always the best reports.  That can be a drag. However the alternative of hiding your head in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist really doesn't help your kid. Accept you will hear not so hot stuff about your kid.  It will suck but if they didn't tell you and sprung it at ya at an IEP months later, wouldn't you be pissed?  Of course ya would!  Big girl panties on and read it.

2) Accept the fact that your kids will do stuff for them that they NEVER will do for you.  Yes, little Junior will marvel and amaze at school.  Most likely things that would never happen for you.  You will resent the living shit out of those teachers.  I know I have.  I'm pretty sure I got serious stink eye from a few parents.  It's just what happens.  New environment.  New people.  A fresh set of eyes and ears on a kid.  Sometimes, these folks just got tricks up their sleeves.  Appreciate the fact that at least it happens somewhere with somebody!  Better than nothing at all. 

3) Not giving the teachers/therapists a heads up.   Was your darling up all night?  Tell them.  Was your precious angel having a really bad morning because you offered milk to them in a red cup instead of the preferred blue one?  Did they completely refuse breakfast of any kind?  Even when you tried to bribe them with a Pop tart?  Write or email that.  We may complain we don't know what's going on at school all day but they aren't psychics.  No crystal ball on their desk next to the therapy putty.  Plus we have them for longer periods of time.  Think all the things that they miss and don't know might be factoring into behavior.  Don't think something isn't a big deal to tell them.   Let them be the judge of that. 

4) Do the homework.  Seriously, I know.  You're all "MAMA FRY BUT!!!" right now but do the damn homework.  There is a reason they are assigning it.  Even if you think it's stupid.  Even if it makes you crazy.  Do the homework.   If it's really becoming a huge issue, refer to point number three above.  SPEAK TO THEM!!!  But if it's a case of you would much prefer to watch that rerun of Two and a Half Men on TV right now than prod them along on their spelling, than you know what I mean.  Just suck that up, it's part of parenting that you signed up for with the pregnancy test came back as positive.  FYI, they all hate the Common Core too. 

5) Denial.  I'm typing this as I look over my glasses at you.   My friends call it "The Look".  I am telling you what you don't want to hear but know is true.  If the teachers notices behaviors, don't deny what they see.  If they tell you they have true concerns because they notice something, don't tell them "Oh he/she never does that at home."  Even if they don't, it means that they haven't done it yet.  Listen.  They are trying to help you. 

And for the love of all things holy, if you feel compelled to give them a gift, not another coffee mug.  My mom was a preschool teacher.  I worked in a school for ages.  We could open a coffee shop with the amount of mugs we got over our careers.   You know what's nice?  A note.  Yep, that simple.  A thank you note goes a long way. 

Or wine.  Wine is an awesome gift.  :-)


  1. I give wine and cookies.

  2. Hello this is Keegan again commenting on behalf of the Sluis Academy. It definitely is a touchy subject anytime a parent is informed about their child's behavior especially a child with autism and you could not of explained that any better. Just because someone is a teach or therapist doesnt mean their not human. Parents are so quick to place blame on everyone else when really how else would they know what went on with their child when they werent present. I really enjoyed this post!

  3. I just came across this blog and am cracking up. I'm a teacher and a mommy of little boy who is currently being evaluated and boy is it weird being on the other side of the table.

  4. I give the teachers a half day at a spa for surviving the year with, not only my son, but more so wroth me as his parent.

  5. We give the staff at school a crate of wine at the end of every term. They've so earned it by then :-)