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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teenagers with Autism are Awesome!

So what have we been up to the past few months?  Not blogging apparently...  The addition of my 5th grade daughter to our homeschool day has made for very little writing time!  And thanks to my husband's Christmas gift of an Ikea chaise lounge for our bedroom, any down time I get, I find myself curled up on there with a cup of tea and a good book...this introverted mama needs some alone time after all:)

As spring desperatly tries to bloom here in Virginia, I find myself watching Jackson grow into a man before my very eyes.  He just turned 14 a few weeks ago and seems older and wiser with each passing day.  He is tall, strong, handsome and charming.  He is funny, gregarious, extroverted and friendly.  He is musical, athletic, comedic, and techy.  He is moody, loud, disruptive and angry.  He loves YouTube, Netflix, Sports Center and The Colbert Report.  He is 14 and acts more "neuro-typical" everyday...for better or worse.  

His academics are still a work in progress, with math success continuing to outpace language arts.  But he diligently does all the work asked of him and seeks my guidance and approval in all areas.  His mastery of geometry is fascinating to me as it was always such a weakness of mine growing up.  We will tackle fractions after spring break, grades 4-6 is our target level for this unit, and finding good materials is proving to be a challenge, too basic or too advanced seems to be the theme in my search so far.  

I have also really enjoyed our recent science & social studies units on the skeletal system and world geography.  As a professed map-geek myself, I've loved using an interactive globe to learn over 150 countries with him.  He is creating a World Fact Book as well, including a page per country with information such as capital, population, area, distance from United States, continent, flag, etc.  I also loved using the iPad games, Stack the Countries and Bone Scan Bob for these units.  We would love to travel with Jackson once Caroline goes off to college and use that time as a type of advanced degree for him.  


But the most essential and rewarding part of our winter homeschool season has been our community involvement.  Jackson is extremely social and outgoing.  He loves talking to people and trying to make them smile or laugh.  He can walk into a room full of strangers and have them all smiling by the time he leaves.  He has absolutely no inhibitions or awkwardness which makes he a natural charmer and motivational figure in our community.  He can work a room like a seasoned politician.  He randomly gets gifts from people who desperately want to give back to him, because he gives so much to them without even realizing it.  He is so generous with his joy and affections that people look to him for encouragement and rely on him for a "pick-me-up" on a regular basis.  "Where's my Jackson?" is a frequent question I get if I dare go somewhere without him these days.  I love the fact that so many people refer to him as "my Jackson".  There is a special ownership of him and pride in that relationship. 

So while he can drive me up the wall some days with his moodiness, I am thankful that I have a teenager who is making such a positive impact on his community that is not driven by forced volunteerism, adult manipulation for a reward, or college transcript bullet points.  I might not know where his place in the world is yet, but I feel more confident everyday that the world needs him a lot more than he needs the world! 

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