So as the summer began to wind down, instead of ramping up as the teacher for the school year, I slipped on an attitude of a student and spent that time learning as much about Jackson as I could. And what I discovered was that my little boy had turned into a man before my very eyes, and I needed to stop treating him like a child and respect the wants and needs of this young man. He needed more say in his daily educational experience. He needed to feel more in charge of his body and mind. In short, he needed more freedom, like all teenagers need as they begin the transition into adulthood.
We decided that his anxiety had become too overwhelming and was beginning to consume his daily life. So we added a mild blood pressure medicine (Intuniv) that has helped tremendously with his angry outbursts and over reaction to stressful and confusing situations. We also felt that as he stormed full steam into adolescents, he needed to spend more one-on-one time with his father. So we added 30 minutes of weight lifting to his schedule - EVERY morning at 6:30, the 2 of them watch SportsCenter and lift free weights in our manly, but unfinished, gym space in the basement. The combination of these 2 things alone, has been remarkable. But his school-life had to also be adjusted to fall in line with his new wants and needs as a young, proud and confident man.
So instead of a rigid daily schedule that stressed consistency and continuity of topics and activities, I decided to give him more autonomy over his courses. We stuck with a loose outline of the day, but gave him a lot of options within that structure that looks something like this:
6:30-7:00 Weight Lifting with Dad
7:00 Make Coffee
7:30 Make Breakfast
9:00 Book on CD & Devotional
9:30 Starbucks & Shopping
After we get back from our daily coffee run and shopping, which includes everything from the grocery store to the cleaners to Target, we begin going through the 5-7 activities that he chose that morning. After following this schedule for a few months now, I have discovered that he has definite preferences. This has been very eye opening, and has helped me learn more about what he perceives his strength and weakness are. He loves:
7. Social Studies
He is a cool mix of left and right brained strengths. He is not "an autistic savant" in any one area (like every other TV special on autism likes to glamorize), but a nice, healthy mix of creativity and analytics. He grown in both physical and mental strength, as he can settle his body and mind much more effectively than ever before. And while I would not go so far as to say he has mastered the art of self control (as I have not even achieved that feat yet), he has come a long way since the school year began. I attribute his progress to our shift in perspective from how we want to parent/educate him, to how he needs to be parented/educated, as a new and growing young man, who one day might just surprise us all and be an independent and impactful man that this world could learn so much from.