Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The "A" Word

How could Andrew have "needs improvement" on his progress report for math when he got 100% on almost every paper that he brought home?

This was the burning question from the first quarter progress report when Andrew was in the first grade, almost six years ago. I know that it is now time to let it go, but at the time I was irritated because I had not saved any of the papers. I had no way to prove that we had every indication that Andrew was doing really well in the class.

I later discovered that the teacher had given every student a "needs improvement" because literally everyone has room to improve.

Needless to say, I have saved every paper since that day, at least until the final report card has been received and there are no surprises.

Having just completed sixth grade, Andrew is now old enough to go through his papers and mature enough to realize that he does not want to keep every single one, just several dozen a select few which get stowed in a memento box under his bed.

So, I set him at this task last week, asking him to sort out what he wanted to keep and put the rest into the recycle bin. And then, of course, I surreptitiously culled through the pile again to weed out a few more papers when I saw this assignment. I am not certain exactly what he had been asked to do, but obviously he used words that describe himself or his life.

He included happy, hopeful, honest--all laudable qualities. And then there are interests like football and history and even his favorite color blue. And then I saw it--there in white right above the W of his name.


Obviously, Andrew is not the one with the diagnosis, but at the tender age of twelve--tween years, he would be quick to tell you--apparently he has realized that "autism" is a label that we all share.

At 12, Andrew is about to pass me in height. His shoulders are getting broader and his voice is dropping. He is beginning to pay more attention to things like washing his face and picking just the right outfit.

At 12, he has had to explain to his friends why David sometimes flaps his hands when he gets excited, or may not answer them if they talk to him.

At 12, Andrew still tells David that he loves him every single day and waits patiently for David to say it back. He wonders how things would be different for David--and for him--if David did not have autism. He thinks about what will happen to David as an adult.

As much as we try to prevent it, Andrew's life has always been somewhat defined by the fact that David has autism and at 12, Andrew is beginning to realize it, too.


  1. Kathy, as much as love reading about David -- heck -- I love reading all of your posts -- it's nice to hear about Andrew too. Hope you are doing OK...

  2. At 12 Andrew has the experience and the example of parents who love very much, and act on the love, who hang in there on the tough times and can enjoy the better ones.

  3. I agree with both prior posts....and would add that Andrew is growing into a young man that sees the world as it is and understands. He sees that everything is not always "perfect" but that even in life's imperfections, there is beauty, joy and love...and happiness, hopefulness and honesty. Even Texas. As much as we would like to change the reason, Andrew will be a much more mature young man - one not so quick to judge others but more able to see the positive in each person. Talk about teaching life skills.

  4. I have a 13 year old girl so I relate. :)