Autism and report cards

Cathy Blatnik

Dominic has been in a special education classroom since he was three years old. Just in the past couple of years, he has been getting report cards with a "letter" grade. For a lot of children, paying them for good grades is a big motivator. Dominic is motivated by positive praise. Always has been and probably always will be. During the day at school, he doesn't have a "typical" class schedule. Most of his time is spent in his classroom. Dominic does get "mainstreamed," into a few classes, like choir, so it's like he is getting the best of both worlds.

I have said this before and I'll say it again, when Dominic was first diagnosed with Autism at age 2 1/2, I had very low expectations for him. I knew absolutely no one at the time that had a child with Autism and I had so many doubts as to what he could achieve. How would I parent him? would it be similar to raising Lauren? For example, teaching Lauren to take a shower was relatively simple, Dominic is absolutely terrified of the shower, so he continues to take a bath. Oh, my - clipping his fingernails and toenails can't be done at the same time, he will literally run out of his bedroom. I have to put it on his daily schedule or he will refuse to let me assist him. When Dominic asked to go to the barber in the Summer of 2015, that was a huge step forward on the life skills "road."

Dominic's class from time-to-time will go to the movies and he gets to order his own popcorn and pop. Since he was four, he has been on ADHD medication. I used to have to sneak it into foods, but for several years, he has been able to take it himself. He even takes a dose in the school office during the school day! He willingly takes his anti-seizure medication and will remind me if I forget. Dominic puts his dirty clothes in the basket in our bedroom and he sets and helps clear the dinner dishes each day. He dresses himself each morning, though he needs verbal reminders to move it along so he doesn't miss the bus. Brushing his teeth continues to be a struggle, but we work on it.

Last week in the mail, we got Dominic's report card. My eyes went immediately to the comments section, specifically the comments about his life skills. It said, "life skills participation grade - excellent participation/effort." He had an A+ too, which was just the icing on the cake. Receiving that type of positive affirmation as a parent of a child with Autism, just energizes me even more to continue to work on those life skills every single day! I have great hope that he can live on his own one day. It is something I think about A LOT. Time will tell.

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