Tag Archives: special needs education

Looking for Mr. Right….

A little too tall for my taste, but otherwise, not bad.....

A little too tall for my taste, but otherwise, not bad…..

Tall, dark and handsome, perhaps??  Well… if I were writing this ad, and I’m not, because I’ve already found Mr. Right, but if I were….  “Average height (because tall people make me nervous…), dark and handsome.  Must be smart, have a good sense of humour and athletic (not a superstar or anything – but someone I can play tennis and golf with for eternity…)  Must be willing to NOT sweat the small stuff, and definitely not take oneself too seriously.”  Didn’t I luck out 26 years ago (!!!! – has it been that long already?)

But this ad is not about what I want…. It’s about what Henry is looking for in a roommate at college.  On the residence website, he was asked to describe himself – an ad, as it were.

“I am extremely introverted and socially awkward.”  (Good start!!!  What a selling feature!!)    “I hate loud noises and can’t stand strong smells.”  (He does realize he is a part of male teenagerdom, doesn’t he?  Aren’t all teenage boys loud and smelly?)   “I am frequently claustrophobic and need quiet to do my homework.  I am interested in science, specifically, green technology, as well as astronomy, but not pseudo-science like astrology.  I am into PC gaming and all technology.”

OK then….  Any takers?  The drill on this website is that the kids can surf, and shop each other.  If they like what they see, they can hit the bid.  So Henry waits….  A day before the deadline, a kid picks Henry.  And then unpicks him – defriends him – 10 minutes before the deadline.  That’s cold….  Henry was insulted – and then worried.  Because at this point, the college picks someone for you.  “But what if they pick a douche to be my roommate?”  I’m trying not to laugh, and calm his anxieties – because it is no small thing for him to have to share a space with someone for the next 8 months.

One of my chief concerns about Henry living in residence was the question of a roommate.  He definitely has sensitivities and has very little tolerance for alternate lifestyles (all those that differ from his own….)  He needs downtime and quiet every single day – but will especially need it when he’s dealing with a new environment and all of the academic challenges ahead.  I was relieved during the college campus tour to see that the rooms in residence consisted of two separate bedrooms (with doors), which are connected by a common lounge area, kitchenette and a bathroom that the two share.  Thank Goodness…. I wouldn’t have to make a request for him to have a room to himself (which I was fully prepared to do)….

The college has selected a roommate for him – Henry has not contacted him yet.  But we are talking this up as an exciting opportunity – a branching out – an important part of his college career – making new friends.  We will take it one step at a time – as we do with everything!  This kid doesn’t have to be Mr. Perfect – just perfect for Henry….

Graduation – A Catch 22

As I sat this morning, surfing the Web for sales, I realize I’ve been postponing this particular post…. (and I don’t even like to shop – even from the comfort of my own home!)  Graduation is tonight, and I am so conflicted.

Obviously, I am happy and proud with Henry’s achievements, as well as the countless others who contributed to his success.  At times, we weren’t sure whether or not he would even graduate from high school – or how long it might take him.  For his part, he is excited about the fall – college, residence, new friends…. But we are leaving a safe and happy place to enter the unknown, very adult world of college.

I ran into a group of friends this week on the street having coffee.  It went like this…  “How’s Henry?” they asked.  “Fine,” I said.  “He’s going off to college and living in residence this fall.”  “How will he be with that?” they asked.  “I think he’ll be fine – I hope so – we’ve set up a lot of support for him,” I say.  “How will you be?”…..  I realize in horror, that I’m perilously close to bursting into tears.  Thank God for my Maui Jims!  I haven’t been this emotional since I was 14, crossing over the threshold into “womanhood” (BTW, health class didn’t even come close to preparing me for the next 60 years….)  I manage to pull myself back from the brink of the cliff and tell them the in-house joke of the past couple of months.  I’ve been telling Brian (Left Brain), that come September, he’d better start paying more attention to me or I’m getting a dog for each room of the house!  He tells me not to threaten him….

So, with these mixed feelings, I am charging up the camera battery, checking the flash, ensuring I have waterproof mascara, and picking out an outfit that is comfortable, and not too hot (basically one of my menopausal uniforms…)

I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow….

Is The Bar Too High?


So… Henry is standing beside my chair (thankfully, before Game of Thrones starts!!!  I mean really!  What is happening with Tyrion??!!) and he is shifting from one foot to the next, as he tremulously says, “Mom?”  Now – I’m no genius – but I figure, something is up.

Indeed – he produced a math worksheet – God – I hate math word problems!!!  When are any of us ever going to have to manually figure out how to compound interest?!  Isn’t that one of the wonders of technology?  And if you have a child with a language based disability, math word problems are the dearth of our existence!!!!

Anyways, we worked through the problem.  But not before his anxiety started to ramp up and the shifting from one foot to the other became a frenzied dance.  And not in a “Dance like nobody’s watching” kind of way.

Next year, Henry is taking a foundation course at college (since he was in applied curriculum courses during high school), to get his university level english and math – and some sciences, because why not?  His eventual ambition is to take a course at The University of Ontario called Energy & Environmental Physics.  YIKES!!!!

Are we setting him up for failure?  Is the bar too high?

When John set off for university 2 years ago, it was to the same institution where some poor kid jumped out of a window and killed himself.  Now – I’ve always been pretty open and frank with my kids – especially John – and we let him know that there was absolutely no problem that was unsolveable.  Still – it’s a fairly scary thing as a parent to worry about whether or not your child is suffering in silence.  (Check out http://www.thejackproject.org to see the good work they are doing to open up the conversation about mental health).

I have asked Henry’s teachers repeatedly whether they think he can succeed in this program.  They assure me that his work ethic, organizational skills, enthusiasm and desire to succeed will get him through.  I know all these things about him…  Am I being a shitty parent worrying that he might not be able to do this?  I don’t want to be a Gloomy Gus Naysayer… my parents were like that – it was all about having a marketable skill.  That’s all fine – but, if you hate what you’re doing, how marketable are you going to be?  It’s a long life and everyone should have the privilege of pursuing their passions.

So – although we are setting up every conceivable support system that I and the team at Durham can think of to help Henry succeed, there is always a Plan B.  We’ve already set him up with tutors; he might have to take a reduced course load…  If he finds the math and science courses are too tough, then we will look at alternative courses that he might be interested in….

I guess the point is, it is not Brian and I who are setting that bar higher and ever higher.  It is Henry!  And like the cushiony pad under the high jump bar, we will be there to cushion his fall – if there is one.  One thing is certain – we will always, always be on the sidelines cheering him on until our voices are hoarse….