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Know Thyself

Thursday, 7 October 2010

He’s been clear from the very start. Outdoor Science School is a valuable experience. For other kids.

Beernut: We saw a video today about Outdoor Science School. I’m not going.
FrumeSarah: Why aren’t you going?
Beernut: Mo-om! There’s hiking at Science School. You know I don’t hike. And I don’t like being outdoors.

Now there’s hiking and then there’s hiking. According to the Outdoor Science School website, “our classrooms are outdoors on well-marked trails.” And the schedule does include a lot of hikes. Anywhere from one to THREE hikes each day. So for a self-proclaimed non-hiker, and one who doesn’t like being outside, this might be a problem.

One of the difficulties of having Asperger’s is that there is an illusion of competency. To the outside adult world, Beernut seems like a well-mannered, interesting young man. What the majority don’t see is he completely falls apart as soon as the school day ends. And that is already a vast improvement over last school year when the meltdowns often occurred at school.

Poppyseed: Well if Beernut isn’t going to Science School, then I’m not going when I’m in the fifth grade.
Beernut: No, Poppyseed, you’re going to go. It’s really interesting and you’ll have a lot of fun. It’s just not the right thing for me.

With three summers of camp under his belt, Beernut has a pretty good idea of what to expect while at Science School and while this is only a four day program, it is four, twenty-four hour days. Meaning — no down time from the constant barrage of sounds, expectations, new surroundings, and other external stimuli that can make life overwhelming for those on the Spectrum.

As his mother, I know that part of my job is to pry Beernut loose from his comfort zone and help him expand beyond that very limited place. It is also my job to protect him. And respect his emerging self-awareness. And not get caught up in the never-ending grief process of mourning the “normalcy” that is not to be.

How do I know what is the right decision?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 8 October 2010 4:06 am

    Certainly not an easy situation. Couldn’t Beernut only attend during the day? Let us know what happens in the end.

  2. Friday, 8 October 2010 12:25 pm

    i have no advice whatsoever. just a lot of resect for the pondering that you’re doing and how well you’ve taught beernut to know himself. that’s a skill that we could all use.

  3. Shellie Halprin permalink
    Friday, 8 October 2010 2:10 pm

    Only you guys can judge what is appropriate because you know your kids best. Brandon just wasn’t ready to drive at 16. He knew it and we knew it. Had I forced him because it was what other 16 year olds were doing, it would have been really unsafe for him and everyone else on the road. Even kids that aren’t on the Spectrum aren’t ready to leave home for 4 nights. We didn’t have outdoor science camp when we were growing up and we turned out okay.

  4. jae permalink
    Wednesday, 13 October 2010 11:04 pm

    Plenty of kids choose alternatives. These range from attending only the day portion (which won’t get Mr Beernut out of hiking) to choosing to go on campus inside other classes to choosing to complete the assignments with family and own-time field trips.

    My kids came home raving about the beads and medals they earned, the friends they made because they bonded over the “too long hike”. If these are not potential turn-ons for Beernut, choose another way to get the info-impact.if they are potential positive moments, then push. Don’t suffer over it-there’s plenty of other opportunities to force comfort zones!

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