Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Smart Cookie

photo from flickr.com by Millie
By the time Chase started middle school my file of paperwork regarding his health and education could create a how-to manual: How to Grow your Child from Seed. It’s an entire volume of clinical studies: doctor records, school reports, and special education plans. I won’t throw them away because our Chase is a fascinating fellow. I’m always looking for ways to understand him.
Now I’m reviewing one document, which summarizes the many evaluations Chase had prior to age 13. One study from second grade brings back difficult memories. Mildly retarded.  Before this study, I believed his delays were due to autism—that autism was his only issue. I was wrong. Along with an intelligence test, a nonverbal test was given. Results confirmed two issues: autism and mental retardation. 
There had been some discussion about middle school, whether or not Chase was ready—physical versus mental age. I had been in denial about my son growing into a man. I tried to ignore the clues, but eventually I had to answer the question, Where did that mustache come from? 

A psychologist had concluded that Chase’s placement in a 7th grade special day class appeared to be appropriate. Fifteen students in all made up his class. I met their teacher, Ms. Hanson. A patient woman with a plan, she had developed a positive reinforcement program that involved cookies for good behavior. Perfect. What kid doesn’t like cookies? 

Chase’s favorite subject had been math. He knew his multiplication tables by heart, but he lost track when it came to problems with two and three place numbers like 146 X 17. We tried division too, a good review for me, but not so much for Chase. The concept was too advanced. I started to realize the extent of his disability when I helped him with homework; he had trouble retaining information. We solved problems one day and he forgot how the next. This was frustrating at times, but we kept at it until his worksheets were complete.
One day I asked Ms. Hanson, “How can this be helping Chase? He doesn’t seem to understand.”
“As long as he’s willing to try, why not? Every day he wants to take home extra worksheets.”
“You mean more than what is required for homework?”
“Yes. He seems to enjoy the practice.”
I didn’t let on how much time I had spent helping him. While we talked, my eyes drifted around the room and settled on a package of cookies left open on a counter. “Ms. Hanson, does Chase earn extra cookies for the work he turns in?”
“Sure. All the kids do.”
I left the classroom feeling duped. My son was one smart cookie. He was using me to help score extra treats.


barb bits said...

A comment emailed to me by Donna:

Your writing is beautiful, present, and compelling. Thank you once again for sharing these intimate thoughts.

Donna: I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the lovely comment. Barb

barb bits said...

A comment emailed from Lori:

Very cute.
Looking forward to reading about Chase eventually reaching the age he is now
And all his accomplishments along the way.

Thanks, Lori: Eventually I will get to Chase's adult age. These are-for now-memoir pieces that will make up a book about raising Chase. Barb

patsyann@sonic.net said...

Chase IS a smart cookie. Great post.

barb bits said...

Thanks, Patsy. I'm glad you stopped by and laughed. Chase did love his cookies, and he knew how to get them.

barb bits said...

Little emails from followers:

From Liz: Loved it!

From Nan: Nice.