Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yes He Can

My son is really enjoying this Ultimate Frisbee. What I had assumed was a pick-up game has evolved into an intercollegiate team, and there is a game tonight against another local school. Though the game roster is limited, he intends to go to support the team and he will continue to practice with them.

But it wasn't all good news. In the matter-of-fact way he has of speaking, he announced to me that he was not sure he could handle the workload of his chosen major (Theater). In addition to the class work, he will be required to have 50 hours of practical work on shows, and he didn't see how he could do it. Not for want of trying -- recall that he was replaced as an assistant Stage Manager for a live production early in the semester. I could not tell if he was looking for an excuse to change majors; if so, I would not be the person to give it to him.

I pointed out that any major would be difficult and would require a tremendous amount of work on his part. I reminded him that most days when we talked he assured me that he did not have a lot of homework. So was he fretting about the potential for a heavy workload? I suggested he back-burner this decision, and cross that bridge when he comes to it. Clearly the workload right now is manageable.

I think one of the things that precipitated this crisis of confidence is that he is currently working on a sewing assignment for a Stage Technology class. Because of fine motor delays, my son has used a keyboard for written assignments almost since he learned his letters; it doesn't surprise me that he's having trouble with sewing. But he is also letting this experience cloud his judgment. He seems ready to give up over -- not even one class, but one assignment in one class. Moreover, this was the same class he had come out of only a week or so ago, when he called to tell me it was so good we should be paying more tuition (gee, thanks, Stretch).

I shared with him that he was used to having a real support net that was always under him for the past twelve years -- so unobtrusive that he barely knew it was there -- until now, when it's gone. He just said to me that maybe he was over-confident about being ready for college and "should have taken a gap year."

NO!! I know he is ready for this. But the disability for which he received support services all those years is not going away. The only difference now is that he has to ask for that support. Once it's set up, I think it will be invisible once again, a part of the fabric of his life. The college has a disability services office that has his most recent evaluation (mid-junior year); and my son's academic advisor happens to be the teacher for that Stage Tech class. I told him that either of those would be good places to start when he was ready to ask for help.

He called earlier today to say he was going to the Office for Students with Disabilities and "what do you think I should say?" I offered some openings, which is usually all he needs: Tell them you are feeling so overwhelmed by the workload in general and the sewing assignment in particular, that you are questioning whether you can get through this at all. Tell them you've had great people to work with in the past, including a private therapist and a school counselor in addition to academic support. Ask for direction.

Unfortunately he just called again to tell me that he could not set up an appointment with anyone until November 3; sarcastic remark: "that was helpful." He does have a card and phone number for one of the people who works in that office that his Dad got a couple of weeks ago and I told him he might want to call that person and ask if there's any hope of getting to talk to him sooner. Again, in his matter-of-fact manner, my son let me know that he had set up an appointment with his faculty advisor for tomorrow at one. Perfect! He seems to have everything pretty well under control; but he either doesn't realize it or he doesn't believe it.


Anonymous said...

As I read your posts, I feel like I'm getting a preview of my future! My son, 13, was diagnosed with NVLD at 6. We are currently plowing through 7th grade one day at a time--sometimes one minute at a time. I enjoy reading your empowering approach as you guide your son. I would be interested in hearing more thoughts on how you have boosted your son's confidence as he progressed through middle and high school.

I laughed to myself as I read, "Yes He Can". Yesterday, my son wanted to transfer to another school because his teacher made him right down the "rules" associated with a set of math problems.

PatK said...

I recall that being a particularly difficult time for my son, less from an academic standpoint than a social one. Let me give that some thought.