Monday, May 24, 2010

Moving Right Along

Things work out a certain way for a reason. He did not land any of the local retail positions for which he applied. However, my son was contacted last week by the person who schedules umpires, and he picked up two games already (one got rained out, but still…!). Even if he gets assigned to five or six more between now and when the youth baseball season ends, that would be enough spending money to get through the summer.

He has also reestablished his account at the local Y, and has gone to work out there a few times. Driving lessons continue as well. He has enough going on to keep him from getting bored.

All of his spring grades have been posted and once again, his grade point average was over the minimum requirement for the school’s Dean’s List.

As Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in His Heaven, All’s right with the World.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to Apply For a Job

This past weekend my son and I went for a walk toward our local downtown area, and stopped at several places along the way to inquire about summer jobs. We discovered that most were not hiring, but he left applications anyway; three took online applications; and one suggested that he come back during the week. Later I went grocery shopping and put in an online application on his behalf at that store, where I was told they might still be hiring for the summer. In addition, he left a voicemail message for the person in charge of hiring umpires for our town’s youth baseball program. My son had worked in that capacity for six years and it was great experience for young people.

Here is the script we were following:

First, know that you can ask just about anyone about jobs, and they will always be happy to say: Let me find out; or let me get the manager.

Walk in and say “Hi – I was wondering of you are hiring either full or part time.” Whoever you ask might say, “I’m not sure; let me check with the manager.” Another possible response is, “Yes, let me get you an application; [or] “Yes, you can apply on line at www…” Finally, they might give the dreaded answer “No, I’m sorry. We’re fully staffed right now.” We also got one response of “I’m not sure, please stop back during the week.”

Having done that, the hardest part is over (for a while). Once you have the applications in front of you, either print copy (WRITE NEATLY!) or online, you can just fill it out and send it – electronically, in the mail, or go back and drop it off. Although it might be disappointing to get “No” for an answer, there should be no more anxiety-producing requirements until you hear back from a company that would like to interview you; a bridge we will cross when we get to it!

I don’t know whether my son will get any of these open pursuits, but I am very proud of the way he handled it. It is very difficult for neuro-typical people to cold-call for a job. He discussed it with his Dad and they came up with the idea of a little extra help. My son asked if I wouldn’t mind going with him to these establishments. Neuro-typical people might be nervous about walking in and asking about employment; but it is likely that they would know more-or-less what to say and how to say it. For my son, our one hour walk was just another coaching session, and I think he got a lot out of it in terms of how to approach this demanding undertaking.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Start of the Summer

Thus far, it’s been an uneventful week. My son and I have talked about whether he will apply for jobs. The conclusion was it would be nice to have some spending money, but we also talked about how hard it can be just to walk into an establishment and ask if they are hiring. He went into a local video store on Tuesday with that intent and told me at dinner that evening that he “chickened out.” I can completely empathize with that feeling – one that I remember well not just from my own teen days, but at every job turning point in my life. I think the job search was most difficult after I completed my MBA, because the process was so different for me than it had been eight years earlier after undergraduate school.

I’m finding the thought of him not earning any spending money more than a little stressful and I let him know. I was also honest in telling him that Dad and I are not on the same page about this.

In the meantime, my son has had two driving lessons and seems to be doing well. He is definitely committed to getting his license, so we will get him as much road time as we can with this teacher between now and mid-July when his permit expires. So there will constructive activities going on over the summer; the only difference is they will be expenses instead of revenues!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Final of the Semster

By the time I post this, my son will be done with his last final exam. He has also nearly completed the two take-home exam papers that are due next week. He hopes to wrap them up by tomorrow and has, in the end, decided to come home on Saturday. I think part of the rationale is that those who are staying around and finished are going to be partying up a storm, and my son would rather not.

I am a little concerned that in his rush to complete everything, he won’t do his best work. During high school, he was always allotted additional time for tests, yet rarely used it. As one of his specialists said, “He should.” So I hope he has enough persistence left to read through the two papers and make final edits before he sends them off by email to his professors.

I don’t really know what else to say at this point, now that my son has all but completed a year of college, and extremely successfully. I expect the summer – learning to drive, living back at home and figuring out how to spend down time – will bring new challenges. And no doubt he will rise to them.

So my son’s final is today and this is also my final daily blog entry for a while. I know I will not be as diligent about writing over the next three months; I will try and enter something at least weekly. To my daily readers: thank you for your encouragement. If you think of anything you think I might address, feel free to let me know – other than that, I expect a quiet, fun (!) summer.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reading Day

That makes is sound so…collegiate. Reading days are those days between the last day of class and the first day of taking finals (“writing finals”) when you’re supposed to be preparing. Or maybe it makes it sound British!

My son has two final exams on Friday, which he’s already been studying for and has two take-home exams that are due next week. He’s fairly confident that he will be able to finish the writing by Saturday afternoon. He is now trying to decide whether to rush home then, or relax and stay over until Sunday as his roommate and some others are doing. Finals continue into next week, but it does not appear that there are too many students who will still be there by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last night the Frisbee team got together for a last pick-up game. There will be opportunities for him to play locally during the summer as there is a metro league.

Speaking to my son last night, he had mixed feelings about winding down – although I thought he’d be eager to come home, he seems to be wavering now and may well stay until Sunday. Despite the complications of the first semester, and the fact that he was less than impressed by his courses and professors in his second semester, the fact that he’s in no rush to get home would seem to indicate that he’s made some social connections. I’d call that a good start.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Learning How to Say "No"

There are a lot of reasons people find it difficult to say no when asked a favor: they are nice and want to accommodate the person making the request if possible (no matter how well they know the person); they are seeking recognition and a higher profile and believe that saying yes is a way to get it; they are too polite to say no when they really want to say no; they want to be liked or at least they don’t want to be disliked; they find it easier to say yes than to open up a potential argument or injured feelings by saying no.

I could go on, I’m sure. This week one of the guys on my son’s floor in the dormitory had a laptop crisis – his was apparently broken (although how you “break” a laptop, short of dropping it, is beyond me). I don’t know if he asked to borrow the computer of any of the other fellows on the floor, but the one who said “yes” was my son. When I spoke to him yesterday afternoon, he told me that someone was using it, and he said he hoped nothing happened to it. I suggested to my son that if he was worried about it (and I was a bit concerned myself), he should go to the kid and “Just say you have two take-home exams that you need to get started on that you hadn’t thought of when you said yes.”

I wasn’t sure whether he was comfortable with this partial truth – he does have two take-home exams, but was not ready to start working on them – and I don’t know what he ended up saying to his neighbor. But not much later he had the laptop back. I was definitely relieved that it was back in his possession; but equally I was proud that he spoke up for himself to get it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Resources Firming Up

Last night a local school district hosted a Vendor Fair for special education families. I attended with one goal in mind – that of hooking up with our state commission that serves the disabled community after high school. The fact that my son is doing so well in college despite some setbacks is amazing – but one thing I’ve learned already (and he has as well) is that there will always be some need for some, albeit minimal, support. He is comfortable now, but he is not looking further than next year. My concern is whether he will have the life skills to live independently and get and hold meaningful employment upon graduation.

This agency deals with disabilities that run the gamut from profoundly developmentally disabled, to less significant learning disorders that still interfere with quality of life. There is great demand for these services but the representative of the commission, after hearing the short story of my son’s neurological issues, was fairly confident that he would qualify for support. He told me who to call and suggested that I do so sooner, rather than later to start the clock running on the three month wait time.

I’ve already made the call and we are expecting to hear from them in early August.

BONUS: I happened upon another vendor, the owner of an adaptive driving school; I have been playing phone tag with him for the past week or so. I was able to schedule my son’s first road lesson and the initial evaluation for next Monday morning.

Monday, May 3, 2010

One and Four

At least I think that was the final result – one win and four losses. My son drove down with other members of the team, and my husband met him at the field, watched some of the tournament games and they came home together on Saturday night.

My husband confirms that the biggest problem the team seems to have is a lack of organization: players were running onto the field, substituting themselves; if a player needed a break, anyone on the sideline would just run in. You snooze, you lose and all that!

But my son got some playing time in and it was a beautiful, though warm, day. Their team won one game and played hard against the other teams. You couldn’t ask for much more (well, you could ask…but you probably wouldn’t get it!).