If you were asked to describe your eight year old little boy, what would you be saying?
I’d hazard a guess you’d be mentioning the fact that they’re addicted to technology, never without an iPad, computer or other piece of technology in hand, head buried in it at the expense of the rest of the world around them.
You’d be regaling stories of how you have to say things umpteen times, and only when the dreaded slow count to three gets to two and a half do they acknowledge your presence, to then completely ignore you until you’ve told them at least another two times.
It goes without saying that you will inevitably be pulling your hair out at the trail of disaster that they leave in their wake for you to clear up, as you obviously have nothing better to do, and after all can’t you see that they are busy on the iPad?
The homework heartbreak will rear its ugly head, clearly you are the worst parent in the world for forcing your little angel to spell out ten words or read a few pages out of a book, after all they have just had a full day at school ignoring their teacher and working to their own agenda.
Then after force feeding them food they hate (but loved last week) you can look forward to finishing the day shoehorning them into the dreaded shower (but I had one yesterday??), only to end up getting wet yourself when you end up having to drag them out as they generally take the piss messing around in order to delay bed time.
I’m sure you’ll also have a smattering of positives to throw in as well, how loving they are, especially when they want something, how talented they are with their particular love of sport or music for example, the way they can just look at you and make you laugh, even when you’ve had the worst day (possibly caused by them!) or how despite all their misdemeanours they are still somehow able to get their own way and wrap you round their little finger with a cheeky little smile.
So what’s the point of this insight into an eight year olds life? Well Tina asked me to write a piece on how I see Joseph, so bearing that remit in mind and what I have just written, let’s go down the check list and see where Joseph scores.
Addicted to technology, iPad, phone etc ✔
Listens to bare minimum ✔
Only responds to 3 counts at very last moment ✔
Still probably need telling a few more times ✔
Happy to trash the house then wander off ✔
Hates homework/spelling/reading ✔
Food roulette depending on wind direction ✔
Gets annoyed at shower, life, rules! ✔
Positives from earlier paragraph ✔
So as you can see, Joseph ticks all the boxes for your standard run of the mill eight year old, not once have I mentioned autism, because as I see it Joseph is first and foremost a little boy, and a fantastic one at that.
He hasn’t learned all the skills that an eight year old needs to get out of trouble, such as telling some fantastical story as to how something has happened, and how it’s not really his fault, but that’s not a bad thing. His mum is an honest person, brutally sometimes, I often wish she’d learn the art of sugar coating herself, but unfortunately that appears to be ignored. Maybe that switch in Joseph’s brain hasn’t clicked yet, or alternatively he could be playing the long game and just building a foundation of ‘honest Joseph’, so later down the line and the big shit happens no one will question his version of events as he always tells the truth. Who knows?
Now I realise some will be reading this and say that’s all well and good but you can’t ignore the autism, and that’s true. I’m not ignoring the autism, it will make life’s journey for Joseph probably harder than it needs to be or I would want it to be for him. However the support he has around him will take a lot of that weight off his shoulders, and I can assure you, Tina turns into some sort of transformer superhero when it comes to fighting Joseph’s corner, no one will get one over on him I can promise you that.
This has already been shown in Joseph’s development so far; he is doing well at school, and as was said in the previous blog, he is an extremely popular member of the school. He is working hard at the work he is set, and although I’ve no doubt he finds it either difficult or boring or both (which eight year old doesn’t?, he still manages to bring the goods when required; his spelling is already better than mine!
Targets and expectations are great, but as I’ve always said, in any class or school the range of abilities will be varied. But if every child is trying their hardest and working to the best of their ability what more can you ask for?
No one knows the future; we can only surmise what may lie ahead, and prepare as best we can. But for now he’s at a stage of his life that for most of us looking back was probably one of the best, Joseph is an eight year old boy who’s carefree, got the dance moves of Beyoncé, music in his soul and has an infectious laugh, who wouldn’t want that?