Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.




Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weston Learns About Love

My son Weston has been in love with Mercedes since they were in the second grade. She is a bright and pretty, young girl. It is not surprising that all of the sixth grade boys are in love with her. She is also very tolerant and it is this characteristic, above all, that has made her irresistible to Weston. She understands his sullen moods and quirky personality.


Lately, however, things are changing as they so often do in the middle school. With her pretty face and charming smile, Mercedes is becoming popular. She now hangs with a very cool crowd of mostly well liked and intolerant girls. Weston on the other hand, had a tough start to the year. His unusual behavior and testy temperment alienated him from his usual peers. He is no longer cool.


Weston also struggled to keep up in class and found himself failing most of his subjects. After several emergency IEP meetings, it was decided he needed more help and a smaller class size. Unfortunately, this type of classroom doesn't exist, except of course in the Compass room.

The Compass room is designed for children diagnosed specifically with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In fact, it was not until Weston obtained a "mild Asperger's" diagnosis, did he qualify to study here. He uses this room as a safe haven to retire to when he becomes emotionally overwhelmed.

He has also benefited from the social skills training group and the high school mentors, Kenny and Ian. He adores both of these young men who help him with homework and social development. He does not exactly fit into this classroom academically, however, needing more of an in depth and challenging curriculum.  So, the school and I arranged for him to spend time in both general classes and some extra time to catch-up and do homework and social skills development in the Compass room.

As you can imagine, Weston's time spent in the Compass room has made him doubly and triply uncool, especially to the popular girls. Mercedes, once the faithful and tolerant friend, has now found herself morally challenged by the popular girls. Crushed by the relentless social pressure of her new cool companions, she has started to shun Weston's friendship. He has noticed this change in Mercedes and it has wounded him deeply.

Weston and I have had many discussions about how difficult it is when a person is in love. We have talked about the importance of using your heart and your head when you are deciding upon an appropriate relationship. Weston has always struggled with this one (as we all do), telling me his head knows Mercedes may not be the right fit for him, but his heart is always overwhelmingly faithful to his "first love". He has always been willing to persevere.

Luckily, this year Weston has also been introduced to other children who struggle socially as he does in the classroom. One of them happens to be a very cute and sparkling young girl. Her name is Bridie. She is pleasant and perky. She is happy to engage with Weston and work on some of their home work projects together. This has had a miraculous effect on changing Weston's mind about Mercedes.
So perhaps not surprisingly, on Friday after school, Weston told me ...

"Mom, I think my heart has finally given up on Mercedes."

My heart hurts for my sensitive son, since it is never easy giving up on your very first love. But I think with Bridie's help, he just may recover sooner than he thinks.