Friday, September 16, 2011

Measurements and Assessments

Back to school seems to always be a gentle reminder of where things stand. By things I mean Sean -- where he fits in to the whole scheme of school and academics. He is now a fifth grader, entering his last year of elementary school and by almost every measurement, he is far behind the academic standards of a fifth grader.

I know that I am not supposed to measure Sean's growth and development by comparing him to his "typical" peers. Sean is by no means a "neuro-typical" child. I am reminded of this by his doctor, the occupational therapist, my husband and my own inner voice but it's hard not to think of where he could be if it weren't for autism shaking up his life and world.

Let's face it. We live in a world that ranks everything and celebrates winning and success. It's not a bad thing -- it's just the message that's out there. I have to remember that some successes aren't huge and enormous, that maybe Sean being able to pour syrup over his waffles all by himself or zip up his own coat and snap his hood are huge successes relative to our lives. It's progess, moving forward and growing -- a sense of independence.

It reminds me to keep perspective. It is just fine to do small things well. It is just as important. Mother Teresa's message was basically that -- "We can do no great things -- only small things with great love." Isn't that beautiful? It gives me a hope that it's not the task at hand that matters so much but rather how we carry ourselves through on that task, how we approach it, embrace it and lend heart and help to it.

So going forward I am going to let go of where my son falls on a bar graph or a pie chart -- and remember to focus on the boy he is rather than where he ranks or what percentile he falls. He is so much more than that. We all are, really.

This post is further "thinking" in regards to an article I wrote in Lifeclectic Magazine. Please check it out.