Here in the House o’Layne, we are having a whopping one-week vacation (okay, maybe ten days) between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.
Next week, my younger son will be in 7th Grade. Smack dab in the middle of middle school.
Autistic folks in middle school are like middle schoolers everywhere, taken on a case by case basis. I spent many years teaching Sunday School to middle schoolers, as well as substitute teaching at that level. These are people with whom I am familiar. Autism, though, does add its own edge to the experience.
Since my son is going to a private school, he is not “mainstreamed” into a typical middle school culture. He is instead in class with young people much like himself, yet each as uniquely individual as can be. Popularity? Not an issue. Crushes? Oh, maybe, but with the huge differential in male-to-female population, it’s not surprising. The girls in his grade (there might be two) are not subject to the same attention as they might be in a “regular” public school. The boys don’t put one another down, there isn’t competition in athletics at this age (that I’m aware of, anyway), and it’s still very much each student for him/herself.
Still, I know my son and I know middle schoolers. These are kids who are dealing with hormones in their own ways, I’m sure. It’s just that a lot of the social insecurity that is often present at this age isn’t happening with these kids. Many of them are working hard just to maintain their behavior in class, perhaps, or stay focused during a lesson. Thankfully, there is no bullying, in his class. No social drama, either. As a mom, honestly, this is a relief.
According to my son, the hardest thing about middle school is that there is so much more work than there was before. The best thing is the free time, because he’s moved “beyond the whole recess thing.”
Is life ideal? No. He has a lot of concerns directly related to autism in addition to having concerns that any seventh-grade boy would have in dealing with authority, in self-acceptance, and even having mood swings. The trick is to recognize each turn for what it is and handle it appropriately.
I pray. A lot.
So while most of the people I know are relaxing comfortably here at the beginning of summer, or wondering what to do with kids home all day every day, I am prepping for the next school year. There will be new challenges for my son as well as new triumphs. In another year, he might get to start in on woodworking.
That would be awesome. 🙂