The "helicopter parent" and Asperger's
You've heard of the term "helicopter mother" or "helicopter parent" before, right? The parent that "hovers" over their child, making sure that they are ok, making sure that everything in their child's life turns out ok, etc. I first saw something about this type of behavior on TV, where they were talking about this type of parent in relation to parents of college students who continue to be way too connected to their child after they leave home for college -- the parent will check in multiple times a day by cell phone, will continue to help the child with college papers and assignments, will give too much unwanted advice about social life, and on and on.
I think that parents of children who have a hard time in life tend to overcompensate by becoming a "helicopter parent." I know that I have. I've also thought that this was out of necessity -- because for the last two years, my son would continuously forget assignments, forget to study for tests, and just generally didn't completely have his act together due to his lack of ability to focus on things in school.
Last night I was watching a Tivo'd episode of Parenthood, the TV show that has a young male character who has Aspergers. I love watching the mother of this boy -- because I recognize the same tendency she has for hovering that I have. This show does such a great job at showing the concern this mother has for her son, and also the father's attempts at teaching the son social skills (lessons that often don't work as well in real life as they should). The episode I watched last night showed the young boy going BACK to be mainstreamed in a regular ed situation, after spending time in a school that catered to special needs kids. Mom was concerned with how he was socializing, and got off early from work so that she could observe him in school. As I was watching her do this, I was saying "No -- don't do it!!" out loud to the tv screen, because you had to know that early on, the boy would not be socializing all that well in the early days of a new school situation. Of course, she was heartbroken to see him sitting alone, reading a book during recess.
What really got to me, though, was the part of the show where the mother wrote nine emails in four days to the teacher, who was not returning her emails. Wow, that part sounded somewhat familiar, and although I have never written THAT many emails to one teacher, I have done my fair share of nine emails to nine teachers... once my son hit high school. I have definitely been the "net" for my son, catching missed assignments before they could be completely forgotten and therefore not counted. I have definitely been the liason between my son and his teachers, fleshing out exactly what an assignment was about when he couldn't seem to get the requirements of an assignment correct. Sound familiar?
The weird part of having meds that work this year, combined with the fact that our school district's new online grading system isn't up yet, is that I have been trying to NOT be the helicopter mom. I've been trying to step back and let my son handle things at school on his own. Man, that's hard. But it's also liberating... I cannot believe how much time I spent for the last two years, checking everything twice, making sure that my son was keeping up with his work. Now, he very much seems to be doing what he should. And I very much need to let him grow up and be in charge. I don't exactly know how he's doing without the online grading to constantly check like I did ALL THE TIME last year, but it's ok. I need to let it go, and to let him grow up. Especially since he's now a full head taller than I am....