Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four Feet, Ten Inches of Brave

 Last night, John brought us information on a Science project he has due next week. He asked if we could help him research and put it together.

Looking over the information and the rubric, I was struck speechless. The students were given a choice of two projects... The first is to do a Cell Analogy using 10 of the 11 organelles. The___ is like the ___ because... Then each analogy needs to be illustrated.

The second choice is to do a report (which will be read to class) and a visual aid on a genetic disorder. How and when the disorder was discovered, how it affects a person and how it is treated. It should also include pictures of characteristics of the disorder or any pictures that go along with it.

John chose the latter. His choice of subject? Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Wanting to research ASD doesn't surprise me. Using the context of a school assignment to justify it also doesn't surprise me. Choosing to stand up in a class which includes kids who have been calling him 'retard', who have egged him on when he has outbursts and then tease him and who have (as kids in groups tend to do) shown little to no compassion or understanding... and seek to teach them something about himself is quite simply the gutsiest thing I can imagine for him to do. I'm in awe.

And a little scared. I'm the queen of 'what ifs'. What if it backfires? What if the pressure is too much and he melts down before or during the report? What if one of the little jerks in class decides to spout off in the hallway between class?

But what if he gets through it? What if he speaks with confidence, giving examples of other pretty awesome people with ASD? What if one or two of his classmates learn something and grow a little tolerance and understanding? What if the sheer ballsiness of a decision to stand up for himself in this way earns the respect of those teachers who still look at him as a whiny, spoiled child? What if he learns some wonderful things about himself and can stand a little taller, with a little more pride?

I'm cheering him on.

And I hope to stand up to a few things in my own life.

Kiddo, to call you an inspiration is an understatement. Keep being you. "Teh Awesome"