The Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 21, 2022

At the last minute, a scheduling conflict resulted in Beckett’s booster shot appointment having to be canceled last week. It was interesting to see how he handled the change of plans.

The 13-year-old kid was disappointed. He wanted his shot. It seemed he would have preferred getting stuck over just about anything except a sports game, which was the conflict that won out.

In his simple teen way, he views getting vaccinated as his best way to not get sick.  It’s a simple view, one he has developed on his own.

As a parent of any headstrong teen knows, kids form their own opinions and oftentimes they come about as a direct opportunity to refute their parents’ positions on things. We insisted on the first two shots and asked for his feedback on if he wanted the booster now or to wait. He wanted it as soon as possible.

In this case, we are on the same page, which he begrudgingly accepts as fine.

Because of my job, I follow the Associated Press Stylebook page on Facebook. A post this week caught my attention. It read, “When possible, avoid the terms special needs and special education. While they remain in wide use in education and law, many view them as euphemistic and offensive. Instead, aim to be specific about the needs or services in question.”

As the dad of a son with several disabilities, including Autism and Apraxia, I find the need to clarify this silly. Equally foolish were 100-plus comments on the subject, including one educator who said the new term is “Exceptional Student Education” or another who said, “In Dubai the phrase is ‘people of determination.”

Some head scratchers here in my opinion. I don’t give much thought to how describe my 12-year-old son. It’s best for me to just be simplistic. I do not find it offensive to describe him as special needs, on the autism spectrum, autistic or disabled. He’s all of them. I’m not sensitive about it.

For instance, when we recently signed Carson up for an adaptive ski program in Vermont, I have no problem detailing what his differences are for the people who will be working with him. He has special needs including being nonverbal, requiring assistance with many tasks and needs supervision and encouragement to follow orders.

The stated concern over labeling I suspect did not originate with parents of special needs kids. In general, those of us in this world are too busy focusing on keeping a complicated life as simple as possible for our kid, and us, to have those sorts of worries. Instead, let me take some time to shine a light on some unique positives of everyday life with our Carson.

  • On a cold weekend night recently, Pam opted to stay home with Carson while I took Beckett to an indoor soccer game. As I was leaving, she was bringing out games and puzzles for them. By the time I had gotten to the game, she had sent me a picture of a 150-piece puzzle he had completed. Five minutes later, another picture came of him putting together a 3D puzzle of a basketball with a message from her saying he won’t let me help. He’s incredibly independent and focused at times, especially when it’s something he enjoys.
  • One morning I came upon Carson asking me with his iPad to download something called Blooket. I regret my initial reaction, one rooted in fatigue over technology downloads for iPads and game consoles. I quickly learned it was a trivia platform he picked up at school and was a fun way to review topics as well as learn about new subjects. I eagerly created him an account and watched him skillfully play numerous games, all of which seemed to be preparing him for Jeopardy. I was so impressed by what he knew and how well he read and answered the questions.
  • Early one morning I came across a note in the kitchen written out from him, “Create for me a YouTube Channel, okay?” This sort of expressive communication coming from our nonverbal son is a big deal. I told him I loved his note and he handed me his iPad. I told him in a few minutes because I wanted to ask his big brother what Carson really wanted.

There was no way I was going to create a channel for him to post videos on his own. Beckett said he just wanted to have his own account so he could view videos and comment as himself. Overhearing the conversation, Carson came in shaking his head yes, pointing to the fact his brother’s Google account was on his iPad. I have no idea how it got there.

When I went over the rules with him, Carson seemed to get it all. He was not interested in posting and sharing videos. He just wanted his brother’s name off his iPad. One thing I know is he’s smarter than he lets on. I think he likes when people underestimate him.

  • A calculator fascinates him. He has always loved numbers. He prefers math classes to just about every subject. Several teachers over the years have remarked how his math skills are above average. Through distance learning, we were able to see his math brain at work.

I remember the first time he came upon my calculator on my phone. He was probably 5 years old and he just started tapping away and laughing whenever he created a big number or caused a function resulting in a lot of digits. He still does that today.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.