Monday, January 20, 2014

No More Zeros

So Tommy sometimes won't turn in his assignments at school.

It's frustrating.

There are two reasons for this 1) he has social anxiety that comes with his Aspergers so if he's confused about something, he stays quiet and just doesn't do the work and 2) he's lazy.

I get that it's tough for him to speak but he cannot and I will not let him use Aspergers as an excuse. Yes, the teachers are aware that he has Aspergers and yes, he does have an IEP. But the teachers are not there to babysit. They can't keep asking one student to turn in their work or ask if he understands what's happening because guess what, they have 20 other students for like 7 periods a day.

And so, when I saw on his report card that he got A's and B's and oh, what's this a 74 in an elective class called Bookmania, I got annoyed. I contacted the teacher and asked what was up and she was said that Tommy didn't do the 3 journal entries that she assigned, therefore he received 3 0s. Had he done his journal work, he'd have gotten an A in the class and been on the Honor Roll.

I was annoyed and I knew I had to talk to Tommy. This was unacceptable. He knows better! How can he NOT turn something in? Doesn't he break out in hives? Or maybe that's just me. I thought people with Autism wanted to follow the rules. But then again, if you have social anxiety, maybe the rules are no longer important if you are able to stay silent and not risk embarrassing yourself.

I knocked on Tommy's door and said we needed to talk. He was busy playing Animal Crossing on his 3DS.

"Hold on. I'm catching bugs," he said.

"Um no. We need to talk about the 74 you got," I answered, taking his game.

Tom bit his lip. He knew what we were about to discuss.

"Why didn't you do your journal assignments?" I asked.

Tommy shrugged. Tears immediately welled up in his eyes. "I didn't understand.." he muttered.

"You can't just not do something. You need to ask questions," I reminded him. "If you're confused, ask questions. If you don't want to do it in front of people, wait until after class."

"But then I might be late for my NEXT class," Tommy said, twisting his fingers nervously.

"If you're confused, tell me, and I can ask the teacher. But don't just refuse to turn something in. You would have gotten an A in the class," I explained.

A tear slipped down Tommy's cheek. He doesn't like disappointing people. "I just--"

Natalie ran in at that moment and pointed at Tommy. "There are fifteen people in this house and you're the only one who has to make trouble."

I rolled my eyes. "No, there's not, Natalie and that's a quote from Home Alone. Go play."

"Yeah, go," Tommy huffed. He's not a fan of his sister. Maybe when they're older they'll get along, but for now she's much too loud and bossy for him. He would have nothing to do with her if he could, but she sort of pushes her way into his life.

"The cold never bothered me anyway!" Natalie snapped, walking out of the room. She slammed the door on her way out.

"She's so dumb," Tommy grumbled.

"Don't call people dumb," I lectured. "She's quoting Frozen now. It probably means I let you guys watch too much television, but well, Mommy needs some peace too. Anyway," I said, because Tommy started reaching for his iPod Touch, "no more zeros. If you do, I'm taking all your electronics away. You know better. You can DO better. You can DO this." I placed my hands on Tommy's shoulders and looked him in the eyes. "You can do this." I felt like Denzel Washington talking to the football team in Remember The Titans.

"Um, okay?" Tommy answered, because he wasn't sure what else to say. He's not a fan when people look him in his eyes.

"So no more zeros?" I questioned.


"No more zeros? Say it with me 'no more zeros! No more zeros!'"

Tommy's eyes darted from left to right. He finds me bizarre. "No more zeros?"

"And if you're confused, you'll...." I trailed off.

Tommy sighed. "Ask questions."

"If you're too nervous to ask a question tell me and I'll...."

"E-mail the teacher."

"No more zeros!" I said one last time.

"Geez. Okay. No more zeros. Can I play my game?"

"You're so lucky I'm not a Tiger Mom," I said, handing him his 3DS.

So fingers crossed that there aren't anymore zeros and that my motivational speech helped him out.


  1. You nailed it! It sounds to me like you are doing everything you can to encourage him! :) I am CRACKING UP at Natalie and her movie quotes! That is awesome.-Ashley

  2. great parenting moment.

    as for the zeros thing, my step son is 13, and got a D in a class because he didnt turn something in (and he does not have anything wrong with him). if you asked him why he didnt turn something in, he would say the teacher never asked for it. that might fly in elementary school but he is in middle school now (8th grade actually) i feel like he is going to get lost in high school.

  3. As a SpEd teacher, bless you for holding your child accountable, instilling self-advocacy, and recognizing that teachers have other students. Tommy can go to his case manager too, to get assignment info - that's a good relationship to cultivate.

  4. I think it's something boys go through at that age too - when mine was in middle school he went through this thing of not turning things in - particularly if it was a class/teacher he didn't care for; drove me batty.

    Keep holding him accountable and reiterating how important his grades are to his future and he'll get there.

  5. It's so tough when your child has a different way of approaching things or thinking of things. I'm like you, I do not want my kiddo to blame his challenges or make them a crutch. I tell him, hey, you may have to work a little harder to make good choices, but you CAN do it. I think in the end we are teaching them that they are capable of a lot more than they think and it will teach them to work hard in life.

  6. Hi Amber
    First of all I am glad your blog is up and running again for I really enjoy reading it. Second of all, I hope you got my email.And Finally, I applaud you on your parenting skills you are a very good mother and that your kids are like real true kids which I like. There are no fakeness or show offy about your kids and that your writing about your family is a clear definition of what a typical young family is like with young school aged kids. I also have a blogger account here too under Petropower66 its nothing exciting in there compared to your blog but feel free to drop by view and note there if you wish but no obligation. Just happy that your blog is up and running again. I look forward to reading your blog everyday. I also left you some tweets on your twitter page too. Oh before I forget to say that I to agree and like how you teach Tommy that he still has to be responsible and not use his disability as an excuse or crutch. Your an awesome mum Amber mind you your not perfect nobody is and there is no such thing is the perfect mum, but the important thing is that you obviously are doing your job as a parent and your doing a good job at it too.

  7. Hi Amber
    Sorry for another note but I also forgot to make a movie suggestion for your kids to watch. Have they seen the movie Mrs.Doubtfire? Oh and Tommy would also like MyGirl2 the sequel. Also another good movie I think your kids would like especially Tommy is the School Of Rock. I know this note is not related to your recent entry but just wanted to pass along the movie suggestion.

  8. I'm sorry to be cracking up at Natalie's Home Alone and Frozen quotes (so well-rounded). I do understand this is tough. Hoping for no more zeroes for you!

  9. Not gonna lie - journal writing is tough!!! My youngest son used to refuse to do it - he couldn't (or wouldn't) think of anything quickly enough so he just didn't do it.
    Natalie makes me laugh!!!
    And, it cracks me up that you say that Tommy thinks you are bizarre - I would say that your job is done!!!

  10. I hated my sister until I moved out and we weren't in each others face constantly. My kids fight all the time. I love that Natalie quotes movies. I do that all the time

  11. It can be so hard to hold your kids accountable for their actions and you just nailed it! Sounds like you have some fairly amazing kids, both Tommy and the future Movie Star :)

  12. Ha - love that your daughter runs in with movie quotes. that's so my daughter too. except she would say the "grab my butt will ya" one. completely inappropriate to the situation.
    I think you gave a great motivational speech. my son is shy too when it comes to speaking up in class. he'd rather get a Fail. So we have to remind him that there are other options.

  13. That was a great pep talk! I'm glad you're pushing him, but just the right amount.

  14. This reminds me so much of my mom giving pep talks to my brother (even though I really doubt he was listening)! Had to share my little flashback...but I have my fingers crossed for no more zeros!!

  15. I love how you encouraged him! And your daughter is so adorable, running in with movie quotes, haha. I hope things go well with his next report card. :)

    The Girly Gamer

  16. i loved how you encouraged him! no more zeros!

    i laughed at your daughter's movie quotes. so cute.

  17. Frances is the same way. She frequently "forgets" to turn things in. The part that makes me so mad is that 99% of the time, she did the assignment, she either loses it or forgets to turn it in. I think you're doing a good job with Tommy.

  18. That was an awesome parenting moment! You seriously handled this so well.

  19. You handled it way better than I would have. My conversation would have probably started out with "What the heck are you doing?" Good job! You're a great example for all of us!

  20. I have that conversation more times than I can count!! Very good job on that - I think it will work out because you were direct and clearly explained what it is expected of him.

  21. You are a good mama. I definitely have days (okay almost all the time) where I need a break and let my kids watch too much TV. Too funny your daughter quotes movies all the time.

  22. I just love reading your blog. Honestly, you are such an incredible mother and I love your honesty.

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  24. TC hates disappointing me too. He has autism and I try to talk to him and tell him to look me in the eye and he really struggles with that!


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