Mar 10, 2014 0 Share

Fit as a Fiddle

Illustration of man holding tablet with thumbs-up sign.

Last week, Cameron had an interview with the director of a postsecondary program we are considering. The interview was done via Skype. I was a little nervous about how this would go. Cameron tends to surprise me in the interview process, and usually I’m pleasantly surprised, but not always. Adding Skype to the interview mix made me even more apprehensive. How can you make good eye contact with a computer screen? If you look at the person’s eyes you’re Skyping with, you definitely won’t be looking directly into the web cam. It turns out, my apprehension was unnecessary, as the interview seemed to go pretty well.

The interview was to be one-on-one with the director, but of course I sat within earshot. Cameron didn’t know I was close by, and he was flying solo. We had practiced using Skype and interviewing, and I was happy to hear some of the same questions I had prepped him for were actually asked by the director. There was one question I had forgotten to ask in our prep work: “What is the nature of your disability?”

When Cameron was asked about his disability, there was a pregnant pause. The director offered a clarification of the question. “Many of our students come to us with diagnosis such as dyslexia, AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome …”

“Nope, I don’t have any of those. I’m fit as a fiddle.”

How can you help but smile at Cameron’s response? But at the same time … really?! I thought I had been doing such a good job at coaching Cameron about what to say regarding his challenges! I’ve given him speeches to use when he asks for priority boarding at the airport. When he was seeing a psychotherapist, I asked the therapist to work on a script Cameron can use to explain himself if he gets in a situation where he needs help but doesn’t understand the person offering assistance. I even asked for self-identification to be added to his Transition goals in his IEP. But Cameron still seems to be missing some (or most) of the language around who he is and how that’s different from a lot of folks. Or was this just a question out of context as far as Cameron was concerned? After all, he wasn’t boarding an airplane, or asking someone for assistance, so perhaps he just hasn’t generalized those “scripts” as a statement about his permanent state of being.

I’ve asked Cameron in the past if he recognizes the fact that he’s different. He says that he does, but does he really? Cameron’s differences become more apparent to him when he sees things like his younger cousin getting his driver’s license. It seems to bother Cameron when he starts to put an age with certain accomplishments, and then realizes he’s behind the curve. Oddly enough, spending an extra year in high school hasn’t seemed to bother him. (I’m sure it would though, if that younger cousin were to graduate before Cameron.)

I’m glad Cameron sees himself as being “fit as a fiddle.” And I’m glad that the programs we’re considering have “self-advocacy” built into their curriculums. There is a lot Cameron needs to learn about himself. I’ve been his safety net for his entire life. But it’s now time for Cameron to learn about self-reliance, and as a result, perhaps he will learn more about himself than even I know. Nothing would make me happier.