Friday, June 22, 2018

Dean's 2017-2018 Year

This has been a year of real growth for Dean. It is such a contrast to last school year that was consumed with his depression and fear. This year Dean has coped with the hardship of being a special needs teenager (of course, every teen just wants to be normal and fit in) and is starting to realize that he can rise above labels and create his own destiny. 

He has worked hard on maintaining and growing friendships and has a small core group of friends that he doesn't see as often as he would like, but does see a few times a month. His core group of friends is 95% girl-based which seems to work out well for a person who needs to process his feelings and talk through social situations often. He has also had a girlfriend for the entire school year. His girlfriend is a sweet homeschooled girl who is a delight to have in our lives. They do not date but see each other in group settings, family settings and communicate through text daily. 
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Dean has found some solace in his art and enjoys taking classes with Miss Laura. He hopes to continue with her next year, although it might be on a private basis instead of in a group class because most of his art class will be returning to public school. His teacher says he has a wonderful eye for color combinations and I very much agree. He is still highly critical of his work and is sure that most people could do better than him. However, he doesn't throw all of his art away anymore and is allowing me to hang some of it in the house. 

Photography continues to be an interest of his, yet only with his iPhone. He has no interest in learning the intricacies of a camera. He loves to photograph sunsets most of all but also loves anything with vivid colors, such as flowers, rocks and other beautiful things found in nature. Once again, he is highly critical of his photography and will rarely even allow me to see what he has shot because it isn't worthy of viewing. 

He was very successful on his art trip with his class a few weeks ago. It was his first time away from home by himself for more than 24 hours. He handled all of the social situations wonderfully, which is what we were most worried about. He did feel left out at times, but overall he came back feeling very positive about the entire experience. I think we will continue to see growth coming from the confidence he acquired over the next few months.
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Boffing has continued to be his favorite activity each week. His older brother has now joined him, and they can be found every Sunday afternoon at the park (rain or shine), playing with about 35 other kids, teens and adults. It is a wonderful way to get some exercise, learn to deal with all sorts of personalities, deal with folks who don't always play fair, enjoy role playing, learn team cooperation and model for the younger kids that play.

Dean has a mechanical mind and can quickly and accurately put together furniture and model kits as well as design his own stage combat weapons. He enjoys creating with power tools. However, as with everything in Dean's world, he has to be in the mood to do it, so there can be long periods of time between projects.

He is currently working as a camp counselor at the camp he went to as a camper for the last five years. It is a theater camp and the theme this year is everything Mayan. He helps the younger kids make clay figures, learn stage combat, play tons of cooperative games, learn some Mayan vocabulary, plus make costumes and shields. They go on a several mile hike through the forest on Fridays and end the day with a giant feast of Mayan food. He is doing a great job! I can see so many lovely teaching qualities in him as he directs and interacts with the campers who are 7 to 14 years old. The director is very pleased with his work, and he is having a wonderful time in his new leadership role.

Dean has a strong moral compass. He often starts conversations to wonder about why people are mean and why they make bad choices. He thinks carefully about what is right and wrong. He is so gentle with his kitten and loves to take care of her. Sometimes he nettles his sister and drives family members a bit crazy with how critical he is of them, but that is mostly because he has such a black and white sense of right and wrong. He needs to continue working on not judging everything about everybody, but he has made some progress in this area.

Dean continues to struggle with loneliness if he is alone for more than an hour or two. He loves social interaction. His new kitten is providing some relief for his desire to have something to cuddle with and talk to. He struggles to stay motivated to complete projects and being a self-starter does not come naturally to him. However, after nearly 15 years of my being his "cruise director", he is starting to come up with his own plans and sometimes puts them into motion on his own. It is a slow process, but I do see some growth in this area. Academics are a struggle, not because he isn't smart, but because so many things bore him or, in his opinion, require too much energy to learn. If he is not interested in it, he sees no reason to learn it. He is a kid that really needs school to be real world learning, hands-on and high interest. He also has terrible self-doubt in his abilities and resists even trying new things at home or away from home for fear he won't succeed.

We are in a sweet spot right now with several successes in a row, and I hope to keep up the momentum of building his self-confidence and helping him to move peacefully and confidently into adulthood.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. "This year Dean has coped with the hardship of being a special needs teenager (of course, every teen just wants to be normal and fit in) and is starting to realize that he can rise above labels and create his own destiny."

    I don't know if there was ever a more wonderful sentence ever written. I feel the miracles in it!

    I, too, hope you get to keep up the momentum of this past year. He's a remarkable kid, and you're a remarkable mom!!

  2. What a lovely post! It is so nice to see him through your eyes. He is such a sweet person! I look forward to seeing where he goes next year.