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.
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.
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.