The Math Miracle
By McNall Mason (Max’s Mom).
Some kids on the spectrum excel at academics. Max is not one of those for whom school work comes automatically easy… “that kid” is my older two sons who never had problems and barely had to study at all and passed everything easy-cheesy style. Max on the other hand struggles to earn every 100% on a spelling test, every AR (accelerated reading) point, every Math quiz grade and it’s been kind of a struggle to get him moving in a direction where he actually WANTS to do well on a consistent basis.
Max’s relationship with math is particularly strained right now. Reading used to be the problem and he was late to the reading game. It took a lot of work to get him to read, keep him reading and eventually steer him into reading for fun. If you’ve been following us, you might already know that Max is in the 3rd grade this year and finally he is now reading chapter books and FICTION – both of those were not “automatic” to him, both of those took a considerable amount of work and dedication on both of our parts. This morning he woke up an hour early and he finished up reading the last Diary of a Wimpy Kid book he was partially done with and now… even though he has enough AR points to skate through to the end of the year, he is going ahead and getting more… why? Because he can and also because the class is having a friendly competition to see who can get the most AR point through the end of the year and Max has decided he doesn’t want to be “that guy” who gets left in the dust by his peers. Peer pressure can be a good thing sometimes.
So then – back to the Math Miracle… Today is the last major math test of the year – (MSP = Measurement of Student Progress). Everyday, Max comes home from school, changes his clothes and drinks a glass of water while working on homework. Math is hard. Story problems are especially bad and two-part story problems are the absolute worst. If math was a food, in our house it would be Cod Liver Oil… but we choke it down daily anyway… why?! Because we have to… math is too important. All that to say – the journey to get to what I am about to share was up hill both ways!
Max’s incentive to do well on this test is a chocolate milkshake from Patty’s Diner. YUM and chances are a burger and fries will also be invited to the party! Max has decided he wants to do well on this test BECAUSE we’ve been working all year on getting him to WANT to do well in school…and because let’s face it, chocolate milkshakes are hard to resist.
Here’s another personality trait of Max’s that factors into this story: He doesn’t naturally ask for stuff. He will assume your answer and then not ask. So we’ve been working really hard on not assuming and asking to find out the real answer before making any decisions about what to do next. This goes for EVERYTHING from wanting something special from the store to telling us he would rather have PBJs in his lunch than a ham sandwich. AND slowly, oh SO slowly he is beginning to ask and self advocate. yay!
Today is the math test and last night was the one-two-punch from Max – the jaw dropping moment kinda like when he ASKED for water to drink last week… We were sitting around watching American Idol and suddenly, Max says “My teacher says if we come in early tomorrow we can get some extra math review before school but I can’t do that because I have to ride the bus and it will get me to school too late.”
“are you asking if you can get a ride so you can go in early to review for the test?” we ask.
“yes” he says. “can I?”
First we fell over in shock and then scrapped our jaws up off the floor and of course we said yes! And now you know why Max woke up an hour early this morning… it was because he was excited to go to “math boot camp” this morning and he was EXCITED to take the test. Of course we let him know that the most important thing in all of this testing is that he does his best job.
So maybe he will earn the chocolate milk shake and feel awesome about himself BUT if he doesn’t meet the goal for that, he will get something special if he does the best he can and next time he can shoot for the chocolate milk shake… because… drum roll please… that’s how life works.