Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four Feet, Ten Inches of Brave

 Last night, John brought us information on a Science project he has due next week. He asked if we could help him research and put it together.

Looking over the information and the rubric, I was struck speechless. The students were given a choice of two projects... The first is to do a Cell Analogy using 10 of the 11 organelles. The___ is like the ___ because... Then each analogy needs to be illustrated.

The second choice is to do a report (which will be read to class) and a visual aid on a genetic disorder. How and when the disorder was discovered, how it affects a person and how it is treated. It should also include pictures of characteristics of the disorder or any pictures that go along with it.

John chose the latter. His choice of subject? Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Wanting to research ASD doesn't surprise me. Using the context of a school assignment to justify it also doesn't surprise me. Choosing to stand up in a class which includes kids who have been calling him 'retard', who have egged him on when he has outbursts and then tease him and who have (as kids in groups tend to do) shown little to no compassion or understanding... and seek to teach them something about himself is quite simply the gutsiest thing I can imagine for him to do. I'm in awe.

And a little scared. I'm the queen of 'what ifs'. What if it backfires? What if the pressure is too much and he melts down before or during the report? What if one of the little jerks in class decides to spout off in the hallway between class?

But what if he gets through it? What if he speaks with confidence, giving examples of other pretty awesome people with ASD? What if one or two of his classmates learn something and grow a little tolerance and understanding? What if the sheer ballsiness of a decision to stand up for himself in this way earns the respect of those teachers who still look at him as a whiny, spoiled child? What if he learns some wonderful things about himself and can stand a little taller, with a little more pride?

I'm cheering him on.

And I hope to stand up to a few things in my own life.

Kiddo, to call you an inspiration is an understatement. Keep being you. "Teh Awesome"


  1. Go John! Marisa, I'm showing Mike this entry, because it just so sounds like something he would do. I'm not the least surprised by any of it, either.

    John, you are an amazing young man. Keep being everything you are. And thank you. For showing me and reminding me all the time of what my own 12 year old 7th grader can be and do.

  2. what a freaking badass. give him a high-five for me.

  3. Bra-vo! Good for you, John!

    Have you seen "Phoebe in Wonderland"? If John likes to watch movies (some ASD kids don't have the attention span to sit through movies), it's one I think he would relate to. In any case, YOU would love it :).

    Cheering John on! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

  4. Like mother, like son. You're entire family continues to amaze and inspire me.

  5. Hee hee, Jarred is having issues with English. ;) Love ya anyway!

  6. With English?!?! I'm just having issues! The whole subscription, in fact!

  7. This is absolutely amazing. I know this is an old post, but I just ran across it and I must say that John is certainly a brave young man. I'm proud of him for standing up and giving them a detailed explanation of his advantage (personally, as a person having 2 brothers with Autism and Down Syndrome, I don't see anything as a disability; they're actually quite smart and very beautiful people), that's got to be the most amazing thing I've heard in a while. Not only do his classmates know more about the reasoning behind the way he is, but he also has a deeper understanding of why he does certain things or behaves certain ways. This made my heart swell. John might be a small one, but he's certainly a big person inside. Love that kid.


Your thoughts go here.