Report Card Day

Yesterday was Report Card Day.

As a kid and young adult I always loved getting my report card.

I loved seeing how I did, what my teachers had to say, what little surprises my parents might learn about me and my behavior (which was almost always good with the occasional "talks too much in class"). I cared quite a bit about my grades - not obsessively - they weren't all A's - but they were good and I wanted to do well.

I was a good student. I loved school. Always.

(Okay, except those first two years in college. You couldn't really say I was a good student then but I definitely loved the experience.)

Getting Simon's report card is a bit of a different story.

When it's Report Card Day I encounter a mixture of thoughts and feelings:


  • Seeing anything having to do with standardized or percentage-based numbers. Ugh. Just ugh. Usually I look at it, make a couple mental notes, and then move on to the next part of the packet. For Simon, like many students with delays/disabilities/issues, standardized testing (or any kind of testing really) is a major challenge. More often than not the test results say so very little about his actual abilities.

  • For as much as I work on my attitude and perspective and acceptance and the bigger picture, it's still just hard to read about his struggles. I love him, the whole of him, and support and encourage him to do his best every single day.


  • Getting to see where he's at with this goals. Each year at his annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting we, along with his teacher and his program director, come up with specific goals related to reading, math, writing, speech & language, and social skills. Most of his goals this year revolve around social skills, reading, and speech & language. His report card includes updates on his progress for each of those areas.

  • Anytime the teacher(s) include something personal. His speech teacher noted how "he comes to speech with a cheery attitude."

  • It's a reminder that things change and progress and get better and get more challenging and that's just the way it goes. Whatever is the biggest issue right now will ebb and flow into another issue. I find it actually helps me keep things in perspective.

  • He's doing just fine and is making forward progress at his own pace. We find ways to be proud of him every single day.


In addition to the "official" report card content, this was included in his packet:

The "M" next to "I enjoy reading." is one of the best things I've seen in a long time.

I got a little choked up when I came to that one.

This is the first year a form like this has been included with his report card. What I love about it is that it gives him a chance to be self-aware - to acknowledge which things might be more challenging for him and which things he's great at right now.

This is the kind of thing we hope for Simon.

That he can develop a love of reading and learning regardless of if he's performing right at grade level. That he can learn to recognize what he needs to work on and celebrate the areas where he excels.

The more confidence we can build in his own abilities the better equipped I believe he will be in the long run.


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  1. Sam F

    2011-02-09 15:17:34 -0500


  2. vanessa

    2011-02-09 15:26:40 -0500

    Great Job Simon!!!

  3. Janie

    2011-02-09 15:28:35 -0500

    Ali - just want to say that while I admire you in so many ways for your creative talents and skills, one of the things I appreciate most about you is your obvious care in being an involved and dedicated parent. I can't help but think that if all children could experience what you provide Simon and Anna, the world would be a much better place. Thanks for making our world better.

  4. Queen Mary

    2011-02-09 15:47:23 -0500

    Well Ali, I just wish I could give you a hug. My son didn't like reading until college, I was ALWAYS THE smartest kid in class and it just about broke my heart! But now he's presenting his first academic paper at a conference and writing a chapter for a book and JUST STARTING his PhD -- reminder -- in Neuroscience for Education! My husband teaches 5th grade (in case you forgot which Queen Mary this is) and he has FOR YEARS had his kids come to the parent teacher conferences. It started out as a way to make sure parents and teacher were on the same page -- with some hilarious side stories -- like the kid last year who said his baby sister tore up his homework, which surprised his parents at the conference because they were unaware he even HAD a baby sister! But what has happened is that the kids actually do start to realize where they are not meeting My husband mainstreams kids with learning differences, so he's had his share of interesting learners, it's all a growing process and we all grow at our own pace. You know if the butterfly tried to come out of the cocoon too early, it would not be a caterpillar OR a butterfly, it would just die. So patience with cocoons is always a good idea! Much love to you guys, Mary

  5. Megan

    2011-02-09 16:58:28 -0500

    Spectrum or not, we all find it harder to watch our children attempt success that when we went through it ourselves. LOVE his self-assessment. You have lots to be proud of, mama.

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  7. Cristin

    2011-02-09 21:05:34 -0500

    I also love when report card day - it's such a great way to find out how our kids are doing in school, to celebrate their successes, and find ways to make what may seem like failures more like challenges to overcome (and celebrate when they are overcome!!). I LOVE the idea of the school including Simon in understanding what he is good at and where he needs improvement from his perspective. What an awesome tool to help a child grow!

  8. elsa v.

    2011-02-09 22:31:56 -0500

    Dear Ali - fret not. After years of IEPs, mediocre report cards and countless distressful notes from teachers, my darling son is graduating from university in May. We have had to push, cajole and edify his bruised ego along the way, but he is almost done. And, his accomplishment is most significant because he did it in four years as planned, self-motivated and alone in a city that he never came to like. The irony is that many of his gifted, high-performing friends are preparing for a fifth year of college because they dropped too many classes in the process. You never know how they're going to surprise you.

  9. Melissa

    2011-02-09 23:08:08 -0500

    Ali, I love how you are so open and honest with your feelings and your struggles with Simon. I feel certain that you are helping other parents who come here to read about all the creative things that you do, and receive the added benefit of how you personally cope with your own issues when it comes to Simon, and they realize that they are not alone in their struggles, that they, too, worry about some of the very same things with their own child/children, and that it's completely normal to have the feelings they are feeling. I am thrilled to see that Simon likes reading. As the daughter of two librarians and the mother of a son who was reading at a 12th grade level by the time he was 10, I would encourage you and your husband to read aloud to Simon as much as possible. If you are already doing this, I would recommend adding even more reading-aloud time to your schedule. As much as you can truly schedule. It will make a world of difference down the road. Blessings to you and please tell Simon "thank you" for making me smile today!

    P.S. When he reaches 4th or 5th grade, track down a copy of "The Pushcart War" by Jean Merrill and read it out loud! It is simply wonderful and Simon will LOVE it!

  10. Carolyn

    2011-02-10 00:12:08 -0500

    I can't help but think that Anna has taught Simon a lot of empathy. I love reading about how loving he is towards her. I can't help but think his social skills are improving! (at least it appears that way to me :)

  11. Allycat

    2011-02-10 03:51:32 -0500

    I was a little choked up for you too - its great to hear that he loves reading too - so many children don't!

    WTG Simon!

  12. Steph

    2011-02-10 04:09:02 -0500

    Hi Ali,
    I want to share with you a cartoon that is the teacher's bathroom at the school where I work. It is 5 different animals sitting in front of a "teacher". I think it is a lion, penquin, goat, fish and bird. The caption reads something like..."in the interests of fair assessment we would like you all to take the same test. Climb that tree!" Sums it up beautifully don't you think? Well done Simon.

  13. patricia

    2011-02-10 09:45:14 -0500

    That self-assessment sheet is a true treasure.

    Your post comes at such a time—we're on our way to testing today...

  14. Wendy

    2011-02-10 11:36:10 -0500

    Awesome! Love this post! That is my outlook entirely! It's so nice to see it there in black and white! Some days it is easier to hold on to than others, but reading this reminds me how important, rewarding, necessary and wonderful it is! Thank you for being that voice! Congratulations on how far you have all come!

  15. Jacqueline

    2011-02-10 16:30:13 -0500

    After all these years (twins are 21 - with autism) I still get a knot in my stomach when I receive the papers with the goals and treatment plans for my children. I can totally relate to this feeling that you as mother have when you are faced with the 'challenges' that your child has, written down in black and white.
    Sometimes it feels to me like a slap in my face.
    Today I also received a set of papers - opened the envelop but still have to read and sign them... Even with all these years it does not get easier.
    But somehow I always find the strength to deal with it anyway! Although it might take a couple of days... :-)

  16. Mandy Moore

    2011-02-10 16:53:05 -0500

    I am new to your blog. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I have found it to be a good recommendation!
    I have a daughter (my number 3) who has significant speech and developmental delays. She does not have autism, but I found myself relating to your above post completely! My daughter is in Kindergarten and we have had years of IEPs that is for sure, and many more to come. She started in Early Intervention when she was 9 months old. It is always so hard for me to see how behind she is written out on paper or shown on some graph, and it is never the complete picture! I loved the way you stated your desire for Simon, that he would love learning and reading ho mater how it relates to his progress compared to grade level. I think I will adopt that attitude, thanks!

  17. Anthea

    2011-02-10 23:07:14 -0500

    Ali, you have the same thoughts and feelings I have when I read Josh's report card. Josh is now is high school and I still ignore the standardised testing and percentages and love for the growth from one year to the next and the teacher's comments. I too love the personal comments as it gives an insight into their personalities at school while they are being independent. It looks like Simon has done well this year.
    Go Simon and Go Ali and Chris. It takes a village to raise a child and I'm sure you have put a lot of work into Simon was well as his teachers, therapists and Katie.

  18. PWSmom

    2011-02-11 21:20:53 -0500

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said in this post. I go through the exact same feelings. This week has been especially challenging with my disabled son and his behavior. Reading your post helped put things in perspective- see his growth- and not feel alone. Thank You!

  19. Gali

    2011-02-12 16:19:13 -0500

    loved what you wrote. you brought me to tears.
    go Simon go.

  20. Jennifer Larson

    2011-02-13 15:02:04 -0500

    My son has autism too. I think I feel some of your ambivalent feelings when our report cards come out for Dominic. Fortunately, our district is moving away from letter grades in elementary, which is helping. I also teach, and the speech expert, who works with autistic kids, drew big circles in the air for me and said, "This represents progress for kids with autism. Two steps forward, one step back." Made me feel better.

  21. Emily Kinsaul

    2011-02-14 21:25:32 -0500

    This was just what I needed to read right now. I have twin boys who are delayed in their development both cognitive and speech/language. It's been a real struggle trying to keep it all in perspective. I love them both with everything in me. It's just hard sometimes to keep all the things they can do and how amazing they really are in the front of my mind when all I heard from the professionals is negative. Thanks for sharing, you're writing is inspiring!

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  23. Wendy

    2011-03-19 09:50:12 -0400

    A big fist bump for Simon! Dude! Way to go!! I know grown-ups that are NOT as self aware as you are. I hope you keep that ability until your a very old man. Once your really old like me (I'm 51 and thats REALLY old) then it won't matter, you can do what you like because your really old! I like that.
    Mom and Dad know your working really hard and that it is tough for you sometimes. The older you get the more responsibility you have to do your work yourself without Mom and Dad nagging at you to get it done. Its just the rule of life. I didn't make it up. Kids for thousands of years have had to do this.
    Now you know what to work on, and I bet that next report card you will have all "M"'s!
    Rock on Simon!


  24. Keirth Leffler

    2011-03-22 22:16:02 -0400

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart. I shall pray for you.

  25. Juju

    2011-04-02 14:16:48 -0400

    "I enjoy reading": what music to a teacher's ears--as well as a mother's. I teach first-year writing at a small university, and I can't tell you how out-in-front the students are who come to us with this kind of attitude toward reading. Bravo, Simon! Brava, Ali!

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