Quinn is an enigma. I have gone back and forth on whether that kid is neurotypical more times than I can count. I have really valid arguments on both sides of that fence. I eventually settled on calling him quirky and called it a day.
He had an IEP for a couple of years, but pretty much just for handwriting. He was dismissed from special education last year, amid a stack of normal test results and teachers and specialists who said he was totally within the parameters of first grade behavior.
I remember saying at the time, “Huh. I guess maybe he just seems weird to me because he’s typical and I don’t understand typical.”
You know what? That kid ain’t typical.
Sure, he talked on time. Sure, he can hack social relationships. No, he’s not repetitive. But, yes, he has a billion sensory issues (normal sensory profile administered last year notwithstanding). He has some anxiety. He is crazy rigid. He is obsessive.
Most of all, he is fun and nice and charismatic and adorable and silly and funny and wonderful. I love that kid so much. He is wonderful.
He is quirky as hell though. It’s hard to put your finger on him. So I kind of stopped trying. I decided to let him be him.
Now, there is something else you should know about Quinn. He is a third child. He’s never been on a team or taken a weekly class or anything like that. I finally signed him up for gymnastics and he just had his fourth weekly class Saturday.
I picked a gym that we’ve been to for open gym time and that Quinn loves. The reason we knew about it for open gym is because it is well-regarded in the local special needs community because they do one-on-one “motion education” classes with kids who have special needs.
The first day we went, it was chaotic. There were a bajillion kids and parents in the waiting area, especially because when we arrived, both the parents collecting their 9 o’clock kids and those of us dropping off our 10 o’clock kids were all there.
Quinn kind of freaked out. Then he found out he had to wear a name tag sticker and he lost it. He wanted to leave. He started yelling about wearing stickers and how terrible it is to have to do such a thing. Also, he knows all about the “pat on the back/apply the sticker in secret” trick, so I can’t even do that.
Eventually he agreed to wear it on his butt.
Once he went into class, he was grumpy and irritated for about five minutes and then he was completely happy. He was following his teacher around talking to him and scratching his back and doing what he was supposed to do. I was pleased.
The next week, he had another sticker freak out, but then joined in happily with his class. At some point though, I realized that he was with a class of much younger kids. It turns out that he had been with the wrong class for two weeks. I told the front desk and they moved him. (All the classes are in the gym at the same time.)
Last week, Alex took Quinn. Alex said everything went fine.
This week, Quinn ended up with a totally different group. I was more concerned that Quinn didn’t seem to be totally participating and didn’t notice right away that his group was different. By the time I really figured that out, Quinn was working one-on-one with a teacher.
I thought it was weird, but then I figured that if anyone could talk himself into individual attention, it is Quinn.
At the end of class, however, I did ask what was going on. The instructor said that he was kind of assessing Quinn because he was having a hard time in the regular class. This instructor seemed to be part of the special needs motion education team.
He told me a little bit about motion education and when I said, “Yeah, but it’s way more expensive, right?” he said, “Yes, a little.” (Answer: more than three times as much.) Then he told me about this certain kind of funding that they accept to pay for it.
Now, I know what that funding is, because Jack gets it for summer camp. You have to have proof of a disability to qualify for it. Quinn wouldn’t qualify. It was a little weird to me that he suggested that because the assumption seemed to be that we all knew that Quinn had a disability and that I would know what that kind of funding was.
It was all very confusing in the packed gym with requests for me to call next week to talk to them and me being confused about whether they were trying to tell me not to bring him back for his regular class and what is going to happen if they don’t want him in a regular class, because I can’t pay the motion education price. I mean, I don’t think they can kick him out, but I don’t want to be the asshole whose kid disrupts the whole class either.
All of this to say that I’m sort of rolling Quinn’s quirkiness around in my brain as if it were a marble. I don’t care if he is diagnosable or not. He is who he is and who he is is kickass. I don’t much care if there were a label on it. But I’m wondering if I’ve been too hard on him for being rigid and blaming it on his third child stubbornness when maybe it is something else. I may have to start thinking more about how I react to him.
I also wonder why I and his school are willing to shake off any thoughts of atypicality when some kid instructor at a gymnastics place can spot him right away. I mean, I’m not self-flagellating or anything and I’m not running him in for any evaluations tomorrow, but it is something to think about. If he stands out that much to others, that might be a sign that I need to try to understand him better and help him understand himself.
And, honestly, the fact that they were able to spot him as different was not all that surprising to me, which is maybe an indication that I hadn’t fully accepted him as typical anyway.
One thing I do know for sure is that Quinn will be okay with us. He fits right into this neurodiverse family regardless of what anyone else thinks of him. He is a quirky little dude and we like him like that. But I guess I’m not done wondering where he falls within that landscape.