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    What the hell does 2+ mean?

    Our 10 year old son Jon has autism.  He is quite high functioning, in a regular class with normal kids (yes I said 'normal', I am using that in a statistical sense, if you don't like it, get your own blog) and mostly does the same course work they do.  Indeed, his grades put him somewhere in the middle of the pack on average.  He rocks spelling, and French, he loves reading, and like a lot of kids his age, he is not much on math....  There are other classes of course, including gym and art.  Now I get the utility of art and gym.  They are important.  Physical acticivty and creative stuff are good things, and a well rounded person does these things as well as academic pursuits.  

    I may be wrong (as unlikely as that seems....) but I think that part of the point of art is to express emotion.  Now if you know anything about autism you know that emotions are hard for people like Jon.  They have trouble reading them in other people, and expressing them.  Jon wants to understand emotion in others, he often asks 'what feeling do you have?' when he does not know (which, by the way, is VERY cool).  

    Well, the kids had an art assignment, and it seems it was to make posters for being good people.  You know, that sort of touchy feely fuzzy stuff they do to encourage good behaviour.  Jon did a poster of two people holding hands and wrote over top of it 'Be a friend'.  When I saw it it brought tears to my eyes.  He was expressing emotion with a drawing, not just drawing plane crashes or writing up reports on plane crashes (Jon like plane crashes.....).  My poor quality photo of Jon's drawing. Drawing (c) Jon Brodbeck, 2011

    So I was very proud of this work.  Hell I still am.  I then turned it over and saw a grade on it.  He got a '2+'.  I asked Jon what the heck that meant and he explained that things are graded out of 4.  (He got a 4+ on a spelling test yesterday, and that was perfect, so you get the idea).  So, apparently, according to Jon's art teacher, his work is barely a pass.  OK, look I know the kid is no Ken Danby (thought I would throw a Sault Ste. Marie reference in there) but it frankly is no worse than what I would have done at that age.  (Honestly).  Plus, it seems to me that he worked within the parameters of the assignment, he successfully is promoting being a good person.  Finally, HE IS A PERSON WIHT AUTISM WHO JUST EXPRESSED EMOTION THROUGH ART.  (I was shouting there, if you are wondering, oh and I left the word 'FUCKING' out...)  

    I know this is not a big deal for him, I asked, he couldn't care less.  But, this is to me.  I wonder, what was the objective criterion used to grade his work (or the other kids in his class?)  So this is just barely a pass is it?  For a kid that has trouble expressing and even UNDERSTANDING emotion.  Seems to me this is a 4 at least.  

    Now please, I am not saying that in say spelling or math or French or whatever that he should be given some special consideration if he is in the regular program.  He should be graded like everyone else (and he is).  But, in this case, let's be impressed shall we?  He did something that was harder for him than it would be for anyone else in the damned school.  

    We have expressed our concerns and I am confident all will be well.  I can also tell you that I am now using this picture as my desktop and we are framing this picture, 2+ be damned.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    I think it's awesome Jon did that! and you'd fucking well better be proud :)

    I've a problem when things are judged and that passes for graded. Art is one of those things. "sports" like figure skating fall into the category. It's unnatural to assign a finite mathematical grade to what comes down to being opinion. One critic gives a movie 1 star, another 5, neither is really right and the popcorn still had too much salt.

    For all we know, some art expert could determine that this very drawing captures something, and all of a sudden Jon is a recognized artist and starts selling his wares.

    Wouldn't the teacher eat their 2+ then?

    September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Goyetche

    Well put Bob.

    Hmm, maybe I can monetize this..... <- For those of you that don't know me, I AM KIDDING.

    September 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Brodbeck

    The question that comes to my mind after reading your post is, "What is the teacher's knowledge of autism?" I'm not being judgmental of the teacher, I'm asking because it seems to me that if you understand this particular component of autism (inability to express/interpret/understand emotion), then wouldn't you think that this art by Jon was a HUGE FUCKEN LEAP???!!!

    Just askin'.

    September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Penney

    Awesome drawing! As a therapist who works with kids with, shall we say, "issues," I think this drawing deserves a 5+. Fucking 2+ my ass. I know "normal" kids who can't come up with a picture of being a good person! I think Jon rocks. :)

    September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMartha Merchant

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