Gossip

The priest across town who, at various intervals seemed to support me or at least seemed to NOT unsupport me, has been ousted.

The congregation never “took to him.” He does have a tendency to use allusions the working class can’t follow and he doesn’t always lay a clear transitional path in his homilies.  Actually, he also has this tendency to never change register and talks to kids with the same, unfiltered version of what the Catholic church teaches that he does to adults.  The little kids actually like him a lot; the big kids, who have been socialized to learn you don’t hurt feelings with the truth, are suspicious of him.  It doesn’t help he followed a very loved priest, who died unexpectedly who really only seemed to focus on eldercare and, in our experience when we were there, our son was summarily thrown out of the school because of his Autism, because the late priest neglected the school.

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Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, intersectionality, leadership, Teaching

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Accepting That I’m Not a Superhero

The thing about being Autistic, I think, that can be really detrimental to living a functioning adult life, is that we believe a lot of what we’ve been taught.

Think back to all those posters on the walls at your schools.  Think about all those heroes they made us read about, so that we could learn to cultivate all those virtues “they” wanted us to all have.  We were supposed to be honest, hardworking, and compassionate.  We were supposed to save the world!

But, as we Autistics have found, we aren’t really supposed to be too honest.  Being too honest doesn’t work out so well for us.

A lot of people can hang out at the water cooler (literally and metaphorically) all day long, and yet they seem to get ahead at work.

And when you give so much that it hurts, all that happens is you’re hurt.  There is no reward.

And yes, it’s all possible for all this suffering we go through on this earth to be rewarded in the afterlife, but we see so many people flagrantly ignoring the rules we were overtly taught and internalized, and they do, in fact, get ahead on this earth.

If they meant that honesty, diligence, and compassion would mean not a danged thing now, but might or might not in the afterlife (if it exists), why the heck didn’t they just say that?

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Posted in Advocacy, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, Disability in Education, leadership

It is Over: Ableism and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

While scrolling through Twitter, I caught another poll (they seem common, lately, on Autistic Twitter) about employment.  I marked “full-time,” which really understated how much I work, and for how little.

In a few short months, that won’t be accurate again.

Fair warning: this is a post that will get ranty a bit because, well, ableism.

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Posted in Autistic Identity, leadership

Perseveration and Derailment: the Path to Burnout

Yesterday was one of those terrible days.  It started at 8:30, when I had fallen asleep.  My teacher who has a public-school run classroom who has been instructed to get a district sub now, told me she had a sick daughter, but somehow could only find a sub who could stay until 2:00.  I woke up to this text around 10:30 and replied we needed a full-day sub (of course we did) and no, I wasn’t available to just cover that hour because 1) I had a meeting all day and 2) why would I get a sub for “most of the day”?  She never did explain why this was the sub she’d obsessed over.  There was an option to cancel the afternoon class, so I said if that was really the only sub she could find, I guessed she’d have to cancel the afternoon.

So now, of course, I’m up all night waiting to hear what she decided and how badly this would mess up my day.

And so it all began.

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Posted in leadership, School governance, School Leadership

Leadership as Vocation

Last night, I found myself in the sub-basement of the school with our new maintenance volunteer head and, later, his wife.  He wanted to walk through again and look for building plans, and I’d sworn I’d seen them downstairs, but alas, we couldn’t find them there.

Regardless, we were actually there for the fish fry, so it was somewhat comical to be crawling around the basement when the place was full of people, but everything was covered and calm, so we could “talk shop.”

When he continued to prowl and she joined us, she and I chatted about the school and its future.

And yes, it has one, thank you very much (you all know that…but sheesh, I had to tell people who had heard that we were closing that no, that wasn’t the case).

Anyway, while we were chatting, I think she saw how overwhelmed I had gotten by all the junk still scattered all over the school.  10+ years of neglect will do that to a building as large as ours, where you can hide everything in some room or another.  She then switched to talking about vocation and how it was clear I was in the vocation I was called to be in and how lucky I was that it was the case.

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Posted in Autistic Identity, leadership, Self-Care

Masking, Anxiety, and Other Everyday Woes of the Autistic Woman

I wrote a piece yesterday that I set back to private regarding a parent-student interaction thing.

I walk a tight line with confidentiality and trying to help inform other leaders about Autism in education.  I think I was alright with that post, but if I get “outed” by identity, my school is so small, each player in that post will be instantly recognizable.  That’s not okay.

While that post gave me some good feelings because it helped me to justify why it will be okay whether the child in question stays or leaves, I have spent all of today in Autistic overload due to anxiety.  I don’t think it’s because of the post per-se, but because of dreading the follow-up conversation with a neurotypical parent which will happen tomorrow morning.  As a Catholic institution, we remember that parents, not schools, are responsible for their own parenting decisions.  It is his mom’s right to do whatever she sees fit, and I do applaud that right because I profit from it as a parent of a homeschooled child.

But as an Autistic who lives with anxiety as a “normal” fact of life, the implication that I know less about her child’s neurology than she, herself, or the neurotypical establishment doctors know, hurts me, too.  (By the way, Autistics, for “fun” look up anxiety symptoms…you’ll probably find you live like this ALL THE TIME.  It’s actually NORMAL for you, so you don’t think these are actual conditions neurotypicals do NOT experience all the flipping time and if they suddenly do, they ask for help.  Who knew?)

Here’s more on anxiety and masking: the endless cycle.

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Posted in Advocacy, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, leadership, Parenting, School governance, School Leadership, Teaching

Focusing on Forever: the Difficulty of Catholic School Administration in a Here-and-Now World

As a school principal and a parent, I get a few things about education in a way that other parents and principals might not.

First, I get that school is a “right” in a theoretical sense.

But I also get that administrators have to balance rights against each other.  In other words, they have to make school safe for the majority with the limited budgets they have.

It was that understanding of reality that made me decide to homeschool our Autistic son.  There is no way I can expect him to be in a group of other chatty people and have him have any sense of happiness.  Perhaps if we had found my school with me as leader when he was younger (as in, pre-kindergarten in his case; his school damage was gigantic), it might have been different.  We didn’t, and he doesn’t even like the idea of going back to school, so he won’t at this time.  I figure, that’s okay, we’ll make it work.

But we have enough privilege to be able to have jobs that involve working at home.  I used to score standardized tests at home, and my husband does testing for an Autistic-friendly company.

Not everyone has that, which is why I’m glad to have my school.

As a Catholic school principal, I am not merely charged with getting kids ready for college.  I am, however, charged with getting them ready for college, work, to be a mom, dad, religious sister or brother, priest, etc. as well as getting them ready for heaven.

We take the long path.  We are focused on much, much more than grades and college-preparation. It is a slow, winding journey with many missteps.  We sin, we fall, but we confess and we learn and we do better the next time.

It is not as easy as preparing kids for college.  There is so much more at stake in a Catholic school.

My kids know this and are good at forgiving each other for mistakes of all kinds.  At least, they normally do.  Long-term parents, also, know, that little dust-ups shall pass, and they move on pretty fast because they know the kids love each other and this is a safe place.

However, sometimes parents can be a bigger issue than the kids.

I had an issue this week with a parent who was upset because a student struck her child.  He was uninjured.  He hit back.  She was uninjured.

Here’s what happened, and how the parent over-reacted because she was too busy advocating for her own child at the expense of other children.

Don’t be this parent.

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Posted in Catholic education, leadership, School governance

Tired of being Pollyanna

One of the things my pastor and I are known for is being so positive even when something is clearly not going well at the school.

A teacher quits?  Well, we’ll find another.

An aide quits?  Well, we’ll save money.

The same aide comes back?  Well, we missed her.

Kids leave?  Well, at least they’re trying another Catholic school (or: well, there are counselors at that school, at least).

That sort of thing.

The Director of Religious Education is floored by our ability to say, well, we’ll try this instead whenever something goes wrong or to spin anything that happens as another facet of God’s will, and keep trying.

The trouble is, we’re not really doing that so much anymore.

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Posted in leadership

Leadership Strengths of an Autistic Female: Common?

So, I’m in an educational leadership class that had us do the Gallup CliftonStrengths “test.”  In order to do this, you must buy a new, unopened copy of Strengths Based Leadership and go online to take a test.  I think it’s also available to purchase without the book, but for nearly $20, just get the book, too, as you save nothing by just buying the online version.

At any rate, I never would have taken this but for class, however, I found the theory behind the test intriguing, and I thought you all might as well.

The theory behind Strengths Based Leadership is that we ought to focus on our strengths.  We know ourselves, and therefore if we do what we’re best at and leave others, who are better at other things than we are, to do those things, thereby, we can have an effective team.

I know I lost some Autistics there with the word, “team,” because many of us remember the definition of team meaning “ignore the Autistic and/or make him or her do all of the work and claim group credit.”  Believe me, I know.

However, in a functioning model of teamwork, each person does what he or she is best at and together they do better than they ever would alone.  In theory, at any rate.

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Posted in Autistic Identity, Catholic leadership, leadership

Truth and the Renegade Leader

One of the things about being Catholic is that we are called to believe in one Truth (capital T) which is Jesus/God/Holy Spirit…you know, TRUTH.  And this actually fits in line with what I think the Autistic view of Truth is…the idea that there is one factual truth in all things.

But we also, as Autistics, believe in multiple perspectives.  As in, one person’s experiences will affect the way he or she tells the story.  Sometimes Autistics who have not been “woke” to this truth still fight it and believe only one view of events can possibly exist, but increasingly, as one becomes an activist, one learns about perspective, white privilege and so on.

In leadership, there is another kind of truth, I think.

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