Checkin’ out

October 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm 11 comments

     I seem to be going through a phase I think many of us parents go through at some point in our kids’ young lives. There’s a point early on, where you know there is a limited amount of time as their young brains develop and patterns are formed. You run from therapy appointment to therapy appointment, and sometimes your child’s whole life seems to be full of therapy appointments. My son, for one, has always loved and continues to enjoy therapies. He works better with adults than kids, and he loves nothing more than someone completely focused on HIM. At some point, however, I began to wonder if he has reached the point where therapies no longer do much for him. In part because he is who he is, and another part because the other kids are who they are.

     I listened to a little boy tell C this morning that he was annoying, and later realized C would probably never say that to another child. He might if the child was in his face, but I still don’t think he’d say it in that way – he would say it in his own defense instead of as an offensive move against the other kid. If he’s mean to someone, it seems to be out of ignorance or true misunderstanding. He doesn’t ever seem to be mean simply for the sake of being mean. I don’t take any credit for this as I know it has far more to do with his diagnosis than any great parenting on my part. I just don’t think he ever looks at someone and calculates how to hurt their feelings.

     So as I’m pondering the wisdom of signing the form that came home requesting his presence in a friendship group at school (which was discussed at his IEP meeting), I find myself wondering if it will do any good. He’s quirky, he’s sometimes awkward, and he can certainly irritate other kids, but I’m not sure more therapy or a social group is going to change any of that. C is who he is, and I think he’s the most delightful child in the world. I wonder if he’s been coached enough, scripted enough, prodded enough, and prompted enough to just let him be.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , .

The Dichotomy of Autism My little ghoul

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hopeauthority  |  October 29, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I live in fear of the day when I too will overhear some little jackass say something mean and hurtful to my ‘C’. And I know that it is surely coming.

    For what it’s worth, I would DEFINATELY sign the form and send your ‘C’ to the friendship circle. You are looking at this the wrong way. It’s not therapy for your son. It is therapy for the rest of the little jackasses who need to know what friendship and tolerance are all about.

    Oh, and did C cry. He pulled it together before going inside for school, but it made him sad. Momma Bear just wants to cut loose and roar when that happens. I’m not good about that stuff – it just ruined my whole day!

    The thing about the friendship group is that it is all SN kids and “at-risk” kids. It’s not for the “typical” kids. At least I don’t think it is – I’ll have to check, but I’m pretty sure it’s all kids with “issues.” Darn if I don’t think all these little boys need it!

  • 2. pixiemama  |  October 30, 2008 at 5:48 am

    I hate offering advice that I might not follow. So, for this response, I am thinking not about Foster, who is VERY much like C, but Reilly, who is only a little bit like C, but is C’s age. [boy, that makes you want to keep reading, huh?]

    I would do two things:
    Find out more about the group – who is in it, who is “supervising” it, what time of the day it is (a good time for C?). If you get all of that info and still feel unsure, I would…

    Ask C if he wants to join the group. Now, the reason I wouldn’t apply this advice to Foster is that when asked yes/no questions that involve anything but food, Foster’s answer is almost always “No.” Reilly, on the other hand, is mature enough at 7 to answer me honestly, and tell me why he’s answering the way he is.

    Just a thought…

    You know, that’s a really, really good idea to ask C. We still haven’t had the “talk” with him sharing his diagnosis and such, but I’m pretty sure he knows he isn’t quite the same as everyone else. Which, of course, we’re working hard to convince him is a GOOD thing! I did talk to his teacher more today, and the group is at a bad time for what they’re doing in class (C’s favorite part of the day), so it may not work anyhow. I also have a call into the GC who is running the group to talk to her. Part of the goal of having him in this group was for him to establish a relationship with the GC, who will follow him next year to the upper elementary school. So if that’s the real point of it all, there are other ways to do it.

    Thanks for the advice. It’s spot on, and I appreciate it!

  • 3. hopeauthority  |  October 30, 2008 at 6:18 am

    C cried? Ok, now I’m pissed too. It would’ve ruined my whole week. That’s the kind of stuff that just sets me off for days into a black funk…
    It’d be great if the school could set up the friendship circle with a mix of typical and non-typical kids, or at least set up some mandatory “anti-jackass” class for the others…and their parents.

    A black funk is the PERFECT description. Thanks for that term – I’m stealing it from you! LOL! Yes, the mix of kids would be great. I’m waiting for a call back from the school GC to get more information – we shall see. I do like your idea about the other class though! 🙂

  • 4. robinaltman  |  October 30, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Grrrr…. But I do think you can take credit for C being a nice person. I know a lot of kids with the same diagnosis who can be just as mean as the little jackass. C’s niceness is a lovely quality.

    My son Alex went to social skills group. He would mock it when he got home. “They tell you to say, ‘Hi. My name is Alex. Want to play? You’re supposed to shake hands.’ ” Then he and Kevin would crack up. As long as they don’t tell him queer things, like to shake people’s hands, I don’t see a problem with it. He might make a friend in the group!

    See, that’s a little what I’m worried about. First, that we can script these kids all we want, but that it will STILL come out weird, partly because it’s adults teaching them and partly because even though they’re well scripted, some of these kids (like C) still won’t put together the non-verbal and verbal pieces to make it work. I also wish there were some typical kids in there – I’m tired of C being in these groups of kids who all have social challenges, you know? They need to be mixed in with other kids and not isolated in this learning, because let’s face it, the “typical” kids have a lot to learn about how to treat OUR kids as well.

    Anyway, I digress…the jury’s still out – waiting to talk to some more folks about it.

  • 5. Angie  |  October 30, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Yea…that sucks. That is why when the teacher told me, in her gentle manner, that J kinda annoys people, I just wanted to cry. And the new kid in class, Mr. Jock, who told J that he was weird….he’s getting the smallest cupcake with smashed frosting on birthday day.

    It’s heartbreaking to hear that stuff about our kids, because I know both of them are about the sweetest boys ever.

    But I hope it’s okay that I laughed out loud at your last sentence because it sounded JUST like you! I try so dang hard not to get angry at the other kid, but I am wayyyyyyyy too much of a Mama Bear!

  • 6. Casdok  |  October 30, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Difficult one, would it help to talk it through with his teacher again?

    Great minds think alike…talked with her this morning…we’re both going to talk to a couple more folks. I’m trying to minimize the time he’s pulled out of class as well – it’s such a balancing act!

  • 7. goodfountain  |  October 30, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I don’t have much advice regarding the class, I’ll be learning from you perhaps.

    Keep us informed!

  • 8. Holly's Mom  |  November 1, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Here in berkeley they have after school groups that are a mix of Autistic and Typical children, is there something like that in your area. It is simply like a playdate, with both types of kids… Now in reality the kinds of parents who will bring there kids are the ones who want there children to be open and tolerent of all children, so they are likely to be nicer then the average bully or jock he may see at school, but there are all kinds of typically developing kids who are weird and socially ackward too… when my husband was a kid he went to geology camp, and spent the summer finding fossils, he was so excited to get back to school and tell the other kids about it, and for the rest of the year they called him fossil boy… C will find friends, school is hard on everyone, and the more time he spends with typically developng kids the easier it will be for him to learn that he is unique and thats ok, and everyone has unique things about them… Hope this makes sence… I’m just saying don;t make his uniqueness about his diagnosis..

  • 9. justaglimpse  |  November 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    My “C” or E as we often call him (BTW, he informed me on-line I should refer to him as “Ace”) is now 11. He is high-functioning. We have participated over and over in what sounds like, similar social groups. I have seen a lot of growth in E over the last two years. He has three very good friends, and continues to change and grow.

    My only concern (as both a parent and a teacher) is that most social groups ought to have 1 or 2 kids that already model the target behavior (or “regular” kids.) Most research suggests a group of four to six kids equally mixed between challenges and model kids will get the best results.

    For us the person that has always helped us the most with socialization is E’s classroom teachers (some more than others.)

  • 10. hopeauthority  |  November 3, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    First, this is for Angie: When you mentioned “the smallest cupcake with the smashed frosting”… you REALLY meant the one that ALSO fell on the floor, rolled into the corner, got licked by the dog, and that you THINK you got all the hair off of, right? Good, I thought so…

    Now back to the topic at hand: Another thing to consider is to have older typical kids work with “C”, if possible. In my own ‘C’s school, they have a program where several 5th grade kids, mostly girls, but a couple boys, volunteer their time during the school day to work with ‘C’s class. These kids are wonderful and loving. They are the anti-bullies. The anti-jackasses. I think this helps with the scripted issue you and Robin talked about since its KIDS helping kids learn to play. Just another thought to throw at the principal.

  • 11. awalkabout  |  November 12, 2008 at 8:53 am

    We’ve been struggling with this as well. I put in my blog about how the Captain finally finally FINALLY got a friend who would invite him over after school, etc.–and then what that friend (who rides the special bus with him) taught him got him tossed in detention. 😦 Sometimes I’d like to think that only the SN kids can understand what a special needs kid goes through–and some times I wish he could hang with only NT kids. And maybe some of them are destined to be loners, and are better off that way.


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