People Suck. School is Awesome.

A week ago (it took me that long to calm enough to write about this) we took G to a music festival in our town that had a section with kids activities like inflatable slides and bouncy houses.  G was well rested, well fed, had calm time before we left and we had our bag stocked with earplugs and his video games.  DH took G to the bouncy house while I stayed behind with some friends. 

According to DH, he was watching G do very well bouncing with other kids.  It was relatively empty, with maybe 5 kids there when G bounced into a small girl.  It was clearly an accident.  The girl’s mother started yelling at G to watch what he was doing and to be more careful.  G didn’t respond at first, as is typical for autism and G, so she continued to loudly berate G. Then G turned to her and told her to, “Shut Up.”  Not great.  She then started to berate G for rudeness.  DH, who had been trying to intervene throughout this exchange, got G out of the bouncy house, let the lady know the initial incident was an accident and started to get G’s shoe’s on.  The lady demanded an apology, so DH apologized for G’s rudeness.  The lady then told DH she wanted the apology from G because G needed to respect his elders.  At which point, DH told her that G was autistic and couldn’t understand why she was still yelling at him for an accident.  He got G away from her without waiting for a response.

I get that she was upset because her daughter was knocked over.  But it was a bouncy house, that’s going to happen.  I absolutely understand that a child telling an adult to shut up is inappropriate.  However, this is an example of how what is completely unacceptable to one family is great progress to another.  Noise and chaos is difficult for G.  A stranger loudly yelling at G is stressful.  But he didn’t meltdown, shriek wordlessly or strike out at the closest child to vent his frustration.  (which probably would have been this lady’s daughter)   In this situation, he used words instead of action and correctly targeted the source of his frustration.   I’ve mentioned before that for G to replace aggressive behavior with words, the words must feel like a satisfying replacement.  If we tried to teach him to say, “ma’am, please lower your voice, I can’t think to respond when you’re yelling,”  we’d never get anywhere. 

And I have to say, I’m pretty pissed that the woman even thought yelling at G was acceptable.  DH was standing right there, I dare say hovering because that’s what we do, so why didn’t she turn to DH to resolve the issue before yelling at someone else’s child?  G is rude and needs to respect his elders but she can be an aggressive, interfering boar?  What kind of example of the behavior she seeks is that?  People suck.

On the other hand, school is awesome.  G is doing really well.  All kids go to technology class once a week, and at the start of the year they take tests on the computer to evaluate their reading and math skills.  The program used is one where the more correct answers the child gives, the harder the questions get and the scores determine which kids need to go to enrichment.  G’s reading scores were about average for the enrichment group and his math score was one of the – if not the highest.  And this is after skipping a grade!  We had a meeting to discuss his learning plan for the year and I was bursting with pride.  I also got some great tips from an article over at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism regarding reading comprehension that I think will really help him succeed. 

They allow some non-fiction for reading comprehension but really stress working on fiction.  So I used the wording from the article to explain social assumptions often used in fiction and how that can be difficult for someone with autism.  It sparked a good discussion on what those social assumptions are, how more straight forward fiction is better and G’s teacher was able to add to the discussion to give examples of where G has trouble retelling the story when motivations are assumed to be understood instead of explained outright.  I feel really good about his plan and think the team really gets where G is coming from.

If only the rest of the world could too.

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 10:03 am  Comments (6)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ouch. I would’ve had a hard time not demanding an apology from HER. Sheesh. Good for G for expressing himself – baby steps, right? I think he’s awesome. 🙂

    • Thanks!

  2. Good for G! Sometimes the more our kids succeed at blending in, the more people assume they’re acting inappropriately on purpose. Ironic, isn’t it?

    • Very ironic. I’m so proud that G is doing so well. But it means people are expecting too much from him, then he fails to meet expectations. It’s maddening.

  3. Mental hugs to you all. I am so sorry you all had to experience the face of such ugliness. It continues to amaze me how our children on the spectrum can bookend “normal” behavior with such peace or wailing. They hold a mirror and a magnifying glass to behavior and if you listen, often find a lesson. G is blessed by your guidance. Glad life is going well for you all. One hour at a time.

  4. “One hour at a time,” that’s exactly right. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: