Autism Acceptance Day – 2012

Every year, I ramble on about how I want today to stop being about awareness and start being about acceptance. Today, I walk the talk. In the last year, I’ve moved from being only a mom obsessing about every new scientific advance and behavioral therapy, agonizing over how what I’ve read can help my son, to being a paraprofessional – applying my obsessive knowledge outside my family. It’s been really healthy for me. It’s given me an outlet for what I’ve learned that is more productive and it’s given me a better perspective on how we’re doing as a family. And I’ll say that my son is doing very, very well.

Here’s how I spent my Autism Awareness Day.

Woke my son for school by rubbing his arm, whispering his name and promptly leaving the room with no extraneous conversation. Waited for him to be ready to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen.

Made a bagel and gave him the choice of peanut butter or cream cheese as a topping.

Printed out his daily schedule, giving him time to look it over during breakfast.

Prompted G to dress and brush teeth.

Helped him tie on his new boots, the extra stiff ones that will hopefully help to keep his toe-walking to a minimum.

Drove him to school, reminding him to use his words when frustrated instead of hitting with his hands.

Grabbed a cup of coffee before heading to work.

Picked up my student and took him for his 15 minute sensory break. Did a puzzle while lying on his belly in a sling/swing, did football and superman exercises, and deep pressure exercises. Finally, ended with jumping jacks on the mini-tramp, focusing on getting his arms and legs moving at the same time.

Dropped my student off with the speech therapist and led a book club with six of his classmates.

Picked up my student, practiced his oral presentation on Cheese (food projects) several times. Focused on enunciating the words and facing his imaginary classmates.

Read books in between practices, working on sounding out unfamiliar words for independent reading rather than asking and memorizing.

Sat with my student while some of his classmates shared their food presentations.

Realized he wasn’t engaged in the presentations and wrote a social story about how to listen to classmates projects and how to fill out the simple response form after the presentation.

Sent him to recess, sat with the neurotypical students who also didn’t understand how to fill out the response forms and were missing recess until they were completed.

After sending the NT kids out for what was left of recess, quickly ate my lunch, performed my recess duty while my student was at lunch, came in to find he’d left the cafeteria while the lunch monitor was distracted and was unaccounted for.

Located my student in the hallway by the bathrooms, brought him back to the classroom for story time, helped him through the post-story comprehension activity by asking prompting questions and turning the activity into a challenge rather than drudge work.

Sent him off to PE with his class and ended my 4 hour work day.

Next I’ll pick up my son, prompt him through his homework and wait for the babysitter’s arrival so I can begin my weekly date-night with hubby.

So how was your World Autism Awareness Day?

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm  Comments (1)  

I Won’t Give Up

We’ve had quite a week. G has had a rocky time of it in PE. He’s got motor issues, he’s at least one full year younger than his classmates, he’s competitive to the extreme and when he’s frustrated, he still struggles not to react by hitting. You couldn’t put together a more combustible combination. The school OT attends PE with him once a week to help him in all these areas. She also attends with kids on IEP’s the first year of Intermediate school because the gym teacher there is, “Old School.” Apparently he’s been in this position for several decades and can be rough on the kids he doesn’t understand. So she attends with the student in an effort to smooth the way.

The first trimester, G hit kids so often that a contract/reward system was implemented. When G had 10 recorded classes without hitting, he earned a trip to the ice cream store with a friend and the school psychologist, on school time. Big reward for a big undertaking. But by the end of the first trimester, he’d earned his trip! Second trimester started out wonderfully – G was participating to the best of his ability and his outbursts were greatly diminished. When he did get frustrated, his meltdowns were verbal in nature. Not great in the context of a typical 4th grader, but outstanding for G! On the weekly reflection sheets his class fills out on Friday’s, G consistently wrote that he planned to work the following week on his behavior in PE. He was highly motivated and we were getting nothing but good reports.

Then last week while at work, I got a call from the OT letting me know she’d be late for her time with my student. Because she needed to stay with my son, who was recovering from a rather severe meltdown. She’d been with him at PE where the activity was Dodgeball. (told you, this gym teacher is old school) G couldn’t follow the strategy and stood in the front of the group. He got hit, got frustrated and sat down where he was instead of moving off the floor. Another boy didn’t realize he was already out and hit him again. That was it for G, he went completely off and started screaming. When the OT stepped in, he started screaming at her and said rude things. But – and here’s the big thing – he never hit. Never even tried to hit, never faked hitting, just screamed and yelled. So the OT and I celebrated, as well we should!

Then report cards came. G failed PE. In a trimester where he made so much progress. DH and I were stunned, G was disappointed, but overall my attitude was to blow it off because it’s just PE and it’s just 4th grade. Honestly, my attitude didn’t change until our trimester conference with his classroom teacher. The kids write out a script and run the show. When G ran down his list and got to what he was most proud of, he said, “Well, I wrote that I was most proud of my work in PE, but that was before I got my grades.” On the way home, he asked if 0’s exist for report cards. When I said no, he made a remark about not needing to try hard to keep from getting lower grades in PE.

That started a slow burn in me. I went home and wrote a very polite and proactive email to the OT and school psychologist, letting them know to watch out for G the next week, as it seemed he’d given up trying to behave in PE. In our discussions, it became clear the grade was assigned because of the one bad day rather than the trimester as a whole. They were both shocked and not shocked that the teacher had reacted to G’s screaming meltdown so drastically. Somehow, the idea that this was typical for the teacher made it even worse for me. I went to bed very irritated. I woke up at 3am feeling mad and was awake for an hour until I could calm down and fall asleep again. When I woke up at 6, I was just plain furious.

I met with the school psychologist and vented about how angry I was. I’m never combative, I’m always willing to discuss and negotiate, to work together to achieve a particular goal. Not this time. We wrote up language for G’s IEP to prevent this from happening again. I told her that was good, but not enough. I was calling the principal to demand the grades be changed. On my way home, left a message requesting an appointment with the principal to discuss a problem with the gym teacher. This is big, because we’re a small-town, ‘I’ll just pop-in’ kind of system. But I didn’t want to risk being blown off. The admin assistant and the principal took this very seriously.

By the time I got to the school to talk to the principal, the psychologist had already talked to him. He was very attentive, went over my concerns, gave me an initial agreement and asked for time to talk with the PE teacher. When I asked for the grades to be changed, he told me he couldn’t promise anything because he didn’t have the authority to question teacher’s evaluations. But the next morning at drop off, he pulled me aside to let me know that he had spoken with the teacher and G’s grades would be revised by the end of the day!

They didn’t go up much, but it was enough for G to feel he’d made progress instead of failing. And that was all I wanted. G is proud of himself again. He’s motivated to keep trying. Isn’t that all we want of our kids? A new system, that is still being determined, will be put in place where G will know that 0-4ish outbursts (of any kind) in a trimester is a 1 (A) for sportsmanship, 4ish to 8ish is a 2, etc. And G’s skill development grade will be determined by observing him for two weeks as a baseline first, instead of comparing him to older, neuro-typical peers.

I feel as if I fought a dragon and won! I know we’re so lucky to be in such a wonderfully supportive school system. This was one icky teacher in a system of great ones, with a principal who truly puts the student first. Still, on the way home from school, I put this song on my ipod on a continuous loop. It’s supposed to be a love song, but to me it’s become an anthem for fighting for our kids.

Published in: on March 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm  Comments (1)  

My Current Anthem

Holiday Breaks from routine can be so difficult.

So. Difficult.

Here’s the song I’ve listened to obsessively the past two weeks to get me through:

Matt Nathanson – Little Victories

Published in: on January 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm  Comments (1)  

How Full is Your Bucket?

I heard something awesome at my al-anon meeting last week, something that is going to make a major change as to how I manage my life.

One of my extended family members is dealing with a health crisis. I was talking about it at our meeting, because it has caused my entire family to go (what feels like) indiscriminately crazy. Not in a, “how can we rally and help this family member,” kind of way, but more of a, “isn’t this a tragic situation for me,” kind of way. This is pretty typical of the dysfunctional family. I want to be a loving, supportive family member, not just to the member that is sick, but to everyone. However after years of working on myself, I know my limits and am aware that I need to do a little self-protecting so that I don’t get swept up into the drama in a way that is not healthy. I know how hard-hearted this sounds. I was discussing my conflicting feelings of guilt and self-preservation when another member gave me the perfect metaphor.

Our life force is like water in a bucket. If every time we have a little water in the bucket, we dole it out to those we think need it more than we do, then we’ll exist in a constant state of drought. Always scrambling for the little water we have, trying to tip our buckets to extract the last little bit to give to others, shaking our fists at the sky – angry that more rain isn’t falling. This is the pitfall of extended caregiving. If instead, we tend our bucket and wait for the water to reach the top, then the excess spills over. We have plenty to give to others and can do so generously, with no feelings of resentment.

I’ve heard other metaphors for self care, but this one really resonated with me, maybe because I could better see the true benefit to being selfish. As a parent to an autistic child, I know it is so easy to fall into that pitfall of caregiving. We’re trained to give everything to everyone, not just our children, and to put ourselves last. But that is dangerous for our kids in the long run. What happens when we hit a crisis month and we’re already running on empty? Isn’t it better for my son if I tend to myself a little every day, so that when one of those crisis periods occurs (the holidays jump immediately to mind) I have ample reserves to get through it and can wait patiently for the next calm period to replenish? I can do this by giving myself a break each day. Asking my husband for help, telling the school I cannot volunteer one day, cannot substitute teach more than 3 days a week, or telling friends I can’t meet them today because I’m staying home to read a book/take a bath/take a nap. Or, by telling my extended family that I am supporting my sick family member in my own way but will not be taking 100 phone calls from them to talk about how awful it is.

Things are going to be different this holiday season. I won’t be doing everything for everybody until I’m run ragged. Before committing to anything, I’ll be taking a look at my bucket to see if I have the proper balance.

Published in: on November 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Motives Vs Methods

There is a series of posts at the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism discussing the role of parents and self-advocates in the disability rights movement that is quite fascinating. I have opinions, but not particularly passionate ones, so the debate in the comment section has been both clarifying and thought provoking at times.

In particular, there is a post written by a woman with autism who discussed how it made her feel to realize her parents had stacks of books about parenting just for her and how she felt going to various therapies. It contrasted what her parents were doing with how it made her feel. It gave me a lot to think about in the context of a conversation I recently had with G.

We were at the dinner table, discussing an incident at school that day. G was at recess when the teacher started calling kids to line up. G ran for the line and passed a boy who was sitting on the ground, still playing. G told him it was time to line up. The boy, who hadn’t heard the teacher, refused to comply and continued his activity. G, who becomes intensely frustrated when the rules aren’t followed, kicked the boy in the head. Hard. Like the boy’s head was a soccer ball. The incident was severe enough that the boys parents had to be notified.

So naturally, we were discussing what had happened, how G felt and how he should have appropriately responded to his feelings. G kept arguing that he couldn’t help it and would have to react the same way each time. It was not the first time, or even the hundredth time, we’d had this conversation on hitting. I admit, I got frustrated to the point where I told him flat out that he was wrong, that his job as a student was not to enforce the rules but to follow the rules. After a few minutes, G said quietly, “I know you don’t like my autism brain because you’re always trying to change it. But I can’t help the things my autism brain makes me feel.”

It was a stab in the heart. I love my boy more than anything and I firmly believe that with G’s intelligence and unique way of thinking, he can change the world. And I believe to have the successful life of his choosing, he’ll need to learn certain social skills to navigate in society. I always equate it to living in a foreign country. If I were to move to Poland tomorrow, I’d have to learn to speak Polish. I could relax and speak English at home with my English speaking family, and I might be able to find some English speaking Poles to help me from time to time, but the majority of my time in Polish society, I’d have to work my brain to translate my thoughts so I could get my needs met. But in my zeal to teach G Polish, had I pushed too hard and damaged his self-esteem?

The article on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism has made me examine my methods vs my motives. In the particular example I gave with G, I feel comfortable with how I handled it and can forgive my frustration. Because physical violence as a manifestation of frustration is clearly wrong, and not taking a firm stand on that now may land him in jail later. But what about the larger context of my parenting style? Am I doing enough to show G how much I love his unique differences? Am I taking the time to celebrate his autism brain the way I should? Am I praising and rewarding G when he reacts ‘appropriately’ in social situations or only criticizing his ‘mistakes?’ Am I creating a home environment where he can relax after a day in school, or am I forcing him to speak more Polish? Am I spending enough time simply enjoying G’s company instead of getting swept up into the early-intervention paradigm that teaches parents a day without therapy is a day wasted?

I wish I’d asked myself these questions earlier. I can see now that I need to work harder at creating a loving, validating, safe environment so when we need to have discussions on the black and white issue of hitting, it doesn’t feel like I’m adding to an already huge pile of criticism.

I’d recommend checking out the series on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Even if you don’t agree with much, there’s sure to be something there that will make you think.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 10:36 am  Comments (2)  

Meeting Dr. Grandin

Temple Grandin is coming to our community to speak about Autism.  Tonight.  We’re bringing G to see her speak.  I’m wildly excited and very anxious to make this a wonderful experience for G.  You see, when we decided to explain autism to G, we made a decision to emphasize the positive aspects wherever possible.  To that end, one of the books we used to introduce and explain the concept of autism was Different Like Me:  My Book of Autism Heroes.  It discusses successful historical figures who if they were born today may have been diagnosed with autism, and talks about how their focus on their particular special interest was a source of professional success.

One page in the book is devoted to Temple Grandin so G is really looking forward to seeing her.  My concern is having the evening backfire on us.  I don’t see my active 7 year old sitting quietly for a speaker like this.  It’s also rather late in the evening for G.  The talk begins at 5:30 followed by a book signing where we hope to get her to sign her page in our book for G.  G’s current routine is dinner at 5:00, bathtime at 6:30, reading time at 7:00 and bedtime at 8:00.  Sometimes he can be flexible for a special event – but then other times he absolutely cannot.  And I’ve never been able to predict his reaction.

My hopes are way too high.  In a perfect scenario, Dr. Grandin would deliver an inspirational talk targeted directly to my son that would reinforce the message of autism we’ve crafted at home.  They’d meet after the discussion, have a wonderful moment and G would find an autistic adult he could look up to for the rest of his life.  No problem, right?

Realizing how irrational my hopes are, DH and I have a plan we’ve calmly gone over with G, stuffing all our excitement and worry deep so G won’t pick up on it.  We’re going to bring G home from school, have an early dinner and head back to the auditorium.  We’ll put coats on seats at the end of a row near the door so we can easily leave and come back as G needs breaks.  While we wait for the talk to begin, we’ll have G outside running off as much energy as possible.  We’ll have his ipad and nintendo DS at the ready with headphones so he can still hear his games.  We’ll have a bag of snacks, drink boxes and gum.  Worst case, DH and I are mentally prepared to leave whenever G is ready to go.  We may drive two cars so one of us can stay to have the book signed for G, so he isn’t disappointed in a week when he realizes what he missed by leaving.

The next two days are going to be huge.  There is the lecture tonight, a parent/teacher discussion group with Dr Grandin tomorrow morning and G’s IEP meeting in the afternoon where we discuss his transition to the intermediate school.  Wish us luck!!

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 11:28 am  Comments (2)  

We Survived Disney!

Even after our difficult trip to Florida last year, which I touch on here, we went back.  Mostly  because that’s where my inlaws live.  But also to take G back to Disney.  This year we did things differently.  We had a highly structured plan for which parks we were going to visit on what day, although we prepared G for changes due to weather.  We created an excel spreadsheet showing G visually what he would be doing.  I’m going to try to insert it here, lets see how it goes:

(note the nana night and nana day – DH and I escaped for a night in a hotel!)

We also printed maps of each park and put everything into a folder and named it the “Folder of Fun.”  Each night G would check the schedule, select the appropriate map and study for the next day’s adventure.  When we went to Aquatica (Seaworld’s water park) he knew where every ride was and the order he wanted to see them.  We just followed his lead and inserted snack/lunch breaks.  It was pretty incredible!

The first day of our theme park adventure had us going to Epcot in the afternoon so we’d be there in time for dinner at one of the country themed restaurants.  Upon entering the park, we headed straight for Guest Services.  I had G sit on a bench with DH and my inlaws while I went to the desk.  I didn’t know G had decided not to sit but to follow me, until I let the lady behind the desk know that we were visiting with a child who had autism and suddenly heard a proud voice say, “Yes.  And *I* am the person with autism!”  The woman told G she was happy he was here to see the Disney parks in a very respectful and dignified way.  It was such an incredible exchange, I almost cried.  We quickly got a red card to carry around the park and we were on our way.

The red card was magical.  If we had gotten one last year, I think our major meltdown could have been avoided.  The card helped us find shorter lines by using the disability access points and even more importantly, the disability lines were quieter.  When there was a fast pass system, we used the card to access the fastpass return line.  Which was difficult but do-able – we’d hand G his ipod so he could sink into a game and we’d herd him along whenever the line moved.  It was very similar to our Olympic experience where we found using the disability security checks and shuttles extended G’s tolerance for crowds and waits to almost typical kid levels.  (not quite, but damn close)   G was able to see and ride enough to feel like he was getting a great Disney experience and we were able to keep his emotional temperature in the manageable range. 

Aquatica and Seaworld do not have such an extensive and helpful system for people with disabilities.  But their parks were much less crowded and chaotic, so it evened out in the end.  At Aquatica, we paid extra to rent a deluxe cabana.  It was in a quieter corner of the park and came with a fridge full of water.  We brought our lunch and snacks there instead of eating in loud restaurants to get quiet breaks in the shade.  Those breaks gave G the ability to recharge enough that he was able to tolerate waiting in lines for the rides.  And the lines were never very long to begin with, so it worked great.

The last thing we did was limit our time in the parks.  Instead of going with the typical persons attitude of staying all day and hitting every ride, we got there at park open and never stayed past 2pm.  That was more than enough time for us to see plenty without taxing G beyond his limits.  We rented a house in Kissimmee with a small pool in the backyard instead of staying in a hotel which gave us the ability to create a quiet bubble for G when needed.  G has always been a water baby – even before we knew he was autistic we’d figured out that baths were soothing for him and would often spend entire afternoons watching him play in the tub.  So the pool was an excellent way to calm down and recharge in the afternoon after our mornings in the park.

All in all, I’d say we not only survived Disney, we conquered Disney!

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm  Comments (2)  

Friendship: A Two Way Street

I recently described how heartbroken I was for G when his best friend exercised his right to take a break from G and play with other kids at recess.  I worried that G wouldn’t truly understand that they were still friends, that G would feel rejected and less-than. 

Then I heard the most amazing story from G’s teacher.

G has taken BF (best friend) to his social skill sessions with the school psychologist every week for the last two years.  They also have lunch with her on this day, a special treat that they both really look forward too.  Yesterday, G invited DQ (Drama Queen, who wrote me a lovely thank you note for borrowing our Asperger’s book, I’m waiting to see how that plays out) but did *not* invite BF.  BF was stunned and while G was gone he asked their teacher if he had done something to make G mad at him.  When G returned to the classroom, she pulled the two boys to the side to talk because, “friends need to communicate with each other.” 

BF asked G what he had done to make G mad and why G hadn’t taken him to Miss L’s.  G told BF that BF had done nothing wrong, he just needed a break.  His teacher told me how he said, “Just like you sometimes need a break, sometimes I need a break.  It doesn’t mean we aren’t still friends, just that we’re also friends with other people.”  Then there was a pause before he said, “But my break wasn’t as long as your break.”

For all my angst and worry, G not only learned this friendship lesson, he flipped it and taught a valuable lesson to his neurotypical peer.  I’m so proud of him!

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 9:57 am  Comments (3)  

Friendship and Drama Queens

Boy, Friendship is an extraordinarily complex topic to teach.  Especially when the potential friend also has issues with social skills.  Without a solid example to use, it quickly becomes a quagmire of conditional rules with multiple exceptions.  “If A, then B unless B involves C, then D…”

We met with G’s teachers after school to introduce his new ipad and go over rules of use.  (ie, no games unless authorized)  As I waited for the students to leave the classroom, his teacher popped her head out, holding our copy of the book, Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome:  A Guide for Friends and Family.  She asked if she could send it home with a female classmate for the weekend.  When I said yes, she turned to the girl and told her to read it with her mother over the weekend and told her they would talk about it more on Monday.

I was instantly on guard, wondering what was going on and what I had just opened G up to by agreeing to send the book home.  We had our meeting about the ipad and after all the other teachers had left, DH took over, sending G into the hall with his headphones and ipod so we could talk privately, and he started asking what was going on with the book and the girl.  I have to say, it is always awesome when DH takes the lead like this.  Schools always take Dad’s seriously.

His teacher started to hedge a bit, saying the girl wanted to know how to be a better friend to G.  But we know G has had issues with this particular student before.  For example, the teacher has a system where if conflicts between students cannot be resolved then one of the students can write a note in the class meeting book.  At the next class meeting both parties present their side of the conflict and the class works as a team to find an equitable resolution.  It’s a great system, but this girl loves the attention at these meetings and writes about G in the book for the tiniest things.  G doesn’t even know there’s a problem before it gets brought up in front of the class and between the surprise and the attention, he has a really hard time staying calm.  I was incredibly proud of him a month ago when he expressed himself at a meeting and said he thought the girl should stop writing about him in the book and talk to him first.  The teacher agreed and now she is not to write about G without discussing it with the teacher.  Whenever I see this girl, she gushes over how much she loves having G in the class and being a friend to G.  But it feels more self-righteous than genuine, as if she’s pointing out what a great person she is for being a friend to someone like G.

With DH leading the discussion, the teacher let us know that the girl wrote a note for the confidential comment box saying she is having a hard time knowing how to be a friend to G.  But the teacher also told us that she is aware of the girl is using G to draw attention to herself, that the girl has great difficulty making friendship connections of her own because she is constantly drama seeking and G is really her only friend in class.  I got the feeling this has been discussed with the girls parents before.  I also got the feeling she sent the book home to have it read with the parents as a way to really force the issue with the family.

I know this issue is the girl’s, not G’s.  The girl needs help with her social skills, needs to learn how to be a good friend to a peer just as G does.  But I can’t help but feel defensive and resentful.  It raises every protective instinct I have – I want to tell this girl to stay away from my boy.  I also know my instincts are counter-productive and hypocritical.  If I want G’s peers to give him the benefit of the doubt while he learns social and friendship skills, then I have to extend the same tolerance to other students.  The teacher’s plan is the proper way to handle this situation.  Having the girl learn about autism with her parents is a good thing.  Parent’s of neurotypical children often have a, ‘kids will be kids’ type of attitude.  Maybe this particular situation will force them to deal with their own situation in a way it seems they haven’t in the past.

As much as I want G to learn the skills to develop and sustain friendships, because he likes kids and wants to have friends, the process is turning out to be extremely difficult.  For me, that is.  😉

**I worry about discussing issues with G’s classmates on this blog because of privacy concerns.  No matter how anonymous I try to make this blog, true anonymity on the internet is unrealistic.  I really need to get my thoughts in order on this subject but may end up making this post private to protect the student involved.**

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 10:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Friendships

G is having difficulty navigating the tricky world of friendships.  He sees the school psychologist with a neurotypical peer once a week to work on social skills and has developed a close friendship with this boy.  The trouble is, G is starting to suffocate the boy.  I witnessed it myself, I went to G’s class to participate in reading time to honor Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  There was 15 minutes of silent reading and then 15 minutes of reading to someone else.  The kids were told to pick partners and G got up, walked over to the boy, stood way too close to the boy and wouldn’t move away until the boy acknowledged G and agreed to be his partner.  During this time, G refused to talk with me or be my partner – he was focused like a laser on his friend.  Later that same day, G had a meltdown in PE because the boy would not agree to be his partner in an activity.

At our trimester conference this week, I brought up the topic of G’s friendship with the boy.  The adults all agreed that while the boy really likes G and they have fun together, G is starting to exhaust the boy.   So we came up with a plan to introduce a third boy to the weekly social skill lessons.  The teacher recommended three students she thinks would be a good fit and will ask if they are interested.  Last night, I laid the groundwork by notifying G that starting next week, he would need to take the boy and one of the three to see Miss L and further suggested that all four boys would start taking turns in the future.  He informed me that he didn’t need to take anyone else, he only needed the boy. 

We began a minor dominance struggle where I started to tell him to either take two boys or no boys to see Miss L.  But something stopped me.  I decided that being honest about the reasons might be the way to go.  So we sat down and I quietly spoke to him about Asperger Syndrome, explaining that for him, it meant understanding the unwritten rules of friendship is difficult.  I explained that the boy really likes being G’s friend, but likes having other friends too.  I talked about how everybody needs a break sometimes and used DH and myself as an example, telling him that we are best friends but sometimes need to be with other people or to be alone.  G disagreed, saying he only needed to be with the boy but conceded the point that he has trouble with understanding friendships and behavior.  I got him to agree to trust me to tell him what those rules are for now.  And then he agreed to invite a third to his meetings with Miss L, selecting one of the recommended students. 

This situation makes me feel very anxious.  G has a strong desire to socialize and play with peers and will notice if he’s left out or shunned.  We’re working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen by teaching him what we can and fostering understanding in his classmates.  But there are limits to what we can do as adults.  I’m worried we’re reaching that point where the other kids give up on G because it is too difficult and awkward for them.  I’m holding my breath, hoping this new plan of introducing new boys and letting the original boy take a break will work.

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 10:27 am  Comments (2)