Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dear Noah....Day Three of the Walking Zombie...

Again when I picked you up from school your face revealed the "walking zombie" expression. I know I personally am exhausted from all the running around we have done lately with trick-or-treating, and birthdays, and other seasonal events. But I don't want to get off on a tangent about me.

This afternoon before you came out another mother went up to another little boy standing there and loudly told him to basically quit hitting on her son. I have no idea the details other than she apparently saw this little boy pushing and shoving her son's head and body around. I know sometimes boys will play like that and it looks much worse than it is but I also know how I feel when I see the same thing happening to you. And then it hit me. Oh great, something else I might have to worry about? A parent coming up to me telling me or you to stop pushing or shoving their child around? Or trying to bite them? I imagine some would not even care that there could be an explanation for your behavior. In a public setting it really makes no difference and you MUST learn what is and what is not socially acceptable. The sooner the better off for everyone involved.

You have been trying to "fit in" by mimicking the other boys and girls...something I was afraid might happen...and something I am not really thrilled about; because some of the mimicking is for expressions or phrases that only get you into trouble. You are extremely naive and impressionable. I have surrounded you with nothing but as many positive people and circumstances as possible your entire life. I admit I have sheltered you from the rougher reality of the world and the people in it. It was always much easier to tell you to just stay away from kids who played rough than it was to let you get in the mix and watch while something triggered a major meltdown response or worse from you.

Because you are in the public school system again and in a regular classroom for most of the day I am aware that this can be exhausting for the teacher even with the help of a paraprofessional. When I have told them you would need "constant prompting" on specific things before you would "get it" I am getting the impression perhaps they underestimated what I was trying to tell them. Now they are getting a taste of what true constant prompting and redirection means. It can test your patience and also tire you very quickly if you allow it. When I home-schooled you I controlled your environment and world. I could teach you things much faster because I controlled the outside stimulus. This was good and bad. Good because you learned positive behaviors and more academically, but also bad because you have no clue now how to handle some situations that might be less than desirable. Of course even if you had always been exposed to the rougher reality it does not mean you would know any better ways to handle those situations because your reality is you just do not even understand what is going on. You do not understand when someone says "oh you dog!" that they are joking around and it only needs to be said once. You figure if they got such a good response saying it once saying it ten times would be even funnier. This however only disrupts class those few minutes longer than it usually would.

Today was to be a day when the teacher had "a talk" with the other students about things such as this. How specific things they say and do around you only cause you to then do the same in return and not just once. You do it many times, over and over again. This has to stop and the teacher felt if she had a talk explaining this to the other students maybe it would help. You and your paraprofessional were not going to be in the room during this time. I do know the teacher was not going to say anything direct about your "autism" which I think is best. No need to single you out even further than necessary.

When I asked your paraprofessional if the teacher had the talk today she did not know because the teacher apparently left early to go home sick. She told me you had a great day today though and that you did well.

I see a need here, a common trait among many autistic children, are the social aspects they just do not grasp and are missing. There has to be overall instruction to provide a link, both at home and at school. It should consist of constant prompting and redirection while being exposed to specific, controlled social situations. The free-for-all whatever happens theory used in a regular classroom may not be the best way possible to accomplish this. I think it will take specific classes and training to learn this. AND YOU CAN learn these will just take you some time. It does not come natural or instinctively for you like it does with most other children.

So we have a lot to get busy with Noah! I love you!


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