xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: The Talk

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Talk

The Talk: That's when you go in front of your kid's class and explain about autism and how your kid is different but still okay. Have any of you guys done this? I know a lot of people who have and today I did a modified version of it. It was actually a regular "discussion period" the class has, but today the topic was "kids who are different and don't want to play with you when you ask them to." It was the second in a 2 part series, the first one I was informed of after the fact, and my only purpose was to be available for questions if the kids had any. I was not comfortable with the idea of standing in front of all these fucking inquisitive NT kids, explaining what autism is and why my kid doesn't want to play with them when they ask, although I was given the choice. I was actually given the choice to do whatever I wanted, but I chose to sit in the back and listen, and be available for questions.

First of all, I was REALLY uncomfortable with the idea of "let's send Child 1 and his buddy with ADHD out of the room so that we can talk about them." Doesn't that seem weird to you? But, this was their regular speech time, they're always pulled out together on Wednesdays at 2:00, so it wasn't unusual for them to be asked to leave the room. It was unusual to see me standing in the hallway on the way out, but he was cool with it. And the nature of the conversation would have been pretty uncomfortable for them to have been around for, at least for the kid with ADHD. Anyway, I thought it was weird, and it didn't feel right, but I guess there's no other way to do this?

The teacher lead the discussion, and I really like her. She talked about how sometimes kids don't want to play with you when you ask them to, sometimes they want to just do their own thing, and if you want to play with them, what are some things you can do, instead? I was very impressed at how sweet and sensitive all these kids are. They all claimed to have asked him to play at one point, and he said no, and they knew that he would rather draw roads in the wood chips than play tag with them. They said if they wanted to play with him they could ask if they could draw in the wood chips, too. They said that they knew he liked to go on the see-saw and they liked pushing him up and down on it.

I was asked "when I ask him to play and he says no, what should I do?" What an awesome question. I explained that, first and foremost, it doesn't mean that he doesn't like them, it just meant that he wants to do his own thing. I said they could ask again, if they wanted to, or they could just leave him alone and remember that it wasn't personal. They actually had a lot more to say about the other kid who left the room. I know this kid, if there is any kid in the world you could call Child 1's friend, it would be this kid. He's very outgoing, veeeery sweet and has a lot of sensory and impulse control issues. He's more likely to ask to play and be rejected than to be asked. Honestly? I was really glad the things they were saying about him weren't about my kid. Not because it was mean, which it wasn't, it just sounded like his social life is so much more difficult for him to manage. He's so much more in your face than my kid and is a lot more noticeable; you have to make a serious effort to interact with Child 1, you do not need to make any effort whatsoever to interact with this other kid.

Kids can be so mean, but these kids were not. At least not in the presence of the adults in the room. They said "Child 1 is very sweet." They really seemed to want to play with him. I'm so dreading Middle School. I almost started crying at one point, but I held it together. Sigh.

Related, from Special Happens.



14 comments:

Dani G said...

I haven't done this... yet. But I do write a book each year and leave it in the classroom, encouraging the normies and their parents to read it together.

See?? http://www.imjustthatway.com/2010/09/my-favorite-book-is-one-i-wrote.html

JennieB said...

1. Thank god I met you people with older kids who can inform me that I may have to do things like this.
2. I'm now considering sending Moe to private school his whole life just so I never have to do this talk. Maybe I'll just steal Dani's book. (BTW, I think every kid should have to make a book like this, not just the "special" ones.)

Rebecca said...

I'm worried about when Joey is in (real)school. I mean with the huge birthmark, several scars, can't walk right, huge brace on his leg, bulging eye that sometimes pulsates. I feel like he's walking around with a huge neon, flashing target on him.

Right now, he's in preschool and I just want to keep him there forever.

Domestic Goddess said...

We did the Talk, three years in a row. I went in and talked to them. And, we didn't send them out of the room, with their parents' permission (six kids on the spectrum in my boy's room this year). You know what? It went well. I read them All Cats Have Asperger's. I read them "My Brother is Different" and "Ian's walk". They got it. They understood it. And afterwards, I had many kids come up and tell me what "their autism" is. Like not being able to tie their shoes. Or having a short fuse when there is too much noise in the room. It was pretty awesome.

Big Daddy Autism said...

Nice that they gave you the opportunity to speak. We've also found that most kids are curious and confused and not mean or malicious. As far as middle school - stop worrying about it. He's not going there today or tomorrow and, if our experience is any indication, it's not as bad as you think. In fact, this year, Griffin's first in middle school has proabably been the best year of his life. Mine too.

Ashley said...

Oh geez. When I got my autism membership card, they did not mention these kinds of requirements. I am also glad to meet you pros now. Teach me, O wise ones! =)

tootertotz said...

For what its worth, I think your perception of the students is pretty accurate. There are always going to be a few asshole kids. Still, more of the children are kind and simply curious about all people who are different in any way. And they all want to learn the best way to handle the situation so it is perfect that you were able to offer them that direction.

My experience with this is as a special ed teacher in elementary. I admire you going in and making yourself available for this bc it would seem really uncomfortable, I agree.

Cheryl D. said...

I'm glad "The Talk" went so incredibly well. It's great that your son is in such a supportive environment!

@jencull said...

Uh, we don't do things like that here, at least I have never ever heard of it. I can see that it would be difficult but also that it would have benefits. Don't know how I would feel about it though! Jen

kwesleyweaver said...

Found you blog on "Top Mommy". Funny stufF! You've got a new follower. I have two boys with Aspergers (12 and 15) so I need the occasional laugh! Come by and visit me at http://www.confessionsofanaspergersmom.blogspot.com.

Kelly said...

This is so inspiring! We have Big T in a "typical preschool", but our ABA attends for hours everyday training the teachers and helping T. I have been told by several teachers that the NTs have noticed T's issues and are asking questions. I bought "My Brother Charlie", "My Friend with Autism" and a third, which I cannot remember. The kiddos' listened, but basically at this age, these kids aren't really mentally ready to make accommodations or allowances, we have found. I am still on the inclusion/special class fence, but your blog showed a very nice situation is possible.

Lynn said...

I guess there's no perfect way to do it...I could see why you would want to have them out of the room. As weird as that seems, it would be weirder if they were right there being talked about in front of them. Good for you for gutting it out!

Jessica said...

If you just keep doing this stuff now middle school will be a breeze. By the time we hit middle school, Ashlyn had a whole community of kids behind her who had her back. Middle school was when I really saw how good kids can be as long as someone didn't leave them guessing as to how to handle my daughter. And don't worry about it yet, your child 1 sounds like a loved guy.

K- floortime lite mama said...

u r sooo brilliant

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