My little dude is a quirky one and his Kindergarten peers are noticing. They are noticing that he talks out loud to himself. They know he doesn’t like to be touched. We had some issues the first semester with a few of the kids poking and touching him just to get a reaction. Mrs. KT (Kindergarten Teacher) was on top of it and immediately put a stop to it and did some peer education and even brought in the school counselor to talk about bullying and what it means, etc. After that things seemed to be going much smoother.
This semester however, Henry began coming home more agitated about school. When I would ask him about how his day went he would say, “Worse!”
Eventually, over several weeks I was able to get him to talk about what was going on at school. Apparently a few boys were chasing him out on the playground threatening to touch him. I didn’t say anything right away to the school as I was hoping we could work with Henry at home on how he could advocate for himself at school. Also, I did not want to assume that Henry was completely blame-free in this situation because he can sometimes give mixed messages. You know, that whole social/emotional deficit and not picking up on social cues!
But when he continued to come home upset I finally brought it to Mrs. KT’s attention. It turns out she was unaware this was happening outside. We talked and she immediately set to work on reminding the class about bullying. Grant and I had a meeting with her, Henry’s SSD teacher, and the school counselor. Once I brought the issue to their attention they were ON IT. I was impressed. And relieved. It’s so good to know that we’ve got a great team for Henry!
Mrs. KT had suggested a couple of times that she thought it would be a good idea if I come into the class to talk to the kids a little bit about autism and a lot about how we are all different and yet the same. At first, I was excited about the idea and felt good about how great an opportunity Henry’s teachers were giving me! Then I panicked. How could I do this? I’m just a mom, not an educator! I have no idea what I’m doing! I tried to punt this over to the experts at TouchPoint Autism Services but Mrs. KT insisted that she thought it would have much more impact coming from me. I was not getting out of this one.
I immediately went to my Facebook page with this news. The outpouring of support and the generosity of other mommy bloggers sharing their ideas with me and offering to help was amazing! (Thank you, Caffeinated Autism Mom!) I poured over some of my favorite blogs that I knew had written about similar situations in the past. My first stop was Mom-NOS with her now famous Hair-Dryer Kid in a Toaster-Brained World. And I got a lot of suggestions from TouchPoint as well!
I’ve pulled together a very rough outline for three to five 20- minute learning sessions that I will take with me into Henry’s classroom; the first one is to happen next week just after our spring break. I’m nervous. Still, I’m doing this for Henry and all kids on the autism spectrum. This is a wonderful opportunity to promote awareness and acceptance that I cannot turn my back on. These are kids that Henry will be growing up with and going to school with for a long time.
As with the autism itself, the earlier the intervention the better, the same goes for awareness and acceptance, beginning with Henry’s Kindergarten class. The sooner, the better!