Some simple rules I learned early on:
You are not alone.
Recognize you are not an expert, but always trust your gut.
Work WITH the team.
While I have given 37 days tricks, experiences, and thoughts – the real ‘thing’ is the spectrum itself. Every child is different – so there isn’t a ‘mold’ that will work for every child with Autism. I am an expert at helping my child, my husband helped me understand that I know best for him. I am not an expert at helping yours, but if any of what I have found helps you – then that is my current and continued goal.
Great outcomes come when all the people that surround the child work together. Autism’s ‘symbol’ (of sorts) is a puzzle piece. Why? Not because all of the children on the spectrum are good at puzzles (although Tucker is a total whiz bang) but because Autism is a mystery. I have a piece, his classroom teacher has a piece, his special education teacher has a piece, his coaches have a piece – when we all work together – amazing things can (and do) happen.
In 5th Grade…
I get a call from the lovely Mrs. Anderson. “Tucker was getting ornery and obstinate in the afternoon. Is there anything I could think of? Was he telling me anything at home?”
I asked, “Does it happen every day around the same time. If so, what time?” About 1:00. Then, I started thinking. Think. Think. Think. What could it be? Self, you know him best – what could be eating at him.
“What time does he eat lunch?”
“They eat right after 11.”
“Oh well, he’s hungry.”
I know this seems simplistic and silly – but it’s not. There are SO many things that these children are trying to process to simply survive…so Tucker often doesn’t recognize if he’s hungry or full, tired or awake, hot or cold (all of that will be covered in a future post). So, I proposed that we tried giving him a snack in-between classes. Guess what? It worked.
In 7th Grade…
I received a message from his Literacy teacher a couple of weeks ago, he was having trouble understanding point of view. He took the test three times and could not pass. This frustrated Mrs. Peterson (who is also lovely). Why? Because she’s a good teacher. Because she wants to help him. She wants him to learn. She wants the best for him.
Well, of course he was struggling. Remember (Day #36 – My Attorney)? Exactly – his point of view is his own. While he has the ability to empathize with others – he has difficulty understanding something from a different point of view. He doesn’t really ‘get’ fiction.
She asked, “Do you have any ideas – I know you’ve asked us to contact you the second we are struggling to reach him.”
Then, I started thinking. Think. Think. Think. What could WE do? Self, you know him best.
I sure do. I sure do know what to do – for my sports lover. Use the Vikings…then it becomes something that is concrete, something real. (Disclosure: This was before AP’s naughtiness)