The Yell Factor

Okay…sort of a continuation of last week.

So…how is it that I don’t yell?

Some of it is personality and disposition. I’m naturally cheery and positive.  I wake up smiling and talking (which can be quite annoying to some folks).  A couple of weeks ago I had this conversation  with my husband.

Me:  Okay, so I have something to say that’s not very nice.
Him:  Let’s hear it.
I said what I needed to say.
Him:  I just have to tell you that I REALLY like it when you are mean.
Me:  What?!?!
Him:  It makes you seem normal…like the rest of us out here.  I mean, I don’t want you to be mean like the rest of us…but it takes away the pressure.   You are always nice and try to see everyone’s angle in every conversation/situation, you generally don’t judge, anyone.  When other people are mean to you, you are hurt but you assume they weren’t trying to be nasty. Just once in awhile I like it when you are mean, but your mean really isn’t that mean…it’s just mean for you.

So..yes…that could be some of it. My disposition, that is.
So..yes…that could be some of it. My unassuming, that is.
So..yes…that could be some of it. My perception checking, that is.

Honestly, I think it has more to do with my nature of being a teacher.   Teaching is more than my job – teaching is who I am.  It’s just one of the reasons that I love being Tucker’s mom…and why I welcome autism with open arms.

Autism is just that…it’s a thing.  I don’t ever feel the need to ‘defeat’ it or ‘defend’ it – it’s a thing which makes my child different, not bad.  I don’t feel it’s something that needs to be cured, it is a thing that allows me to be even more me.

It is autism and I am a teacher.

I am not just a teacher.  I am a teacher, it’s what I was born to do…in the same way my dad tells everyone he was born to farm.

It’s my giftedness.

When I was a child my mom had antique school desks…I used them daily.  I sat my stuffed animals in rows and made them take math tests.  I created essay tests.  I graded papers.  While other children were shooting hoops, climbing trees, or playing Barbie’s I was playing…teaching (not school…I never played the role of student).


As I aged, I always wanted to help my teachers.  I helped make bulletin boards and took the erasers to the back of the building and beat them on the brick wall.  I offered to help other students.

I wanted to be a teacher from the moment I remember thinking about what I wanted to be.  Honestly…it may be genetic.  My Grandma was a teacher and I have four aunts that are (or went to school to be) teachers.

Get ready.  Here it is.  My secret to this ‘no yell’ thing.  It’s not rocket science…I promise you.  This is how I don’t yell. I turn every frustrating moment I can into an opportunity to teach.

An example?  Tucker read the lessons at church a couple of weeks ago.  As we were sitting have cookies and punch (like we do after every service) people were telling him what a great job he did.

He did not respond.

That could have made me angry.  I could have thought that he was simply being rude and inconsiderate.  I could have raised my voice and said, “TUCKER!  Come on! These people are paying you a compliment!  Show some respect and say thank you.”

Alas…that would have accomplished nothing but a quivering lip and a sad face.


Because he didn’t know.  That type of reciprocity in conversation is not natural.

I looked at my husband and said, “He doesn’t know.”  To which he said (in a calm ‘teaching’ voice), “Tucker.  When someone comes to you to tell you that you did a great job reading you need to look at them.  You look at them so they know you heard them.  Then say, ‘Thank you’ because they are giving you a compliment.”

Tucker responded, “Oh.  Okay.”

From that point on he responded in thanks.

We chose a cheery disposition.
We assumed the best and recognized he mostly likely didn’t know how to respond.
We checked our perception by thinking deeply about the situation – trying to find a reason he was not responding in a suitable way.
So, we taught him.  Taught him without raising voices, taught him without frills, taught him in a matter-of-fact way.

People don’t learn through yelling.  People don’t learn by simply being told.  People learn through thorough, meaningful explanation.  People learn by being shown and practicing a new and/or different way.

I’m a teacher which means I have an understanding of process and mistake-making.  I relish in the imperfect. Tucker is simply a young man whose understanding of the world lies in explicit meanings, unfortunately he lives in a world full of implicitness.

All things must be taught, and I am a teacher.

2 thoughts on “The Yell Factor

  1. I’m studying special education and I think it takes a certain type of personality to become a teacher. You definitely have the qualities of being an understanding and compassionate teacher who instead of yelling, simply explains and models. We need more teachers like this.

    People also think that I’m “too nice” and never mean to others. I guess it’s just not in our nature and I’m absolutely okay with that. 🙂

    Thank you for this post.


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