It seems that one sweet little girl got her name called during the announcements for winning a character award that Liam did not win. This was, apparently, unacceptable in his mind, so she deserved to have a few school supplies missing from her cubby when she got back from snack time.
Poor guy. In Liam's eyes, life is just not very fair. He doesn't understand why sometimes his name is called to win a character award (Perseverance three years in a row-can't say he doesn't deserve THAT one!), and why sometimes other people's names are called.
I've tried to explain sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I think I've even sung Kenny Rogers "The Gambler", but nothing seems to make sense to him. And, if I stop to think about it, to explain this concept is pretty difficult. It is very abstract- something that Liam cannot categorize in his mind full of folders and filing systems.
What he understands are things that are never-changing and constant. Like concepts of math and grammar, and the news anchor, Holly Thompson, at 7:27am on Channel 4 news. And, like whenever he says, "But, mom, I don't want to do that," I always reply with, "Too bad." (Sometimes when I don't say, 'too bad', he asks me to say it just so all is right with his universe--- I wish I was kidding.)
This poor little girl probably got really upset by the fact that Liam stole her goods. But, I know she understands the big picture.
I know this because every year I go into Liam's classroom and give a little presentation about autism. I tell the class a bit about how the brain works and how Liam's brain works differently than theirs. Many times they will ask questions about Liam and his behaviors. We usually do it when Liam is pulled out of the classroom for reading, so his classmates feel the freedom to ask the sometimes tough questions.
Some of you may question my reasons for doing this. Don't you want him just to blend in with his peers? Don't you want him to feel as 'normal' as possible?
|Cerebral scan of autistic brain.|
I have found that the more information people have, the more equipped they are to have empathy and understanding for the situation. I can see the lightbulbs go off in these children's minds when they start to understand what Liam is going through.
The fact is that Liam is not 'normal'. He doesn't behave in appropriate ways a lot of the time. He's getting better, but it's not missed on the other children that he is sometimes talking to himself or laughing out loud when he shouldn't be. But, the other tricky part is that Liam also doesn't 'look' the part of an autistic or special needs child. He does blend in at first with his peers, and if you are not looking for symptoms, you might not notice.
But, that can become problematic when he does break a school rule and gets a consequence that may look different than what the other kids get. If he throws a book across the room, he might be asked to simply take a break. If these kids did not know his condition, they might begin to hold him in contempt. "Why does he get special treatment?" "If I did that, I would lose all of my recess.""Hey! That was a perfectly good book!"
I did this when we played baseball (or attempted to play). I sent an email out at the beginning of the season explaining Liam's condition and that I would appreciate their patience. I was amazed at the compassion that the parent's had on Liam, and even that they would explain things to their own children about learning to cooperate and being patient with others that are different.
Being open and honest has worked for us. I know there are some families who choose not to be open about their child's diagnosis, and that is okay too. But, it seems that when I am comfortable with my son and autism, everyone else seems to relax too.
And, hopefully, these trips to the principal's office will be fewer and farther between. Mr. Parman, our school's principal, is a kind and patient man and has watched our little Liam grow up leaps and bounds over the years. He admitted the other day that he will be really sad when Liam and his ever-present light leaves his elementary school next year.
|Liam with two of his buddies. So sweet!!|
If the latter happens, that's one opportunity that being uncool will be just fine with me.