The Star: Telling my son’s first grade class about autism

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Yesterday my youngest turned seven. SEVEN! He is in First Grade, and every student is his class has an opportunity to be Star Student of the Week near the time of their birthday. He was instructed to make a poster about himself and present it to his classmates. He was also allowed to bring someone with him to help explain more about himself and his heritage. My son and I decided that this was the perfect time to explain to his classmates about Autism. Earlier this year we explained it to him for the first time, and he was glad to learn more about how his unique brain worked, and is now proud to share that information with other people.

I have long wanted to talk with my son’s class about Autism (let’s call him Josh), and that desire has increased as the school year progressed. Most of his classmates are very kind to him, but a few have started to notice and comment negatively on some of his behaviors. He struggles at times with peer interaction, so I thought maybe things would get easier for him if I explained more about his personality to the other children. Continue reading

In His Own World (and that’s right where he needs to be sometimes)

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All the kids on my cul-de-sac are playing outside… all the kids except my youngest, who has Autism. At this point I know better than to make him go outside. In a bit I will, but he just got home from school and I know he needs time to decompress. Sometimes it breaks my heart to see him be so isolated, hear the joyful shrieks coming from outside while I watch him playing alone in the den, but I know that is about ME. At the moment it doesn’t bother HIM. I remind myself that this alone time is actually what he needs after a long, taxing day at school where he had to interact with people, navigate rules, struggle to pay attention, and constantly regulate his behavior. The problem is that what usually happens is in an hour or so after he has recharged his batteries he will suddenly decide he wants to go outside and see the other kids. Sadly, that tends to be when the other kids decide they are done and ready to go inside. And then he cries and cries, and I cry with him. So today, to avoid the inevitable tears, I will try to encourage him to go outside and play after allowing 30 minutes of down time. I just hope that the other kids are still out there.

It is so painful sometimes, watching my son interact, attempt to interact, or refuse to interact, with those other children. It’s not that I don’t love or accept him for who he is, but it hurts when I see him struggle. He has a dynamic personality (VERY not boring!), is a natural performer, and can be quite engaging. I want others to see that~ despite the fact that he is still working at learning social skills, handling frustration, and understanding that some bodily function jokes are NOT appropriate.  EVER.  Continue reading