So, I talked to Jack's teacher tonight about my concerns about bullying, and Jack being a target.
First, I want to say that I really like Jack's teacher. I think she's great. She's very thorough, and she tries her best to keep the general shit that happens to a minimum. I think what we have to consider is that teachers essentially have to be both teachers and Educational Assistants these days. In Canada an "E.A." is a teacher's assistant who also helps with children with special needs. That's about all we gots.
And of course, we are grossly lacking in these people in our educational system. Once again...another area where our kids on the Spectrum are lacking the support they need.
There is only ONE E.A. for Jack's entire school. One. I love her to pieces. She is WONDERFUL. But, she's the only one. And, now there is a kid in the school who very much needs her help, so Jack only gets to see her for like half a period a day.
But, this is a whole n'other issue.
As I was saying about Jack's teacher: she really tries to be on top of things. This is nearly impossible to do 100% of the school day. I told her the two stories I told all of you; how two kids in Jack's class immediately saw him as a target, once they understood the concept of bullying. This made me very sad.
Here is the challenging part though: Jack is not the easiest kid to "live" with. I am absolutely not putting blame in his corner. One of his biggest problems is MIMICKING. You know--copying other kids. Jack has always had a great interest in different sounds. One of them is COUGHING. So, every time a kid coughs, Jack mimics that cough. If a kid scrapes their chair, Jack scrapes his chair. He also does this if someone cries.
It drives the other kids CRAZY. I get this. I've been working on the copying issue ever since he started nursery school. It's always driven kids insane. It's always been a bone of contention. It's always been our sticking point. I've often told Jack that if he could just learn to stop copying his friends, nobody would get angry at him anymore.
If Jack likes something: a joke, or whatever, he will tell that joke TO DEATH. He will DRIVE YOU TO DRINK with it. That's just one thing about spectrum disorders: that obsessive repetition and focus. It's great at producing a ton of quality art in a day, but not so great if you don't want to hear for the billionth time how hilarious your cough sounded last month.
So, I told the teacher that I know Jack is hard to take at times, but I was saddened that he becomes the butt of the joke, and that he is a target. I know which boys he's always had trouble with. Some of them have been dealt with. They often have chats on being understanding of other people's differences in class. But, because it was never the teacher's place to name kids specifically, whom everyone should have more tolerance for, it didn't reach everyone.
I said that I would like to come in and have a friendly chat with the class. I would like to tell everyone that when Jack does these things he just can't help it. He's not trying to make fun of anyone, he's genuinely interested in what they're doing. I would also--if Jack's willing--like to "interview" Jack during my chat. I'd ask Jack a few questions about his interests and show the other kids that he's a real person, and not some weird kid in their class.
I would not use the word Autism. Why? Am I ashamed? Absolutely not. However, I think this would be wonderful leverage to a grade 2 kid who wants to make fun of Jack. So I would be more clever, more subtle. I want the chance to explain things in ways the other kids can relate.
I have lots of ideas on how I'd talk to them. I would ask them how they'd feel if they were a mommy or daddy, and they found out people were making fun of their son.
Jack's teacher was concerned that if I "reveal" all of Jack's weaknesses, it will give them more ammo to bug him. But I think everyone already knows about his fear of noise, and his mimicking. I can work with this.
I also suggested that the teacher could send a note home letting parents know that Jack's MOM will be coming into the classroom to have a friendly chat about compassion, and tolerance for kids with special needs.
Jack's teacher thinks all of this sounds like a great idea. She just has to run it by the principal first.
So, my brain is whirling with ideas. I wish, deep down inside, I could just blend into the woodwork, and not have to deal with issues like this, but if I have to, then damn it, I'll do it.
I'm thinking about this COPYING hurdle as well. Once and for all. As I was walking home with Jack, I told him that we are going to solve this problem. We are going to solve it together, and then everyone will see how smart and fun he is, and not be angry at him any longer or think he's a pest.
I'm going to practice with him. I told him that when he hears someone cough, he has to learn to copy IN HIS BRAIN, NOT WITH HIS MOUTH. There are going to be rewards, and I'm going to keep track with the teacher to see how he's doing. I told Jack that he is smart, and we are smart, and we can learn to do anything. After all, he learned how to draw, and to write words, and to read, I told him, so he can learn how to do this.
Right now, I feel good. I feel inspired. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, but who cares.
Now let's dance.
to be continued...