Sometimes life kicks you right in the poodle.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Inspiration

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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...

27 comments:

  1. This is probably a good idea. And if a note is sent, maybe other parents will get the hint that their kids are not acting so kindly. ...It is hard that he does these things that kids don't understand, but awareness is so necessary!

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    1. It sure is Daniele! Yeah, we'll see how it goes. I feel fairly optimistic at the moment.

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  2. Well done!!! On the right track, as always! Is he in a really small school or is there just no funding for E.A.'s? Rowan's school has 360 kids, K to Grade 9. There are one full time and one half time E.A. in his Grade one class of 24!!!And I have no idea about the rest of the grades. But in his class there is one child O.D.D. and one other little girl who just needs some extra help.And we're in AB. where the gov't hates all the schools! Anyhoo, hope it all goes well. I have great faith in Jack! And in you. Best of luck.

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    1. Thank you, and good question Leanne: re; why there are so few EA's. It may be a school board funding thing. I think I'll have to do a little digging.

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  3. Firstly,I want to say that you are ONE HELL of a woman.
    I admire women being able to cope with having children,period,let slone those coping with the challenges of children with various issues.
    I've read the last post and this with great interest.
    My girlfriend,Gillian, has a daughter with Downs Syndrome and a son with Crohns disease.I have another girlfriend whose 2 sons are autistic,in different levels.I look on in wonder at how you all take on these mountainous issues,head on;the pure love that drives you,and it blows me away.
    I don't have anything helpful to say,really,just GO HARD.These little assholes learn from their parents and peers that "difference" is to be feared.It's bloody not.Dumbasses will find relating to those who are different far more rewarding that with boring narrow minded shitheads.
    You,and Jack,frigging ROCK.
    XXXXXXXX

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    1. thanks Helga! I think, as women, we're often very fierce inside and that really comes to the forefront when we have kids who need to be protected from the cold cruel world. And you're right: difference is NOT scary. I'm going to incorporate that into my spiel.

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  4. i would hate being a teacher. having to be surrounded every day by piles of children who act stupid and never having enough resources to properly do what needs to be done, let alone kids having needs that they can't meet.
    we put a lot of responsibility on the teachers who spend all day with our kids. and rightly so. but they're only one person in a roomful of personalities that want to be contrary and who were all brought up differently. i would hate being a teacher.
    you're doing great, kar. you're his hero even if he doesn't know it yet. someday he will. he won't necessarily thank you. he'll probably mock your cough and say something about how you chew and then chin you and call you stu, but he'll know in his heart that you'd do anything for him.
    and he'll learn how to treat other people eventually. and then someday, he'll probably be a really great dad. because you guys taught him how to do that.

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    1. Sherilin, I agree! Teaching is a hard job. And it's not even that they're just teachers any longer. Kids are starting school even earlier, and I think some of them are showing up still not potty trained. Plus, there's no more "special ed", so a lot of kids who truly need extra help (and more than Jack who needs a lot of reassurance, and some extra time to do things), are shuffled in with everyone else.
      Yup, you summed it up perfectly.

      Maybe Jack even kinda knows now, and that's why it's mostly me who is the only one allowed to do stuff for him. Oh, and the "stu's" have really come down lately.

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  5. Good job! You are your his advocate! Well payed for sure! Plus a great song at the end!

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    1. Thank you jennie! I am his advocate! DAMN STRAIGHT! I feel all pumped now.

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  6. Hurrah! You are super Mum! And it's lucky you have an understanding teacher to hopefully help you to. I do have an inate distrust of teachers as they bullied me too, but that was back in the 80s and 90s, they're a lot better now. Big love and I hope you get it sorted - if Jack can master the copying inside his head then that would be amazing xxxxxx

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    1. Oh I agree with you Miss Simmonds: a LOT of teachers are total jerks, and just as closed-minded as the kids.
      I'm really working on this copying thing. It's going to be a very hard OCD to break.

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  7. you are full of great ideas, who knows maybe you will go on the talk circuit, informing kids and parents about these issues. i think dsbn would be all over this,esp. if you did it for free!anyhoo i will pray for you and your family.

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    1. Thanks Paula. You're very sweet, as always.

      You know Paula, that would be awesome--ESPECIALLY if I got paid for it! I'd totally do it.

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  8. Wow, Karen, you haven't let the grass grow under your feet on this one, good for you! You truly ARE inspired.
    Thank goodness Jack's teacher is a good one and up for all your brilliant suggestions. I think you will do such a great job of talking to the kids.
    And I am SO impressed that alongside tackling the issues of Jack being targeted and bullied, you are also prepared to try and tackle some stuff with Jack himself. It is never acceptable for anyone to pick on another person because of their differences, that's a given. But to be able to discuss with Jack the things he does which can make him hard to be around, and find strategies to help - now that is really great stuff. Hopefully if he can start to make some headway with the copying in his head idea, he'll get a sense of mastery and control. And we all need to feel that, otherwise the world is too chaotic and terrifying for words.
    You're an inspiration, Karen! xxxxxxxxx

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    1. thank you Curtise. That is exactly right: when we master ourselves, we are less susceptible to the chaos of the world. Very true.

      It's all going fairly well so far!

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  9. i just watched an awsome documentary, that talks about autism, savants and how the brain works..really cool. if you go to 'top documentaries' click on 'psychology' the doc is callled 'the boy with the incredable brain'.let me know what you think.

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  10. I think it is a wonderful idea, especially your interview with Jack. I wish you the best of luck with it.

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  11. Yes, hopefully I'll be able to do this, Sprite. I think the principal may be a little leery at this point, but then, we haven't discussed my ideas together yet.

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  13. Hi Karen,

    I just wrote something else, but it was way toooo long for a comment, so here's a short version of the main point.

    I think what you are talking about doing is WONDERFUL, and it will make a difference to some of those kids and how they do things. But many of those children have limitations which have to be considered, too, such as that moral reasoning develops at different rates in different brains, and that some of them will not be up to the task of connecting their behaviour with the idea of bullying until they mature a bit more.

    I wish you all the luck and love in the world, for fighting your and Jack's battles! You sound like a wonderful mother, and he is lucky to have you. Cheers, Tina

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    1. thanks Tina! By the way: never worry about a comment being too long here!

      You make a good point about how I should go about this. Yes, I agree about age level vs reasoning. I have no intentions of making it a talk about bullying. What I was hoping to do was "introduce" Jack to the class, and point out some of the things he does, which they already know about, and how he can't help it. I was also going to use these issues as a comparison to issues we all have: ie; phobias, etc.

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    2. I think it's a beautiful idea. We will all be cheering you on.

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    3. Thank you Tina. That will be TUESDAY after school!

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  14. I got engrossed in this. It's fascinating. And I think your ideas should be tried. You have to keep trying until something works. And the kid will remember that you didn't give up on him. That is more valuable than life itself.

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  15. Thanks Fred. I will not give up on my son, and helping him have the happiest life he can have.

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