The kiddos are here! Another fun-filled summer ahead of us, with as many electronics and wild times as possible!
It’s not all fun and games, though. One of the challenges we face is that Christopher (who is on the autism spectrum) is now using the term “autistic” as both a derogatory and teasing label for his sibs and friends. Last year it was “retard,” along with the ubiquitous “smokin’ hot.” Obviously, he has been taught that “autistic” is not a good thing and/or draws attention. (For him, all attention, whether positive or negative, is pretty much OK.)
Another change: Christopher no longer makes me chase him down for a hug while disguised as a “hug-hating” ninja or ghost! He chases me down for a side arm hug, his eyes glistening with mischief. What a sweetheart!
My nephew, Christopher, now lives in Texas. (If you are new to this blog, I tutored Christopher for the past 2 years. He’s a moderate functioning kiddo on the autism spectrum.) His new teacher seems really nice but has limited control over the classroom. For kids on the spectrum, weak classroom management can be devastating. In Christopher’s case, he relies heavily upon a well-structured class with clear boundaries. Despite acting up significantly at home, Christopher is adamant that he will not tantrum at school. My fear is that he will start to copy his classmates. They may easily recover with a structured classroom, but my nephew can get stuck in a cycle of misbehavior. At first, he thought it was slightly amusing that the teacher had numerous “talks” with kiddos, mostly because it wasn’t him. Now he is struggling with the stress of misbehaving kids and probably the temptation to act up himself.
My contact with Christopher has been sporadic since school started. We use Google hangouts but the time difference is challenging. Most likely he needs a different classroom, but I’m trying to address the issues for him the best I can. I’ve decided to write a series about “Bryan,” a composite identity with plenty of similarities to my nephew. It’s in a Google doc so he can listen to it being read to him. (I noted in an earlier post that Christopher’s comprehension is improved when he can both listen and see the words.) I think the content will grab his attention and I have added some questions to which I can refer when we tutor online.
Eventually I will use social stories to support Christopher, but given the stress of his move, I prefer to approach this laterally for now. In my email with the story attached, I will tell Christopher that I know about a kiddo who dealt with ta similar problematic classroom. (That is true, sadly.) The “Bryan” stories will allow my nephew to evaluate the problem from a safe distance but close enough to make personal connections. Christopher is sensitive to correction but wants to follow school rules, so I am hopeful this approach will help.
If you’d like to access the entire story, here’s a link.