What We See…

Yesterday, as we left pick-up, one of Benji’s classmates came up to him and insisted on giving him a hug.  It was a sweet little boy who had informed me maybe  a week earlier when I had visited the class that he had declared himself Benji’s BFF, with all the duties that entails.  In fact a few children came up, asking if I was Benji’s mom and declaring their allegiance.  Or at least to report to me that Benji’s behavior color was still in good standing at the end of the day.

It was sweet and comforting. The one thing that would give me the sad was watching him interact on the playground in the morning at drop off.  He has found his routine of putting his backpack and lunchbox in their respective gulag, but then he would falter a little.  I watch him watch the other little boys and girls running about in no doubt a rousing game of zombie tag, and I can see it in his little face:  the excitement.  He wants to join in. He wants to feel the wind in his hair and the triumph of zombie defeat.

He just doesn’t know how.  And if breaks my heart every. damn. time.

They work on it in speech.  They work on it in ABA.  How to be a friend.  How to have a discussion.  How to share what may be the awesomest toy in the history of toymaking awesomeness.  And he kicks ASS in these skills.  With adults.  He can be friends with an adult in a city minute.

But kids are so damn exciting!

His eyes light up and he smiles and his little fingers come out with their “love guns” where he will poke you with “love”–he even says “love, love, love!” when he does it–and he starts to dance about in joy.  Gods DAMN he loves kids!

And everything he learned in the five million gajillion sessions of [insert therapy here] goes flying out the window, and he will poke and push and jump on someone–usually the ONE kid who does NOT want to rough house and has a habit of telling any and ALL adults in the vicinity about his victimization, and Benji is scolded and told he was wrong.

And it just breaks my fucking heart.

He cannot explain his excitement.  He cannot explain his fervor.  And he is new to every adult there.  He is the only kid with autism mainstreamed into kindergarten at the moment, and sometimes I feel like it’s a giant neon sign saying “watch out for this guy!  he’s got issues!”

What sets him apart isn’t the rough-housing or the excitement.  Every single kid in all 4 of the classes experiences this.  He just can’t explain himself, and doesn’t always understand the reprimand.  It’s communication that sets him apart.  Otherwise, he is like any other kid waiting to go down the slide, eating his snack at the picnic table,  and running around with the joy that modified freedom can bring.

And the other kids see that.  well, except for tattle-tale Irving, but he’s prolly got his issues too.  They see someone who doesn’t always answer their questions, or know how to “dialogue” during pretend play (but he’s getting better!) but for the most part knows the basics of tag and rasslin, and is usually playing with something pretty cool.  He’s a little screamy when he doesn’t get his way–but at 5 & 6, who isn’t?  Other than Irving.

But it isn’t the kids who send the notes home, and it isn’t the kids who have “concerns” and it isn’t the kids who see every.single.difference and comment upon it.  It isn’t the kids who switch on the neon sign every morning.

That little hug after school reminded me of that yesterday.  In the end, that hug meant more than a million hours of compliance.  And I’m grateful for it.

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Categories: Autism, parenting | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “What We See…

  1. Kids are the best that way. They make so few judgments; then, even those are fleeting moments of preference based on something practical. It’s why the things they say are so meaningful – good or bad. And, it’s why it’s so hard to watch our little ones struggle to communicate. So, I especially love the ending to this story. ❤ *raises eyebrow at Irving* 😉

  2. I’m almost convinced that this is harder on us than it is on them. My kiddo has many similar challenges with socializing. He loves to be with the kids, but can’t get past the rudimentary skills before he reverts back to a safe standby of wanting to play tag.

    Thank goodness for the hugs.

  3. This made me kinda tear up. I love that, even if the adults aren’t *quite* catching on as fast, the kids are right there embracing your boy. Literally.

  4. Jesus Christ this is beautiful ❤

  5. Last year, Sam was in a preschool class that was too big with a bunch of kids who actually really liked him and this teacher who just. didn’t. get. it. He loved his friends. Still loves them. But I spent so much time explaining him to the adults at that school. Maddening. I’m so glad Benjy is finding ways to make friends even as he overcomes the communication stuff. It’s so damned hard. And so damned hard to watch.

  6. ShesAlwaysWrite

    This made me cry. My Bear is so similar – he can do all the things we coach him to do in therapy or with a grownup – and then it flies out the window the moment he’s near other kids. He’s so damn happy to be with them but just can’t work out how to do it without putting them off. So sick to death of other kids tattling on him.

  7. YES! The bird is incredible with adults. Amazing! Kids are so unpredictable and so iffy, that it’s so hard for her to go there. There’s always one mother hen type kid who latches on to her and declares him or herself the bird’s BFF and takes her under their wing and tries so fucking hard to engage her, never gives up. I am grateful for those kiddos. Trying to invent some kind of cloning machine for them. I’ll keep you posted on that.

  8. Kaytee

    It’s worth considering if the situations were reversed: How would you feel if some random kid shoved (intentionally or not) Benji on the playground? Is the other little boy not entitled to frolic on the playground unmolested by “love guns”? What if the other little boy has SPD and is very sensitive to noise/touch and Benji love tapping him causes a sensory meltdown??

    It is also worth noting that responsible parents teach their kids to tell an adult when someone’s bothering them — and, yes, love taps and getting bowled over when you’ve already told the other kid you don’t like it counts as “bothering. You teach Benji to seek assistance from adult when he needs help, yes? So the little tattle-tale, as you so charmingly call him, isn’t necessarily evil. The grownup who scolds Benji, as a direct result of tattle-tale’s tattling? Is doing the responsible thing and enforcing the rules. Surely, you’d want a grownup to intervene if some other kid hit Benji??

    • FWIW, my kid IS hit by other kids. A LOT. without any intervention from adults. ANd he doesn’t KNOW that it’s wrong, because his brain doesn’t recognize what’s going on. You also missed the point that he isn’t doing ANYTHING different from the other kids–and yes, he DOES stop when he’s told.

  9. Pingback: Forced “Inclusion” | This Side of Typical

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    P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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