Just Wait.

I’m becoming adept at jumping through government hurdles in every attempt I can think of to get help for Our Boy. I’ve had more visitors in my home on official business than I’d like, but whatever it takes to get him what he needs.  The questions have become such a part of our routine these days that I can answer them by rote.  The latest “advocate” is a young mom, close to my age. We settle at my cluttered kitchen table and I apologize for the state of my kitchen. It’s a work in progress. She responds as the others do, “Oh, don’t worry about it! You should see mine!”

Right.

And so it’s down to business. The questions pass quickly until we come to what I think is the most frustrating: “When did you first notice his symptoms?”

“Right after his 18 month MMR vaccination. If I were a conspiracy theorist…” My thoughts end in a shrug.

“Oh, I refuse to give my son that shot. I went a few rounds with Dr. X the other day. He didn’t seem too happy about it but I told him if he had to talk to the parents that I do he might think differently of it.”

“Yep.”

The questions continue and we get thrown off topic as I wince and answer yes to all of the horrible things that Our Boy is at risk for. Elopement. Abuse. Sexual abuse. Abduction. “Is he at risk for taking off in public?”

“Oh, yes. For now he can ride in the cart but he’ll outgrow that.”

I don’t know how we get on the topic but soon we’re discussing the comments of the general public. “Do you get a lot of comments?”

“Well, I had a harder time with it around the time that he went through testing and diagnosis. I learned to avoid Kroger on Senior Day because too many people would try to engage him in conversation, ask about Santa Clause. He looks older than he is. These days I really don’t care what a random person in the store thinks.”

“Just wait,” she says. “Just wait until somebody walks up to you and asks you why he can’t talk yet.”  It’s the worst thing, I guess, that she can think of.

I shrug. “I don’t have time to educate everyone that we come across. If they seem to really care about a response, I’ll give them a straight answer. If not, it’s easy enough to walk away.”

She seems surprised that I don’t care what strangers think.

“The only time that it matters is if they decide to make a hurtful comment. People assume that because he doesn’t talk or doesn’t look them in the eye that he isn’t listening or that he’s stupid. The effect on him is what matters to me. Not educating the public.”

We move on.

 

Book Review: 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

When I was given a copy of the book 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (first edition), I was convinced that I’d be reading “old news”.  Although already familiar with some of the information, I was completely blown away by the section on behavior (chapter three), which has helped me in my daily interactions with our son.  I also think that the behavior chapter is especially helpful to educators. Too many in the autism world have been influenced to think that functional communication is the only true means of communication. It isn’t.

From page 67, on hostile or aggressive behavior:

First, understand where the behavior is coming from. Almost all such behaviors are rooted in your child’s sensory and/or social impairments. He is not doing it to provoke you, embarrass you or make your life miserable. He is not an inherently unkind, cruel, malicious or evil individual. He is most likely feeling frustrated, fearful, threatened, tired, unable to communicate his needs or otherwise unable to cope.  Let your response spring from this understanding.

The chapter also points out ways to avoid escalating a skirmish, which are helpful for parents and educators alike. I also found Chapter 7 To Know the Law, to be helpful. It contains a brief explanation of navigating laws within the public school system as well as links to the three federal laws: IDEA, Section 504, and ADA (see page 196).

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the material was clearly organized and presented in a helpful way. Web addresses are contained within the text, so there is no need to flip back and forth to a notes section at the end of the book to find what you are looking for. Book lists for suggested reading are also given where appropriate, as well as vendor information.  There are some endnotes but they aren’t overly cumbersome.  A great index at the back of the book makes it easy to use this guide as a reference.  I highly recommend this book to all educations and parents. It’s a worthy addition to the library shelf.

NOTE: The authors have published a second edition, which you can peruse here: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Raising-Children-Aspergers-Expanded/dp/1935274066/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384130128&sr=8-1&keywords=1001+great+ideas+for+kids+with+autism+spectrum+disorders