Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To 4th Grade (I Went)

Old pic, from Spring Break. I was hoping to have a few pictures for you from my adventure in 4th grade, but SmallBoy was doing such a great job, that I didn't want to distract him with pictures. Yesterday, I went to his class, at the request of his teacher, to talk to them about SmallBoy and Asperger's. Prior to the beginning of school I had sent her some info and a copy of our book (I include Marti & Child in the "our"). She read the book that explains SmallBoy, in terms his peers can understand, and loved it. She felt it would help for the class to hear it and to be able to ask questions and be curious.

The teacher wanna-be in me came out and I made copies of the book for everyone in the class so that they could follow along. SmallBoy and I were going to alternate pages, but he ended up reading the whole book to his class, taking time to explain things. He did such a wonderful job and I was SO SO very proud of him. Afterwards, we took questions:

"So when we're talking to SmallBoy and he gets upset and mad, is that the Asperger's?"

"My neighbor who is five years old has Asperger's and he tells everyone that he's special."

"Can you 'get' Asperger's when you're this old?"

"How do you find out if you have it?"

"Do you have to get a shot to find out if you have Asperger's?"

There were many many many, including many comments of others about those who exhibit similar behavior or behavior that appears on the lower ends of the spectrum. I actually explained the spectrum to the class, as simply as I could, and SmallBoy helped by drawing "people" and writing on the board the different ways the people on different parts of the spectrum "look" and "act". The kicker questions were these, though:

"So, like, when SmallBoy acts like that, we shouldn't make fun of him anymore, right?"

...followed by another child who surprised me by asking,

"But shouldn't we not do that to anybody anyway?" (transl: Shouldn't we NOT make fun of people anyway?)

It surprised me coming out of that particular child, as he, though not the one who would be the bully in the group, would be one to go along with the group. Great questions. I have to admit, I got choked up and pulled one of my better Oscar performances out to answer the "making fun of" question, and the teacher also chimed in. By the same token, however, it proved that yes, it helps to educate even this young, and especially those with whom your child will be spending a great deal of time. It helps to educate everyone if it helps make a difference to one other child or person. Hopefully now, these children will have the knowledge, or at least the means to think about and discern how to act around those who are "different" from themselves.

Marti, I can't even begin to thank you & Child for writing your book, for sharing it with us, and helping us to educate others.


Anonymous said...

Wow!!!! That is awesome....and kids are way more perceptive and understanding than we give them credit for. Great Job Marti and Mom!!!!! Your children are blessed to have you....and HUGE cudos to Smallboy!!!! Love, Meem

kyra said...

oh my god! i am SO SO IMPRESSED with smallboy! and the class and the teacher, and of course, you!!! all of you! such a healthy, strong, open, helpful way to begin the new year! i loved those questions! i went to a breakout session at the ASA conferenc on what and when to tell your child about their ASD and heard that some kids will wonder if asperger's and autism is something they can 'catch' and thought, hmm, really? they'll really think that? and well, i guess they can! and do!

i am incredibly proud of smallboy. he is such a remarkable boy! and you are such a remarkable mom! yippee! thank you for this post!

Ian Parker said...

This is great! What a great example of a way to generate understanding and acceptance.

You and SmallBoy should feel very proud!

We've got a year to go before the Bear goes to school, but the idea of presenting to the class is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Wade Rankin said...

That is exactly what needs to be done in every inclusion classroom. At the beginning of every year, we plead with the Little Rankster's new teacher to do some educating with the class to help them understand why one of their classmates is unique. And the response by the classmates has proved inspiring to me. I'm so glad you got to experience that yourself.

Kristina Chew said...

Would have loved to have witnessed you, and SmallBoy's, Oscar-winning performances!

marti (standing still for once) said...

Tina, Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Those are precisely the kinds of things that come up when you disclose. The honest, understanding, "oh now I have words to put on what I see" moments that will last forever. You are such a good mother, and SmallBoy is lucky, very very lucky to have you. kisses!