August 31, 2012
This one is for my friend, Debbie.
I don’t know why, but there was always—always—a kid in class who knew how to push my son’s buttons. He always knew how to get under his skin. And he did it without being too obvious to the teacher. [Of course, if and when my son retaliated, he’d be the one to get caught. Unfortunately, it takes a while for many of our kids to master the art of subtlety.]
Some kids were more difficult than others. And as the parent with a child with an ASD, it was my duty to take action.
Now before you jump all over me and accuse me of being too protective of my child, let me come clean on a few things. Yes, I realize it’s important to let our kids fight their own battles. I realize we can’t shield them from everything life throws at them. And yes, I realize we can’t keep them in a bubble forever. But, during these elementary school years when they’re learning how to tie their shoes, keep their hands to themselves and play nicely with the other kids, it’s important that we protect them so they can focus on these key matters without distraction. And because I took these steps for my son when he was young, he’s now able to do this on his own. And that’s pretty cool.
Teachers and fellow students benefit when everyone in the class is happy. When “one of those kids” irritated my son, disruption ensued. Through teacher communication I discovered that my child’s behavior improved significantly on days when “one of those kids” was absent. Put two and two together—it’s not rocket science, friends.
So I made an appointment to see the teacher. She agreed that the combination of my son and “one of those kids” was not a good mix—so much so that we got it written into his permanent school file and our IEP that throughout elementary school he would not be in class with that other student. And he never was.
Boy, did that save everyone lots of heartache! My rule of thumb is this: if my kid and another have a history of causing trouble—no matter who started it—they have a history. And I make sure teachers are aware of it. Tip: To be diplomatic, never mention the other student’s name.
Epilogue: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this: removing or relocating one problem kid will not make your child’s life perfect. Count on someone else to fill that spot. But try to think of them as learning opportunities [perennials] rather than nuisances [weeds]. There will always be someone who rubs your kid the wrong way—to different degrees. And it’s your job to teach your child coping skills.