"The last question that many of you asked," I said, "was my favorite question: How can I help?
"I’ve already given you some ideas – talking slowly, giving Bud lots of time to answer questions, not taking it personally if he doesn’t want to do something. As we said, it’s hard for him to branch out and try new things, but you can try to take an interest in the things he likes. Ask him about them. When he’s using a script, ask him what TV show it’s from. Ask him who his favorite characters are. If you can climb into HIS world, he will be more comfortable about talking with you.
But keep telling him about your interests, too, and helping him to learn about new things. The more he sees and hears about new things, the more comfortable he'll get with them. Help him practice the things that his hair-dryer brain makes hard for him. The more practice he has, the better he'll get at them."
"Think about morning meeting," Ms. Walker offered. "Remember what a tough time Bud had at morning meeting at the beginning of the year?"
The children nodded and agreed that he'd had a difficult time with it.
"And now," said Ms. Walker, "who runs morning meeting?"
"Bud does!" they answered.
"So, you've already seen it happen," I said, smiling. "And you already do a lot of things to help Bud.
"But the most IMPORTANT thing you can do to help Bud is to make sure that your school is always a place where it's okay to be different.
"And the best way you can do that is to let your own differences show. Be proud of who you are. If you like something that other people don't like, talk about why you like it. If you like wearing something that's different from what other people wear, then wear it with a smile. Listen to the music you like. Follow the interests you have. Talk about the things you're good at and talk about the things that are hard for you.
"And listen to each other. Learn from each other. If someone likes something you don't like or does something that you don't understand, ask them about it and then really listen to their answer. Let people know that it's okay to be who they are, whoever they are.
"You've already created that kind of community here in Ms. Walker's class. Take it with you to fifth grade, too. Take it with you to middle school, take it with you to high school, and take it with you for the rest of your life. It is the best thing you can to to really help Bud - and to really help each other, too."
Tomorrow: Wrapping up and reflecting