Monday, March 22, 2010

With a little help from my friends

"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


Anonymous said...

Okay. This one made me cry.

Anonymous said...

My son has been recently diagnosed, so I'm just beginnning the journey. I just had to comment that these posts are AMAZING. You need to turn them into a children's book. Seriously. I know I'll be referencing them when I need a way to explain things to the kids in my son's life. Thank you.


*m* said...

You are my hero.

Island Mom said...

Bravo! ! brilliant to bring it back to each kid and his/her own differences, what a beautiful way to end.

Dana said...

Thank you for giving me the words to use with my son's class. he is in 4K and is trying his best but sometimes i don't know how to best help or explain and you did it splendidly. You have no idea what you are doing to help moms like me who have to do this alone. thank you.

Judy Jeute said...

My children were in the building at the Platte Canyon High School shooting. What you are writing about and teaching not only helps Bud, and your readers, but it goes a long way in helping all of those kids and their peers for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

School is always a place where it is okay to be different. Applies to EVERYONE. Second the motion for a book.

Beth Allums said...

Me too! I'm a crying. I want to share this with my elementary students. I teach elementary art - and this is a lesson all kids need. Beautiful way to put it.

Robin said...

Do you think my husband would mind if I ran away and married you, because I totally would right now.

jess said...

this is absolutely fabulous. it's real, it's accessible, and it's what every kid desperately nears to hear.

thank you

Unknown said...

Since I discovered your blog about 10 days ago I have become totally hooked. I can't tell you how many times I hit the refresch button hoping the next day's story will soon appear. I have also shared it with many others who have also been touched.

Please keep writing, please keep sharing, and please keep inspiring us to help our children be the best they can be.

And could you please explain the fire drill bell panic in a future post?

Cari said...

just reading this one brought tears to my eyes!

Stimey said...

"Take it with you for the rest of your life." Yes. Yes. Yes.

Anonymous said...

Autism aside--I think the advice about "Be different, be yourself" is SOOOO IMPORTANT!!!

ESPECIALLY as these kid move into middle school--I went to a middle school (40 years ago) where if you were different, you were dead (socially speaking). And from what I have seen of today's schools, in many places it is still the same. Kids feel forced to choose between being socially "dead", or hiding who they are and what they think, and feeling "dead" on the inside.

We as parents can try to support them, but they themselves need to have that inner courage and strength to dare to be different in the face of conformity.

California Girl

am said...

please, turn this into a book, please. WHAT SCHOOL IS THIS???? - this is amazing... my son has a.s. I have just discovered your blog. So happy I did... thank you for writing all of this... this whole story is amazing and should be required reading.