hAny ideas on how to explain AS to difficult child classmates?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by whateveryousay2007, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. whateveryousay2007

    whateveryousay2007 New Member

    Now that we have the offical diagnosis we have to figure out a way to let difficult child classmates in on it.

    difficult child's teacher has been wonderful and we love her to death. She (even before the diagnosis) allowed difficult child time to recoop after "meltdowns" or if it appeared that something was bothering him giving him the option of having "quiet time" or "special time with a toy or something calming to him".

    The class has picked up on difficult child being a little different. She's tried to explain that difficult child has some "issues" that we're trying to figure out and she expects them to be understanding and not treat him differently.

    With that being said I've suggested having a pizza party the end of this month. I'll bring pizza for lunch for the class and have a difficult child day. I've ordered the book "all cats have Asperger's". From what I've heard it's catered to his age group.

    Any ideas? I've been explaining it to difficult child slowly so it's not too much to soak in at one time.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The pizza and the book are a fabulous idea!

    I can share with you what we did with difficult child when he was in second grade - that was the year he began to have some real raging issues (clear the classroom kind of things).

    One of the little boys that was my son's friend asked me one day, "why does difficult child act that way?" I told him that difficult child had some things going on inside himself. There were some issues that he just was not able to understand and he couldn't find the words to say how he felt - instead he acted out in frustration. He doesn't do it on purpose nor does he do it to hurt or scare anyone. He really can't help it sometime. The best thing you can do is continue to be his friend, not tease him, and when you see that he is getting angry or frustrated, let the teacher know. That little boy just shook his head in understanding and said "OK." That little boy was one of the always true friends difficult child had until he left elementary school for middle school.

    What I told the little boy is what we had the teacher tell the class while difficult child was not present. Personally, I don't think it's necessary at the age of your difficult child's classmates to expand on diagnosis and causes and.......... I think letting the class know that it's not intentional and that there are times he cannot help the way he acts is important. It is also important that they understand he's just like they are and needs his friends. Just enough words that they begin to develop a caring understanding and not a morbid fascination. I think you will be suprised at how caring children can be at that age.

    Good luck.

  3. Lostparent

    Lostparent New Member

    Have you thought about ording a vidio and having the teacher play it for the kids? They could follow it up with their own questions.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We did "Sixth Sense" for difficult child 3's class. Have you heard of it? Not the movie, but the program, designed to teach classmates about what autism really is. it would be equally applicable to Asperger's. The program takes up half a school day, when done properly. And it is well worth it, it can also be part of a number of learning outcomes from a curriculum point of view.

    We had a professional psychologist helping, but once familiar with it, I know I could do it easily on my own. If you had a book to guide you, you could do it. Or the teacher could.

    It begins with addressing the whole class. Although the child is supposed to be removed for this, we left difficult child 3 in, so he could learn about himself, at this level.

    To begin: ask the class about the senses. What are they? Don't give any answers, except to write the correct ones down as they give them to you. The five main senses are - vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell. You tell the kids there is a sixth one, you want them to let you know what it is when they can guess it.

    You proceed through the five senses, roughly in the order I gave here.
    Sight - is this something you can learn? Or are you born with it? What does sight help us to do? How do we use it? Do we have to be taught how to use it?
    And the final really important question - what would you do to help someone whose sight was impaired?

    Do the same thing again, with hearing. Same questions. Allow opportunity for the kids to feed back.
    And again, with the remaining three.

    The next exercise - call for volunteers. Volunteers who are good friends works well. Have one stand in the corner, facing the wall where he/she cannot see who is coming in. Pick another student to walk in but say nothing. See if the first student can identify the second, purely from the sound of their walk (not easy). Then get the mystery student to speak, this will make identity easier. This is good to demonstrate hearing, too.

    Another exercise - you can use a series of volunteers for this, one at a time. The volunteer goes to the teacher, who whispers an emotion in his ear ("happy", "sad," "angry", "afraid", etc). The student then mimes that emotion while the class tries to guess what it is.
    The expected outcome for this - for the class to recognise that we can identify how someone is feeling, from how they look. Here, you give a BIG hint - this is an important part of the Sixth Sense. Does anybody know what it is yet?

    If they haven't guessed by the end of this, you t ell them, the Sixth Sense is the social sense. Now, consider that the social sense is another sense, like the main five. What do we now know about the senses, and the Sixth Sense in particular?
    Is this social sense something you can learn? Or are you born with it? What does social sense help us to do? How do we use it? Do we have to be taught how to use it?
    And the final really important question - what would you do to help someone whose social sense was impaired?
    The final explanation - autism and Asperger's people are born with their social sense not working properly, or totally absent in some cases. They don't mean to seem rude, they just don't understand as well, because their social sense is not working properly. Instead of being mean back at them, which is what we might do if we thought they were being deliberately rude, instead we should support them or help them.

    The next phase of "Sixth Sense" requires the student to be out of the room, because it is the Q & A. Here it is very useful (almost vital?) to have the parent present, to be able to answer the more personal questions. And the kids need to feel free to ask the questions without fear of hurting the feelings of their Aspie classmate.
    I remember when I did the Q & A for difficult child 3's first Sixth Sense (the idiotic education department changed how they did it, for later years, and because autism wasn't to be mentioned, there was "no need" for me to be involved; the idea was to not identify the student with the need, with the somewhat ludicrous result that t he kids all thought it was very interesting, but had absolutely no idea how to implement it).

    When I did it, the first question the kids asked, was "Is this brain damage?" A very good question. I explained that difficult child 3's brain seemed to work well, but differently and with occasional gaps (such as his social sense). But in other areas, he was way ahead (as in reading and maths). The kids nodded - they'd seen the prodigy side of him and were in awe.
    Another good question - I explained that difficult child 3 is a very visual person, he needs to see it to understand it. I also mentioned the language delay he had, which he was now almost over. And a kid then asked, "Would he have learned to talk faster, if you had taught him sign language?"
    A brilliant question. With 20:20 hindsight, probably he would have, but we just didn't know at the time.

    I got a lot out of hearing those questions. They got a lot too, in terms of understanding. The bullies in the class - it didn't change their behaviour, except perhaps to lose them a little support. difficult child 3 was a target for the bullies because he was different and fun to annoy, they got a good reaction. Also, teachers would tend to side against "the weird kid", with the sub-belief that because he is autistic, he is dangerous and a liar. I really wished those teachers had been made to do Sixth sense also.

    Done right, this is absolutely brilliant as a teaching tool. I believe there are programs you can access, books that describe it etc. You should be able to get your head down with the teacher and cobble something useful together. Feel free to print out what I wrote and show it to her, see what she can do with it from her curriculum point of view. She can then justify spending a bit more time on it than perhaps she had planned. Win-win.

    And this teacher sounds like a gem. Can you arrange to have her cloned?

  5. Calista

    Calista New Member

  6. whateveryousay2007

    whateveryousay2007 New Member

    I wish I could. I'd have her go to every grade level with him.

    I nominated her for educator of the week here. When she called me last night (yes....she calls everyday just to let me know how his day was or to check in on him)she was talking about our little "party" this month.

    She's a gem. I can only hope any future teacher he gets puts forth the amount of effort she has.