Growing Up on the Spectrum

There is a child who is the observer.  He likes to watch the others do their classwork, projects, and even play games on the tablet or computer.  He’ll sometimes act like a backseat driver advising his classmates on what their next step should be.  I guess he doesn’t want to be in the driver’s seat.  He can’t win by only observing, but he can’t lose either.
A 5th grade student was the most excited one in his class to go Christmas caroling in the school gym.  I noticed a good many of the 5th and 6th graders showed signs of boredom, but not him.  Instead of keeping a low profile, he stood up and danced.   One of the teachers was stepping to the music, too, and danced with him to the song “Here Comes Santa Claus”.  He was on top of the world!  For just a few minutes, he was at the “head of the class” for a change.   Teachers and his fellow students were watching him step to the music which he could step to better than most.
She is happiest when going for a walk, but she doesn’t want to do a solo.  She gets upset if the teacher or one of the aides doesn’t hold her hand.  I took the first grader to P.E. and I got my walking exercise for the day.  We walked laps around the gym for a full 45 minutes.  When it was time to leave, I was ready to go back but she could have done another 45 minutes.  She was good as gold until I let go of her hand and sat down at the table.  She had a classic meltdown.  I’ll just say there’s nothing wrong with her lungs.
Since it was in the 70’s on a Friday afternoon, we took the pre-school classs, four boys, outside shortly before time to pack them up for home.   Just like a general ed pre-school, they throw a fit when told it is time to leave the playground.  One of them just dropped to the ground as the teacher was trying to escort him off the playground.  Once he finally started using his feet, a second one dropped.  After the aide got him on his feet, the third one, who was on the other side of the teacher, dropped to the sidewalk.  The fourth one, the caboose on this train whose hand I was holding, decided to drop, too, that is, after two and three rose to their feet.  The instructor, who kept a firm schedule, had factored that it would take us 2 minutes to go from the playground to the school building.  It took us 7 instead.  She forget to factor in the “drops”.
A third grade girl has a constant worry every day at school.   It is getting a “smilie face” in her folder that she takes home at the end of the school day.  If she doesn’t follow instructions which sometimes happens, she is reminded she might get a “sad face” instead.  Her reaction to this threat may be a face of utter despair or of sheer panic.  She whispered to me multiple times, “A smilie face?”  I would tell her yes to reassue her each time she asked.  I didn’t mind her repeatedly asking.  I’m not endowed with patience, but I do live on the same spectrum as this little girl.

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