Growing Up on the Spectrum

He has the classic autism trait of talking one’s ears off.  He works with a speech therapist to improve his verbal skills.  Since I’m the substitute aide who is not around him much, I need a translator to know what he is saying.  I hate to ask him to repeat whatever he is saying for the upteenth time when the teacher or other aide isn’t around to translate.  So sometimes when he pauses, I nod.  I don’t know what I’m nodding to, though, which can be a risky proposition with me, the aide; and he, the student.

A sixth grader is the oldest kid in his autism unit.  The one his teacher can rely on to inform her that her desk is messy and then proceed to tidy it up.  If a cabinet door is even slightly ajar, he will take care of that problem.  His obsession is calendars.  Old or current – it doesn’t matter.  When other kids grab an IPAD or some game for choice time, he goes to his box of calendars.

She’s tall for her age of 12.  A gentle giant who loves to give hugs and kisses.  She has the autism trait of being repetitive in saying or asking things over and over again.  She’s the new kid on the block in her class as well as neighborhood.  Her world was rocked when her Mom died in another state and she now lives with Grandma.  She talks about her Mom being in Heaven as if her Mom just moved away to some far-away location.  She freely talks about joining her someday as if death is an everyday topic.  Her teacher gently tries to change the subject, but rest assured, the gentle giant will bring it up again.

He’s 7 years old and the youngest in his autism unit.  He’s also the only one who has yet to utter his first word.  He does understand some of what he hears for he will do what he is told for maybe 2 minutes at most.  He’ll flap with one arm, stop, hit his teeth with one hand, stop, give the top of his head two slaps, and start over again.  The teacher will tell him to put his arms down and that works for maybe 10 seconds.  He was climbing over me and I gave him a hug.  While trying to put him back in his chair, what did he have in his hand?  My billfold!  I got pickpocketed!  I showed his teacher and she wasn’t the least bit surprised.  I wasn’t his first victim and I surely won’t be the last.







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