I get a “sunshine call” from Johnny’s Autism teacher every Friday to let me know how Johnny’s week has been. He has been doing SUPER WELL even though his Daddy has been away on business and he has been working very hard. Johnny even brought tears to the teacher’s eyes because he saw Johnny interact with the Principal and another teacher without prompting….stop and smile and say “hi” and said their names all while looking them in the eye. Admittedly I am uncomfortable having him be taught to always look people in the eye but I will write about that another day.
The big news today is French. The Autism teacher and the Grade 1 teacher who work as a team decided that all morning Johnny would be in Grade 1 and then depending on what was happening in the afternoon he would spend time in the Autism room getting extra help with social skills or tutoring i.e. printing skills or catching up on some class work. They decided that this would happen during French but he would stay in Music and gym. The argument was he loves music and gym is great for social reasons plus its a physical activity and music and gym are fun too. They were worried that as Johnny is learning how to spell, read and write English that adding French was overloading him.
Yesterday the Autism teacher told me Johnny’s first day in French class. It seems that the French teacher noticed he was not attending her class and was told why. She disagreed and went to the Principal and argued this:
Johnny is high functioning and smart and she wants the opportunity to teach him and wants to give Johnny the chance to see if he can learn French and lets see how he does.
The Autism teacher is still worried about piling things on Johnny but I told him that as parents we follow his lead and if its too much he will let us know. I also told him that his cousin just started French Immersion and its perfect timing then. Also socially I was uncomfortable with everyone learning French but Johnny and he’s smart it WILL bother him at some point. He agreed with that but promised he will try and help Johnny handle anything if he gets anxious.
I also told him that all the speech pathologists agree that Johnny’s challenge is pronouncing words and making sounds not understanding language so it doesn’t matter if he’s speaking English French German or Spanish the Apraxia is holding him back. Cognitively he GETS EVERYTHING so its okay to introduce a different language and it will not confuse him.
So I want to go hug the French teacher who did what all Autistic people want….ASSUMED COMPETENCY. I read an article that quoted Autistics who were non-verbal but used devices to speak for them and they all said the one thing they wish they could go back in time and tell their teachers in school was to stop assuming they COULD NOT do something because of Autism and instead always give them a chance or just approach it differently for them. Their biggest sadness is when everyone assumes they can’t do stuff.
But don’t get me wrong…Johnny’s Autism teacher is wonderful and is dedicated to moving Johnny forward. He keeps saying how amazed at how Johnny is grasping social concepts very fast trying to please everyone by showing this. He has taught children 9-12 for 3 years with Aspergers and Asperger children REALLY have social deficits so he thinks its so special to see a boy at 6 who is AUTISTIC really get this stuff. ASSUMED COMPETENCY is my mantra now and I even wrote it on the front of Johnny’s IEP in the parent comment section.