He Knows….

Let It Shine

 

“You don’t have to feel like a wasted space
You’re original, cannot be replaced,
If you only knew what the future holds,
After a hurricane comes a rainbow,
Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed,
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road,
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow,
And when it’s time you’ll know”,

On March 10 2015,  I talked to Johnny about Autism.  I took a deep breath and took the plunge.  I thought it was time to have an honest conversation with him and begin the dialogue as well.  I felt that because he was seven, Grade 2,  he is now being very social, has friends and wants to be in the regular classroom.   I was becoming concerned because one of Johnny’s classmates with Autism read a story about the history behind the creator of Pokémon over the school’s PA on World Autism Day.  His friend did it for the his school’s Autism Awareness week and it was announced that he was doing if for autism news from the ISP Room Intensive Support Classroom for Autism.  Johnny is in the same class as well as two other boys and they all go in and out for varying lengths of time and then back into the inclusive Grade 2 classroom.  Johnny is a smart boy and I felt that for at least eight months now he had been hearing the word Autism and thinking that it might apply to him.   I didn’t push him on it because my instincts told me that he was figuring out how he felt about it all.

What I can understand is that he has been determined not to be different and he wanted to be like all the other kids.  I still often hear him say the words, “I don’t like the word different.”  For him he showed everyone that this meant being in the Grade 2 classroom as much as possible to be with all of his friends.  He was so determined to be there and I feared he was not accepting all the parts of himself.  I can understand why he might think like this because ever since he was three years old he has had to go to professional after professional as they targeted a delay and tried to help him overcome it.  I sometimes wonder if he worries if he is broken and everyone is trying to fix him.  Is that why he can’t stand seeing things not working properly or things needing to be fixed?  Is that why he fixates on fixing things because he sees all the adults around him trying to “fix” him?  Then there is the helpful teachers that say that they are helping Johnny be a good student but is the goal set for him to just “be” in the regular classroom just like all the other children even though he learns differently?  Is the inclusion really an institutionally way of making him conform so its no wonder why he started resisting going to the ASD support classroom?  Maybe he thought going to the support classroom meant he was not measuring up and “being good” and being sent away instead of going to the room where he got targeted individualized tutoring.

So I felt that it was definitely time to start talking to Johnny about Autism and make sure that he understood that being different is not less and in fact it could be more and more is never bad it’s actually a good thing.  The challenge for us was trying to pick the right time and the the right moment.  When is  the right moment?  September begins I don’t want to start the conversation at the beginning of the year as he gets used to the expectations of Grade 2.  Then he starts making really fantastic progress so then do I upset the preverbial  apple cart or do I just keep moving forward with him?   Suddenly I realize that at school the word Autism is being used openly in front of him without asking me first if we have had a discussion with him first I realize the moment now to start.
At school, after his classmate with Autism spoke about the creator of  Pokémon and Autism,  some of the kids in the room said,  “oh I know he was Autistic.  Did you know he was Autistic?’  Then they named a couple of other kids that were Autistic in a friendly way and then one of my son’s friends said to Johnny, “you’re Autistic aren’t you?” and supposedly he said “yes. ”  The only thing I can laugh about now is when I asked my son if he heard the word Autism, he misunderstood me and thought I said Baptism and instead of Autism.  I realized that he just misunderstood what I was talking about because right now all the kids are preparing for First Communion in Grade 2 and he’s just finished doing a retreat to learn about Baptism is preparing for that as well and he thought that’s what they meant.  He is always very literal and finding patterns in life.   I left it for a little while that day and then when I had a quiet moment in his bedroom we started the conversation over again and I attempted to clarify things for him.
I told Johnny that the name of his teacher in the Intensive Support classroom and told him it was an Autism support classroom.  I asked him the names of the boys he shares that classroom with and he told me all of their names.   Then I  pointed to his chest and touched it and he touched his chest and then he looked a bit surprised.  “Mommy yes I am in that class.”   I told him he is Autistic too.  I quickly said to him that just like all the friends look different from their eye, hair and face colours so is Autism to each of his friends who have Autism including himself.  That’s why it might feel a bit confusing.  I asked him if his friends at school were all different and he said “yes.” I asked if he liked each and everyone of them and he said he liked all of them and that they were all nice to him.   I said well each of them are different too but sometimes their differences are not so easy to see or to name.  He said that didn’t bother him that they were all his friends.  I tried to explain to him just like his friends all look different, sometimes children learn differently and each is stronger in some things and has challenges in other things.   I attempted to explain because he has Autism he gets a lot of  extra supports/ tutoring so that he can do everything that all the other kids can do because he can.   There are kids in his class that need extra help too but they go see tutors after school but they are shy about sharing that they are having troubles.  I told him that all the teachers are trained to teach certain ways and to teach all the children and their are certain teachers that are taught how to teach the needs of specific children that think differently.  I told him his parents accept him and are very proud of him and understand that he learns in different ways.  We told him that his ISP room teacher knows how to teach to the way that he learns in all honesty all the kids would learn better and access the curriculum if they were taught in different ways too.
I also pointed out all the things that he can do easily but he doesn’t realize that is hard for other kids.  I also asked him to share things his friends in the ASD classroom can do that other kids can’t do and this made him smile.    Mathematics, technology,  iPads, laptops, Smartboards are their tools that they can easily use to access the curriculum and do school work while their peers still use all of this for gaming and are just starting to use for education.   I asked him if one of his friends who is just starting to talk if that stops him from doing Grade 2 work and he said, “no Mommy.”
I told Johnny most importantly that to remember that everyone’s different it’s just that sometimes it’s more noticeable but that’s okay.  Its harder sometimes to stand out amongst everyone and have your differences acknowledged when you just want to play, have fun and have friends.   I also told him the most important thing is that Mommy and Daddy believed in him and he can do everything and anything.   He has shown us that already that he couldn’t talk before now he can talk.  We told him that the hardest thing sometimes is to stand out in a crowd and harder still to lead but no one knows more then him how hard its been.  But to always stand proud,  keep trying his best, stay our courageous little lion who always insists to stand (pushes his way) at the front by the teacher and love who he is because we love who he is.
It took him many months to get used to the idea and be okay with it. He thought that if worked harder it would go away.  It might be cliche but I often play this song when he’s come home from having a “hard” day at school to remind him that he is our “Rock Star.”  It never fails to bring a smile to his face and a rein of kisses to my face.

“Firework”

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?Do you ever feel already buried deep six feet under?
Screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July’Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-yBaby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, aweYou don’t have to feel like a wasted space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbowMaybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time you’ll knowYou just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July’Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-yBaby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through-ough-ough

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colours burst
Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Firework By Katy Perry

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