Yesterday while I was waiting to pick up Johnny from school I hung out at the back of the classroom. One of the Education Assistants wanted to share with me how amazing Johnny was today. There was a Grade 1 student who visited the ASD classroom to see if it was the right fit for her and without prompting he socialized well with her. He was having his down time on the iPad playing a game after working very hard all morning. She sat beside him on the class sofa to see what he was doing. He smiled and said “hi” and immediately had a conversation with her about his game, what he was doing and how to play it. The teachers were all surprised and proud of him. Sometimes they said he doesn’t like it when kids interrupt his down time but he welcomed the girl into the classroom and made her feel comfortable and at home.
Secretly I was not surprised but outwardly I was very proud. Is it that he suddenly developed social skills? Mommy knows that outside of school he’s been practicing his social conversation skills for over a year with kids he does not know. At a fun event at a store he will see someone he likes and wants to get to know and think of something to chat about. Usually its about how he got to there on the subway or a car.
But one of the big things that flashed in my mind in neon lights was this was a GIRL visiting the ASD classroom. With the current rate of Autism between girls and boys as 1-4 the odds are never in Johnny’s favour that he gets an ASD girl in the room. For the last 2 years this has been his wish. So I can only imagine the look on his face as he is playing his game on the ipad while resting on the sofa when suddenly a girl sits down beside him as she visits the classroom with a Special Needs Resource teacher.
One of the big things I’ve noticed about Autism and my son is motivation is the key more so then typical children and finding the right motiviation is everything. I’ve been saying for years that Johnny has a harder time interacting with boys because of just how they do things. Boys tend to be very competive, they knock each other when they tease, they call each other out and grab what he’s playing with. When Johnny tries any of these things he always seems to get into trouble because the teachers watch him closer because of Autism. They don’t see that he’s just trying but maybe takes it a little far and hate we its a good opportunity for social coaching.
Girls on the other hand are more helpful and they seem to know when to jump in and guide Johnny and then they go to what they were doing. They let him try and also include him so why wouldn’t he want a girl in the ASD room?
I have to say no matter the motivation, it really makes me proud that at the end of the day when you have an Autistic child who has been seen as having social challenges suddenly be seen as a social butterfly it is a wonderul thing.