The Waiting Room.

foggy

It was still drizzling outside.  Cold and foggy with little light, it was difficult to determine what time of day it was, unless you looked at a clock.  Dropping my son off for school, I was headed to a place I hate to go, and one to which my family has been too often lately- the hospital.  My mom was getting her feeding tube replaced for the first time and I promised to meet my dad and wait with him.

Toots was in line to enter his classroom.  As I greeted his teacher, I remembered.  She wanted to talk to me about something.  I asked her what it was.

And that’s when I got the “news”.

IMG_1236

Since the very first day my son entered his first preschool, I have agonized, worried, rallied against, feared, and ignored the inevitable – that my child might face “teasing” or “being made fun of”.  But really, at some point, doesn’t everyone go through some “teasing”?  Perhaps.  Maybe it’s for the color or style of clothes, a haircut, pink eye, a zit, something that one could change or heal.  

Not a lifetime disability.  That would be mean.  That would cut my son’s self-esteem to the core.  It would be something I couldn’t fix or make better, and my job is to protect, nurture and make everything better.  What would happen the day I couldn’t? 

The teacher was casual.  Perhaps, that was the approach she thought best to cushion any blow to me.  She really wanted to talk to the class about autism.  We had discussed it and the idea went on hold until yesterday.

“I want to do it as soon as possible,” she said in a low voice.  She leaned toward me slightly and added, “A couple of the kids are mimicking his speech.”

bullet

The bullet she did not know she fired lodged straight in my heart, but oddly I did not feel the pain I expected.  I did not flinch or question or…or anything.  Without missing a beat, I told her about books I just purchased at the Social Thinking website.  I just blurted it out.  Three books I had in the car had lesson planning about social behaviors and maybe they would help.  I went to retrieve them.

As I walked out to the car, a million thoughts raced through my head.  Who were the kids?  What were they “mimicking”?  What did she mean by mimicking?  When?  How many times?  How many days or weeks had it been going on?  Did my son know?  Did they do it in front of him on purpose?  Is it one of the boys?  I’m suspicious of the boys since they don’t seem to talk to my son… I need to get to the hospital…

And even as the questions raced, I felt no anger.  I felt I should have been angry.  I felt sad.  More importantly, I just felt determined.  Determined to do anything to stop whatever it was, from escalating.  To put a lid on it.  To flush it away.

When I reached the car, I frantically opened my laptop case and pulled the shiny new books, with their glossy pictures, and new book smell out.  I quickly scanned the pages as I rushed back to class, hoping for anything relevant.

But the reason I got these books was because my son was asking me to teach him to play with his friends, not to teach his “friends” how to accept him.  The books were full of lessons on how to listen and communicate.  I gave them to his teacher, telling her that I thought they were geared more to my son’s behavior than that of others.  She said she would like to look at them over the weekend. I replied that would be fine because, after all, it’s for my son.

Clinic_Waiting_Room

I left and headed to the hospital.  My mom’s procedure, thankfully, was quick and outpatient.  I stayed with my father until he placed her in the car to take her home.  As soon as I was in my own car, the “mimicking” was at the forefront of my mind.  In fact, it never left.  While waiting for my mom, I texted my son’s tutor about the “mimicking”.  She texted back that she knew the teacher wanted to tell me.  She said they were not “making fun” of him but that it hurt her heart to see “it” happen.  Since I knew I would see the tutor in the afternoon, I waited to talk to her until after school.

“It” ate away at me all day. I left work for Barnes and Noble to look for something to use in the classroom.  Sitting on the floor of the store, in front of the book shelf I wanted, I pulled out every book I could find and settled on three: one about a girl who “half friends” a differently-abled child in a wheelchair and has to decide whether she will invite her to a birthday party or exclude her based on her disability; the famous All Cats have Asperger’s Syndrome book; and a book called “Words are Not for Hurting”.  I gave them to the teacher at the end of the day.

stop

It turns out that the “mimicking” was of an echolalic phrase my son picked up from a toy display last year for Hot Wheels.  The display had a launcher and “measured” how fast you could launch the car.  If you launched it the max “99 mph”, the display would play the phrase “Beat that!”  My son smile big and say it because he liked it.  One of the girls heard him, laughed and said it too.  The fear is this “mimicking” could develop into making fun of my son.  The teacher wants to stop it before it starts, because she is awesome like that.

I want to help, but there is only so much I can do.  Eventually, I have to step into my own waiting room and let the teacher and the tutors do what they are trained to do.  My waiting room leaves me with no control.  I better get used to it.  I just realized I’ll be spending the better part of his childhood “waiting it out”.

hospital_waiting_room

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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8 Responses to The Waiting Room.

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh. This just struck me at my core. I am waiting for news like this….Tate uses odd phrases and echolalia that other children might mimic…and make fun of him for using. Our waiting rooms are awful….with only our minds to wander and examine all of the what-ifs.

    I hope the teacher and tutor successfully get through to the class. Sending some virtual hugs and positive thoughts.

  2. Stephanie says:

    That’s always one of my biggest fears too about sending my son to school. In fact I just had something happen here recently that I need to write about, thank you for reminding me. You did what you could. I also pep talk my son now every day before school, telling him he’s awesome and not to pay attention to kids who don’t understand him. Sounds cheesy but it’s been working so far.

  3. I have been dealing with this with since my son was in kindergarten. We still deal with him not being accepted sometimes. He seems to be okay with this most of the time. He wants friends on his terms, not just having friends to say he has friends. It always hurts to see your child rejected, even a little bit. Let’s hope being proactive will be the magic bullet and you won’t have to have much more of this any time soon. ((Hugs))

  4. Mary says:

    Freckles made her entire class mad yesterday. Someone threw a beanbag in gym and hit her in the eye. The gym teacher made the whole class except for Freckles and one boy write 200 times “I will follow directions quickly.” It’s funny and sad at the same time. I like the gym teacher though. 🙂

    Meanwhile, I just discovered that my teen has been cutting herself. Why? How much is bullying/teasing a factor? Some teasing is normal and means people accept you/like you. I know it’s stressful living with Freckles. I am just all over the place mentally right now. And I didn’t take the teen to her huge group project presentation last night for 1/3 of her grade so all the kids are mad at her, too.

    We do have a doctor appointment this afternoon so you know. I am/have been on top of this, but she was hiding it. What’s really bothering me right now is that I called and left messages last night with the teacher and principal and neither has contacted me. 😦

  5. Erin says:

    We went through this when Troy was in kindergarten (he’s in 3rd grade now). It will be okay. Especially since they are talking to the class while they are younger. Once they understand why he does the things he does, it will be okay. I know it doesn’t seem like it now. I know it is terrifying now. But my son’s classmates are fiercely protective of him now. He is one of the guys, whereas before they knew, he was just “different.” I wrote a little about it last year ( http://wp.me/p1V6cL-m ). We’re about to go through the same thing with Joyce now, same teacher, but different behaviors…. It will be okay. I’m glad your mom’s procedure went well. Hugs.

  6. Meg says:

    This post touched me deeply. Teasing and Bullying…there can be such a fine line. And teasing can be a kind of communication as long as the teaser isn’t ill-intentioned. It must be so hard to be his mom, and trying to gear yourself up for protecting him against a lifetime of this. . . and then knowing that no one can ever gear themselves up for that much attention and protection. Your little fellow might be in the best position to handle it. As long as he can just play along, and isn’t the focus of bullying now, it might be best to just see how kids do communicate and play and get along with each other. Hmmmm. I guess I wouldn’t want the teacher to talk about autism quite yet. Just my opinion. Hey, by the way, I love the falling snow! Happy Happy Holidays.

  7. Cubby mimics many of Pudding’s echolaic phrases, and I’ve been known to do it myself too- not in a mocking or teasing way. Sometimes the pattern of sounds just feel good when you say them out loud. Pudding will say something, Cubby will laugh and repeat it, she will laugh and repeat it back…almost like a shared stim. I wonder what the little girl’s intentions are…I’m not sure she was teasing in this instance, but good for the teacher for being proactive!

  8. eof737 says:

    This is intense stuff… I’m glad the teacher picked up on it and didn’t brush it off… Please keep us posted on outcomes. 🙂

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