November 2, 2011

My Visit with the Second Graders: Part Four

My answers to the rest of their questions:

Why does he run around the classroom and run away when people are trying to help him?

Oh, I LOVE this question. Because it tells me that you guys are trying to help Daniel. And that really means a lot to me as Daniel’s mom.

Well, I think there are a couple of reasons. And I think it depends on where Daniel is and who he is running away from.

Sometimes, I think Daniel is trying to get away from work!

Daniel is really good at escaping when he is tired of working, and I can hardly blame him. We all have things that are hard for us. When Daniel comes to school, he is being asked to do the things that are the very hardest for him -- like listening.

Another reason I think he runs away, especially if he is running away from you guys, is because he is a little nervous. He KNOWS he is different. He knows he can’t do all the things that you guys can do. But he doesn’t know how you guys are going to respond to that. So that makes him a little nervous, and probably even a little scared.

You guys are so great at talking and listening that when you are talking to each other it probably sounds a little something like this:


Imagine how you might feel if one day you moved to a different country where everyone spoke a different language. And imagine if everyone in this county was talking that fast and you couldn't even ask them to slow down. I think that is sort of what it is like for Daniel every day, and sometimes he just wants to escape and take a break.

Why, in PE, does he squeal and cry out when the teachers are trying to help him?

So you guys have noticed that sometimes places like the gym can be hard for people with autsm.

And here is something else you should know about autism. Does anybody know what the five senses are?

(With a little help, they named them all.)

People with autism sometimes experience things with their senses a little bit differently, because the connections in their brains are different. So, sometimes people with autism see, hear taste, touch or smell things differently that the rest of us.

I know Daniel does sometimes. I know that when he looks at a waterfall, he sees things that I don't see. I think it is because he looks at it so much more closely while I am busy listening to what people are saying around me or thinking about a story I want to tell my best friend. Daniel is only looking at the waterfall.

I know he hears things differently sometimes too. I think he hears things louder sometimes. I have watched him before when we are outside and noticed that he is really listening to something. So I have stopped what I am doing and tried to listen really hard. And it is usually the coolest sound – like the pretty whistle of a bird in the distance or the buzz of a bug – something I never would have heard if I hadn’t really stopped to listen.

I think Daniel sometimes hears more things than we do and sees more things than we do, which, when you think about it, is really cool. But when language is tough, and when sounds are a little bit louder to somebody, someplace like the gym can be REALLY chaotic. It can seem SUPER loud and SUPER scary because what you guys are hearing sounds so much louder to his ears.

Why does he grab stuff and run?

I think the biggest reason is Daniel gets told NO a lot! The grownups in Daniel’s life are always pushing him to do things that are hard for him. We want him to listen to us all the time, so he will get better at listening and understanding. We want him to try to make sounds all the time. We want Daniel to try, try, try at the stuff that is hard for him so we tell him no when he wants to do something else. We tell him no when he wants to just grab something comforting to him, like those lids, and escape.

If I was used to getting told no all the time, I think I would probably try to grab stuff and run, too!

I think Daniel grabs things and takes off for the same reason his sister will grab a big bag of chocolate cookies and take off to her room. Because she really wants those cookies, but she figures she is probably going to be told no.

Why did he bite the teacher?

Oh, no, I really hate this question guys because I hate to hear about Daniel biting anybody at school. BUT I am still really glad somebody asked this question because it allows me to tell you something very important. I want you guys to know that Daniel never wants to hurt anybody.

I want you guys to think about the last time you had a rotten day. And if you can’t remember, then just try to imagine some things that would make your day really crummy. Maybe your dog is sick. Maybe your mom is sick. Maybe you missed seven words on your spelling test. And you just found out your best friend is moving away. I want you to think about some of the things you do when you are feeling just so sad and down and scared.

I'll tell you what I sometimes do when I get feeling super crummy or sad: I yell.

I even yell at people that I really love. I might even yell at my kids. I don’t mean to hurt their feelings, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I am just feeling so terrible in that moment that the words just come out, and they come out loud because I am feeling so badly.

Well, bad days for Daniel are even harder than my really bad days because he can't talk to anybody about why he is angry or sad. I think Daniel bites for the same reason I yell. It is his way, sometimes, of expressing his frustration.

One last post about my visit coming up


  1. Oh I love this! I was just discussing doing this in my son's class so I love to see how another parent handled it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am curious. Have you seen NBC's 'Parenthood?' They one of the families has a son with asperger's. I was just wondering what you thought of the show.

  3. Hi Shelbi,

    I would like to watch the show, but I have only seen a few minutes of it here and there. I just don't have time to watch much TV these days. I love college football, so most of what little TV time i have is spent watching games. So i can't comment of their portrayal of Aspergers other than to say I have seen segments where the parents are worrying so much about whether the soon-to-be-newborn will have autism. I think any parent of a child on the spectrum can relate to that anxiety. I, for one, wanted to have three children, and think I probably would have if it weren't for autism.

  4. Shelbi, I would add that I know a few parents who have kids on the spectrum who really like the show.

    Thanks, Shelbi, for reading my blog!