Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Burning Questions- Day 3

Anyone having fun yet? I know the people who have entered my giveaway for the Trifle Bowl are! I will be choosing a winner on THURSDAY! So, just a few more days left to enter!

I have had a few more "burning questions" trickle in, and one had to do with my post from the other day about Jaxon, my child with Autism. This one came from my friend Jessica. (I have a LOT of Jessica's in my life) She reads my blog regularly, but only comments on Facebook. She more had an inquiry about WHAT to teach your children if they are in a situation where they have to interact with someone who is different.

Well, Jessica. FABULOUS inquiry. To be honest, I am not going to pretend that I am the be all/end all on the subject, but I know what I try to teach my own kids. Believe me, it is sometimes even hard for Abby to be nice to Jaxon.. So, I feel like I totally understand both sides of the situation for the most part.

I think the main thing is: be a good example, and answer children's questions honestly, but kindly. Let's say we are in the situation and Jaxon is at the park and he decides to get aggressive with your kid. OBVIOUSLY that is NOT OKAY! And I am NOT asking for a FREE PASS, because Jaxon still needs to learn that it is NOT OKAY to be that way with other kids.

First, hear me out, and try to understand the situation from Jaxon's perspective. Jaxon may have gotten aggressive because he is being, chased, taunted, excluded, or feels trapped. Once he got trapped in a slide and instead of saying, "Hey! Let me out!" He just started to attack kids until he got out. Other people were upset and rightfully so, I made Jaxon apologize, of course, but then explained that he was trapped in the slide and wanted to get out. Instead of going straight to using words, he gets aggressive, pushing and shoving in attempts to GET OUT.

You can tell your child, it was NOT OKAY for Jaxon to push, or hurt you. But, Jaxon doesn't always know that he is supposed to use his words to get help. Or, Jaxon doesn't always know what the right choice is. Or, Jaxon sometimes doesn't know how to control his body when he gets mad.

I hope that those kinds of explanations don't EXCUSE the behavior, but rather, EXPLAIN the situation and then the child is more apt to dealing with the situation the next time they might be there with Jaxon. They may even defend him, or say, 'HEY! LET HIM OUT!' Or offer whatever kind of help he might need.

He is QUIRKY, there is no doubt. Sometimes he even acts like a cartoon character, which makes kids laugh, or try to get him to do it again. Sometimes he can just get too wound up. Maybe an explanation to your child would be. EVERYONE is different. Jaxon is different too! He likes to express himself in different ways, and it may not always be LIKE YOU.

I think in general, this is a healthy way to describe someone else. They are different, and they are not LIKE YOU. This doesn't make them, BAD, or NOT FUN, or NOT YOUR FRIEND, it means they aren't YOU. But, we can still be nice to everyone and treat them nicely, even if they don't act like you, or, don't do the same things that you do. If they don't make the right choices it is because they are LEARNING, and maybe haven't learned it as well as YOU. This would be a good opportunity to focus on YOUR child's strengths and abilities and foster the ability to be of help to kids who don't do it as well as them! Say, "Hey! Next time, why don't you tell Jaxon that he needs to be nice to his friends! And ask him if he wants to play a different game that might make him more happy! He wants to have fun, but maybe next time you can show him that being nice is MORE fun." Communication is key.

That seemed like a long drawn out post, and may be over-simplified, but I hope it helps. The best thing to do as a parent might be to think, "How would I want MY child with special needs to be treated?" You might not have a child with special needs, but I am SURE you could understand how devastating it would be if you did, and how you would try every day to help that child out.


Leah said...

VERY well said!!! I could write a book on this too!!! Yes, yes, and yes. Kids need to have compassion, patience, and include these kids. Parents need to get involved and empower their kids with the tools to help and understand and include.

Knowledge is power. If kids can understand what autism is, they will be more understanding and feel the responsibility to step in and be a hero!

mamazita said...

I just wrote a novel comment....then erased it....

Well said post.

I just want to add that as parents we are examples. Our kids pick up how we treat and talk to others.

Whew....that was much shorter

Danika said...

Great explanation! I have 3nieces/nephews with autism and several friends with autistic children so I've seen a lot of this firsthand. It's hard to explain "different" to children, but my kids summed it up pretty well all by themselves the other day. They said just like everyone has different tastebuds (for example, someone may like broccoli, someone else doesn't) that all people are different and have different interests and likes and things they struggle with. What may taste good to you or be easy for you might taste gross or be hard for someone else.

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

Meant to comment the other day and didn't (sorry I'm lame!)....
This is a great post. Some of my best friends and their kids still have a hard time with this topic and my J is 10 and was diagnosed at 8....that's a long time.
I think there's a misconception with autism. People across the board assume that kids/people with autism don't like to be around other people. Everyone I know (including JJ) loves being around others. He/they just don't know how to act appropriately.
I could talk for 5 days straight (or 5 years for that matter) and still have stuff to say about autism. But the biggest thing is- communication. Like you said, it's key.
Thanks for posting this!!

jessica said...

I'm happy to report that I have properly taught my children to react to people who are different. Eden has two boys with autism in her class, one was in her class last year too. Just last week one of them yelled at her and spit at her...she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he took out his frustration on her.

She came home and told me about it and said that "Poor Christopher was just having a bad day..." 100,001 reason to love that girl!


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