Living with an Aspie: Best. Teacher. EVER.

Spencer has been absolutely LOVING school, which is a great big HUGE relief for me.  In talking with his teacher, I totally understand why.  She has gone above and beyond what we ever expected, and we are so very grateful.  We have been incredibly blessed to find a teacher who is willing to adapt a little bit and take care of my darling boy.  As a result, he’s making huge progress socially and can’t wait to go to school.  This attitude is so contrary to a lot of other Aspie’s school experiences, and we are so happy.

Before Spencer started school I sent his teacher an email about Asperger’s and things that Spencer goes through.  She asked my permission to share some of the information with the other parents and kids so they can understand Spencer and help him.  I was all for it, and said sure.  About a week ago, the parents got the following email:

Dear Families

Wanted to share some information with you about one of the friends in our class.  Our friend Spencer has Aspergers Syndrome, which is part of the Autism spectrum.  (This medical diagnosis has actually been combined with the medical diagnosis High Functioning Autism or HFA)  Spencer’s Mom, Jessica, has sent me some information to share with the parents of his classmates.

Children often come home and tell stories about their friends.  I felt it was important that you have accurate information about our friend, Spencer so that you could help your child with ways to be a good friend to him, as well as everyone else.  We have spoken about Spencer having Aspergers in class and have watched an Arthur episode (season 13, episode 6) that actually does a pretty good job explaining about a friend named Carl that has Aspergers. (This episode is available on Youtube and Netflix, if you would like to watch it with your child again).  However, being preschoolers I don’t know that they will fully grasp what Aspergers means, but they can understand that we are all different and Spencer’s needs are going to be different from theirs.

This is some of the information Jessica shared and ways we are encouraging our friends to be good friends to each other.

People with Aspergers:

— Have good language skills, but they have difficulty telling others how they feel and what they need -(All our friends are working on using our words to tell others our needs.  For example, “When you are finished with that toy, can I have a turn?”  We are encouraging our friends to tell Spencer, “When I am finished you can have it.”)

–Are very literal – may not understand when people are joking or upset.

–May have a hard time listening and taking instruction because they tend to get overly focused on something they are doing (At circle time Spencer may not always join us, he will sit in a chair behind us or at one of the tables – he can hear us better over there.  This can be hard for friends to understand why they are not allowed to do the same.  I just tell them that I know they hear just fine on the carpet square, but Spencer NEEDS to hear better over there.)

–May only talk about their favorite subject (Spencer loves robots and Curious George) – (Most of our friends like robots and Curious George, too, so this has worked very well for everyone, especially at snack time)

–They may want to take part in games or activities, but may not know how to do this.  (We encourage our friends to show Spencer how to do things – several friends are actually very good at this and very patient!)

One last thing to mention, which is a side note from [me] (Mom of child with Down Syndrome)- people first language is very important when speaking of others. [My daughter] has Down syndrome, but she is NOT JUST a Down syndrome child.  There is so much more to people than a diagnosis.  She happens to also be a great dancer, a soccer player, book lover, and a fantastic friend to others. I encourage you to use people first language. It really helps others see past the disability and get a good look at the abilities.

I have been very pleased with how well our class has so quickly become a unit.  Friendships are forming.  We stress that we are ALL friends in our class, we take turns, we respect each other, encourage each other and celebrate each other. Our friends have been very accepting of everyone in our class.  Thanks for your help with encouraging your child to be a good friend to others!  If you have any questions, please ask away!

I was so blown away at how she has handled Spencer in her classroom without disrupting the other kids too.  I know that I would not have been able to handle something like that very well when I was teaching.  I feel so blessed to have found someone who seems to appreciate Spencer as much as I do.  He adds so much to our lives, and I’m glad he’s adding to a classroom as well.

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