I freely admit that I try to put a clever-clever spin on most of what I see and at least half of what I hear. I don’t know if this trait can fairly be called a defense mechanism or a tool to buy myself time so I can process the information. (Because I have the brain damage.) Sometimes I get moments where I have to call upon my rarely used power of patience.
This week I had the opportunity to work in different PPCD classroom. (PPCD is pre-kindergarten/Kindergarten Special Ed. ) As always, it was an adventure. This particular school is bilingual and the language of the day is usually posted in the hallway. My Spanish isn’t great, but I can usually fake my way through it. One little boy in my class, Angel, more or less called me on it. Even though I understood everything he said, he caught on that I wasn’t whipping out my responses fast enough to make me a fluent speaker. We were standing in line and he was gesturing towards the loops on the chain that we use to keep the children in line , (That so doesn’t sound right. It’s a plastic rope with colored loops for children to hold on to as we move through the school. ) and asking me to say the colors in Spanish. I don’t know the word for Purple so before we got to that one I pointed to it and asked him what it was called. He looked up at me with his twinkly little eyes and said, “No, No, in Espanol” meaning he wouldn’t tell me what it was unless I asked him in Spanish. He’s not even five and he can already run rings around me.
As far as patience goes, I had my most challenging experience with the autistic twins. Five year old identical boys who are both non-verbal but will respond and interact with the group as long as it is part of the routine. (I know a lot of computer guys who fit that description, up to and including the complete overreaction should something go awry.)
These boys are going to have a rough time ahead of them. One moment in particular touched me. While the kids were all working in the various centers (guided play, ala occupational therapy) I observed one of the twins looking at at the books on the shelf. I asked him if he wanted to look at a book and I sat down to join him. He immediately climbed into my lap and handed me a book. I read to him in my best story time voice, but at low volume. Many autistic children are sensitive to noise and respond better to a soothing tone (Don’t we all?) When the story was finished he immediately got another book. I read to him for about 15 minutes, which is forever in kid world. For that few minutes we had a “normal interaction.”
Next year he and his twin will go to another school. I hope wherever they go they are fortunate to have teachers like the ones he has at this school who have the time to be patient with them. I don’t want to think about what will happen to them if they don’t.