However, other than GameTeen, I've had limited exposure to kids on the spectrum. Yes, I've been to his school, observed students and talked to parents, but the encounters are fleeting. I've read many journal articles and in talking with the director of his school, I feel I have a good handle on how the minds of these students function, how repetition and consistency minimize meltdowns and anxiety.
This week, though, I've helped out at the school and as a result, I've spent some time with some kids who need some more help than GameTeen. A lot more help, but thankfully, there are some wonderful teachers who have what seems to be an unending source of patience. One has asked me to cover her bathroom break, which she takes at the same time every day, because she doesn't want to upset her kids with a disruption to their day.
In that few minutes, each time a student came up to me. Curious, because they didn't know me or that I was GameTeen's mom. One was fascinated by the shirt I was wearing, the other just wanted to know why I was there and asked me questions about his favorite thing. The thing is, those who don't understand autism think that these boys don't communicate well. They do, they're just doing it their own way.
In seeing more of the student population, in their own environment (rather than at a school event), I see so much potential-and so much life. These students have passion for something, it's just different from what society expects or wants them to have. It's enjoyable, learning about these different things. Sure, it's frustrating, too, but the most important thing to take away is that we all thirst to know, to be, to do and to have something that makes us happy.
That first part of it, to know, is what I want to help with. My focus right now is on doing the research with kids like GameTeen, ones who can articulate (maybe overarticulate is a better term!), but are stifled in the traditional classroom by the noise, the rules, heck, even the air moving around. But I realized that while I am starting with kids like GameTeen, the work I do will benefit all of these students.
It just makes me want to work that much harder, because just as much as they want to know, I want to know how to help them achieve that.