Liz related this story to me this morning, while I was getting ready for work.
Yesterday morning, after dropping Buddy Boy off at school, she stopped at a gas station and purchased a diet root beer to drink. Sweet Pea was still in the car. Liz didn't notice that the drink was nearly frozen, and when she opened it it sprayed all over the inside of the car, as well as all over her.
Fortunately she was near home, and returned there to change her clothes (and finish cleaning the car). After telling Sweet Pea she had to change her clothes, Sweet Pea said
"Don't take off your breasts."
"What?", Liz asked.
Sweet Pea repeated it.
"Did you mean my bra, sweetie, or my breasts?"
"Don't take off your breasts." Liz wonders, is there someone at school whose mom has breast cancer, and now Sweet Pea is afraid that Liz will lose her breasts?
"But honey, they're attached to me. They're a part of me. They're not going anywhere."
"No, mom. You know, the thing that keeps you from jiggling all around."
"Oh, OK. That's my bra. It's not wet. I don't have to change that." -----------------------------------------------
Buddy Boy is now very verbal. He developed language a little late (he only had a couple of words by the time he was 2 and a half), but rapidly picked up language with speech therapy. A lot of times his spoken communication "borrows" things from books he's read, or movies he's seen. His speech is also somewhat stilted and halting at times. But, all in all, he's very verbal.
But because he's very verbal, I think he is often judged as being oppositional and purposely bad, rather than it being understood that he might not be processing something quite the same as intended, or that he has other problems related to his autism (like OCD) that are making it harder for him to comply.
It seems that the fact that he's verbal gets him "automatically" placed into the high functioning autism (HFA) category. This also means that along with being verbal, since he is seen as HFA he is also expected to be "high functioning compliant". Teachers and school administrators might understand when a non-verbal/minimally verbal student doesn't comply (perhaps falsely assuming that they have no communication skills), but they also make errors in the opposite direction, assuming that once one is verbal, you should also be "normal" in other aspects of your life.
Like many people in the "autism community", I don't like the terms HFA and LFA. There are too many assumptions and prejudices built into those terms, and they really are very heavily weighted by how verbal a person is, which is not the end all and be all of communicating or functioning in general. But society in general, and our schools in our neck of the woods, try to put each kid into a "box" (usually figuratively, though sometimes literally), instead of taking the time and making the effort to acurately evaluate and work with their strengths and weaknesses.
I've been thinking about this a lot, as we head towards another IEP next month (the first one since going full time in Buddy Boy's present school placement). Sometimes it seems no matter how much effort we put into writing the IEP (and explaining things to his teachers), there still seams to be a breakdown in communication between us. Which makes me wonder how much of Buddy Boy's communication is being lost or misinterpreted at school. Oh well, time will tell.
Until then, for my part I'm just glad that Sweet Pea said "jiggling" instead of "sagging". I would have paid for her comment a long time if she had.
Note: I have a big conference that I am helping to run this coming weekend. I may not post again until Monday or Tuesday.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.