Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spectrum Vs Spectrum

A large percentage of the kids in our class are in there because they are somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. What fascinates me so much about autism is that no two kids with autism are the same. With other disorders, you can make a few generalizations about a kid who has it, be it the way they look, act, and so on. Kids with autism, though... there's no generalization that seems to hold true for ALL of them. (Of course, I am aware that no generalization will hold for any disorder. The point is just to emphasize how widely varied autistic kids are.)

Let me introduce you to two of our autistic kids: Joann and Jordan. Joann is one of our new students this year. We're still trying to figure her out, but what we do know is that she has some obsessions (I won't go into them at the moment) and if we try to prevent her from doing what she wants to do (it's rather disruptive) she throws a fit. She screams, she whines, she cries, she'll hit herself in the process. It's a ridiculous behavior, and we're working to put a stop to it. It won't be easy though. Additionally, she tends to moan all day at random times as is. This seems to be her outlet, so we can't eliminate it entirely. It's just the tantrums that need to stop.

Meanwhile, Jordan is autistic but very reserved. He has no real obsessions. The only issue with him is that he cannot tolerate really loud noises. Granted, people are screaming all day, but as long as it's not continuous, he's generally fine. One of Joann's fits today, though, pushed him over the edge...

Joann was once again making her way to the object of her obsession. One of the aides intervened, and Joann lost it. She fell into a heap on the ground, screamed, cried, hit herself, etc. Something like this isn't an entirely unusual experience, so none of the other aides were in a rush to offer help. We figured Joann would quit in about a minute as always. But she didn't. She carried on and on and on. Jordan got up, yelled "WHAT IS JEANIE DOING?" (he still hasn't learned to say her name properly) and came running towards her. He was poised and ready to attack.

Fortunately, the teacher turned around and blocked Jordan before he could get to Joann. Unfortunately for the teacher, Jordan didn't care who he attacked at this point, and punched the teacher square in the gut. While the teacher was recovering from this blow, the aide who had triggered Joann's tantrum grabbed Jordan (he kicked the aide in the knee for this) and led him out of the room to calm him down. On his way out, he threw anything he could grab back at Joann, who was still screaming. I believe he got hold of a pencil, book, and folder. Peanuts compared to last year, when he threw a chair across the room. Then he kicked another student who was just standing there staring at the chaos.

Finally, as soon as Jordan was gone, I resumed math time with the other students in my group. Just another day in our room...

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