Friday, February 17, 2012

In the Knick of Time

Joey's been having a pretty good year, but we are still having adventures. After all, he's nine. And the last few weeks have been topsy-turvy for him. Joey's aide quit to go back to school, so we have had subs while the new one was found. We actually liked one of the subs, but she wasn't chosen in the end, because they found somebody with a special ed degree. We met her today, and she seems fine, we'll give it some time and see what happens. Here's hoping for awesomeness.

This is, however, a big personnel change, and thus a major change for Joey. This means he's been stressing and anxious, and finding ways to try to keep himself calm. We have some new soundified* phrases, and unfortunately the favorite involves a threat of licking. We have managed to put a stop to actual licking, but the phrase still has the word and makes him giggle. And unfortunately, when said in certain contexts, it sounds extremely inappropriate. As in, whoa, that was inappropriate. And let's get out of here now.

He's also been having... wardrobe malfunctions. Joey, being well-insulated and sensitive to heat in the first place, prefers to wear sleeveless shirts. These are not permitted at school. However, he has discovered he can wear them under another shirt... which he can promptly remove when he reaches school. We have made a compromise with him- he can wear the sleeveless shirt in small group times, but whenever he has to leave his self-contained classroom (ie, to go to math, group reading, specials, lunch...), he has to put on his shirt. All well and good.

The other wardrobe malfunction is Joey's preference for going commando. This can be especially problematic if he is wearing cheap pants, and the seams of the crotch come apart. This always happens when you least expect or want it. For example, Tuesday... during math class. Yes, there is nothing quite like getting a text from your child's teacher: "Mrs. Joeymom, can you please bring some underpants for Joey? He is putting his fist through a hole in his pants, and we have discovered he has forgotten to wear underpants today." In my defense, the bus was early, and the Knickers Check was thus missed that morning. Figures the one day we miss the check is the day he fails to put them on.

I will say he looked very happy to see me when I arrived with a new package of boxer briefs, and sent him off to the boys' room to fix the issue. I gave the rest of the package to the teacher to keep, just in case we have any more malfunctions.

But just in case you think Joey has become self-absorbed in his anxiety, I will share one story from his teacher. One of Joey's classmates is going through an incredibly tough time for reasons I cannot disclose. Let's just say, he had very good reason to be upset and sad and mad and anxious and overwhelmed, and thus sitting in his seat with his head down, in tears. Joey, seeing his friend in distress, starting patting him and telling him in his gentle way that everything would be OK, and giving the friend hugs. The classroom para told Joey his friend "just needs to cool down", so Joey immediate fetched a paper towel, dampened it, and put it on his friend's head to help him "cool down."

What? You thought autistic people have no empathy?

Allow me to introduce you to Joey...

*Soundified is when the words lose their meaning and become a stim. When Joey was little, he would blur the sounds so that you had more of a sense of the rise and fall of the sound, rather than words. Now he retains the words, but uses them without actual meaning- he repeats them because they feel good in his mouth or make him giggle.