Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. Please leave any comments there.
We have an arrangement with the local school system. They agreed to keep an eye on Number One Son in exchange for us giving him his meds before school in the morning. Trust me that we have the upper hand in this relationship. They’re very much attuned to his peculiarities.
Part of “keeping an eye on him” is telegraphing change – when you’re dealing with hard-core ADHD on top of high-functioning autism, one of the best ways to help him maintain equilibrium is to let him know what’s going to be happening in advance. This is usually only a matter of the 2-minute warning: “Hey, we’re going to switch from Art to Math in few minutes,” instead of “drop the colored pencils and take out your workbooks.” Normally these messages are conveyed to the classroom at large, because nearly everyone benefits from a little foreknowledge, however brief.
In his case, though, this is extended – just to him – to include “Hey, we’re going to have a fire drill in a few minutes, it’s going to be a really loud noise, but we’ll go outside as a class – just like last time.” And in this fashion, they maintain classroom equilibrium even under stimuli that might otherwise put Mr. ADHD/HFA into high-gear.
This works great when the school knows it’s coming. A few days ago, in the middle of lunch – fresh chaos all its own – some 2nd grader got a head-start on high school. They decided they *really* didn’t want to take that quiz, and that if they pulled the fire alarm, they might not have to. (Come on, you always wanted to do that – and some of you tried it.) CLANGCLANGCLANG.
The report from one of the saints who “keeps an eye out” is that Number One Son kept his cool, followed the class as they were all stewarded out the door by the adults, and waited in line with his class outside. As soon as he saw her, he raised his hand politely, even outside. She says she walked over to him and said, “Yes, C__?”
“What the HELL is going on?”
She reports that she failed to keep a straight face.
Appropriateness Score: Situation 1, Age 0. Crazy – it means not sweating the details.