Carrie struggles with vocabulary and verbalization, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to express her needs and wants. Sometimes the end result is a darling story to bore strangers with in a grocery store, but sometimes all that happens is a meltdown because Carrie is trying desperately to get her point across and the idiots in her life just don’t understand!
She cried at school Friday—actually weeping, as opposed to the more common angry screaming—because she wanted a stuffed animal. Carrie is in fourth grade now, she knows how school works, and she knows there are no stuffed animals in school. So when her teacher began simply telling her, “We don’t bring stuffed animals to school,” her parapro intervened, knowing that something was a little off.
Although Carrie’s “helper” never did get to the bottom of the stuffed animal episode, she was able to redirect Carrie back to a happier place and back to doing her work using the strategy I’ve taught them: blame Mom. When all else fails, just say, “Carrie, I don’t really understand, but Mom will help us when she picks you up, okay?” Usually, that’s enough of a reminder that a) the school would help her if they could, and b) Mom will make it all right soon.
Incidentally, Carrie was crying because I’m going out of town. The stuffed animal, in this case, was just a reference to the fact that I always bring her a small stuffed toy when I get back. In her mind, she jumped to the day that I will bring the animal, meaning, “I want the animal because it means Mommy will be back home.” She couldn’t express that, so she used the only terms she could.
Sometimes children with autism don’t seem to make sense, but if you start to look for the connections in their language, you can wind your way to the point they’re trying to make.