“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Overcoming a notorious reputation: Roy and me part 2

Well, once again I met Roy and we went off to his 4th grade Sunday School class. His parents were concerned because he had eaten some sweets that morning, which appear to be a trigger for inappropriate behavior. I was happy that he was either resigned to or pleased about the fact that his big, balding, bearded, buddy would be again following him to Sunday school. We walked in, and the sign in sheet wasn't there. Small things such as this can at times be the trigger for children with autism to engage in behavioral problems. Roy took it in stride and went to sit down in his usual spot. I went and sat by him. A young girl with down syndrome sat nearby with her adult woman buddy in tow.

The teacher entered the room and said "There will be lots of chances to win candy today!" I immediately realized that I didn't fulfil my pledge on this blog (see May 17) to have something else available. I got up and scurried around looking for chips or something that Roy could win. Finally I spoke to someone in charge and she came up with the idea of shiny new pencils that they had. I sat down. The sign in sheet arrived and he got up and signed us both in.

We sang some songs, some of which Roy knew, to the point of being willing to go forward and "lead" the songs with other kids. When he would do particular motions to the songs, I did them as well. He began to look to me to mimic his motions. At one point I asked him if he could read the words which were being projected and he said "No." However, he then picked up a flyer about some trip and proceeded to pick out words he knew. He saw the word "ball" in balloon and was pleased to know the whole word. He also loved the phrase "baby wipes" which he read repeatedly to himself with delight.

The leader asked questions and the kids were to jump up, provide the answer and receive a candy. I don't recall the question, but on one of them, Roy was the first one up. He also answered the question correctly! The teacher approached him with the pencils, but he indicated that he wanted a candy. The teacher's assistant came forward and gave him a small candy bar. He took it and put it by a pin wheel he had been carrying. The session continued on and occasionally kids would go forward and exchange their candy for something more desirable. Noticing this, Roy went forward and traded his candy bar for a taffy apple sucker (good trade!). He brought it back and once again set it down. My mind kept telling me that he has problems if he eats sweets, but he hadn't actually eaten the sucker. Finally, the class ended and students were able to chose another candy. Roy went forward and chose a tootsie pop (another good choice) and put it in his pocket with the other sucker. I looked at him somewhat surprised. I guess he could read my mind as he commented, "I am going to a birthday party today and these are for my friend."

As I left him off with his parents I told them about the suckers he had in his pocket half because I wanted them to know he had them so he wouldn't eat them, but more so they could recognize how thoughtful he was to think of someone else in the midst of a situation where I guarantee you the other children (me too for that matter if I had been allowed to stand and win a candy) were thinking of their desire for candy, of themselves.

More to come.


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