Friday, April 11, 2014

The B word

I don't usually get this question (thankfully), but randomly, I've been asked three times in the past week if I have a boyfriend.

Conversation 1 was with an old acquaintance I ran into.

Acquaintance: Are you still dating that guy you were with a while back?

Me: Oh no. It's been ages.

Him: So you're single these days?

Me: Yes and no.

Him: What does THAT mean? Because if you're single I might have a nice guy or two to set you up with.

I explained that I am not currently taking new dates, but that my relationship is still in its first trimester so I'm not quite ready to call myself NOT single. It's a big commitment.

Conversation 2 occurred at my pottery studio while Robot was there with me. When he got up to go to the bathroom a fellow potter cornered me and asked if he's my boyfriend.

"Well, you know..." I answered (or rather failed to answer) him vaguely. Luckily he didn't press the point when Robot reappeared a few seconds later.

Finally, today at lunch my student Y was inspired by an ill-advised conversation yesterday with her birth mother that involved a promise that said birth mother would procure my 8-year-old student a boyfriend.

Y: Ms. Heathen, you got a boyfriend?

Me: Well, Y, that's a very personal question and I am not going to answer it.

Y: So what's his name?

Me: [after almost blurting out "Robot!" but catching myself just in time] Y, I told you I don't want to discuss it.

Y: [in a slightly pitying tone] Ohh, so you don't got one?

Me: Y! We're not going to talk about this anymore. Who wants to listen to some Raffi?

And this is the child who some would have labeled cognitively delayed! So I guess I'm not quite ready to use the B word yet, at least in public.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sharing is not fun

My twin autistic four-year-old students, who we affectionately call the "wolf children" because it sometimes seems as though they were raised by wolves, continue to be a source of joy, hilarity, and frustration. Lately, we've been using a strategy called "social stories" for M, the wolfier, more theatrical of the two. The idea is that we print out a few pages about a social situation we want her to work on. For instance, when she was nervous about a field trip last week, we printed photos with accompanying sentences about things she'd see and do on the field trip -- "I will ride the bus to the field trip. On the bus ride, I will keep my voice quiet so I can hear my teachers' directions." By reading it a few times and looking at the pictures she'll start to internalize some of the ideas.

Today I brought out a different social story, "Sharing is fun!", during math center time when M started to growl at other students who were sharing some plastic animals with her. She eagerly grabbed the book from my hand and started perusing it. I thought it was a positive sign that she seemed so excited by it. Unfortunately, I noticed after a few minutes that the words had undergone a change:

"Sharing is NOT fun," she read, running her finger over the words on the cover. "I WON'T share crayons and pencils. I WON'T share blocks and toys." She looked up and glared meaningfully at the other four-year-olds in her group, who continued to play with the plastic animals obliviously, before continuing to the section about how to ask for a turn ("I WON'T ask a friend if I can have a turn").

*Sigh*. Apparently "M is going on a field trip!" got a re-write, too. You guessed it -- the new title became "M is NOT going on a field trip."