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Keepin’ It Real in the Autism Hood

I didn’t start this blog just to complain about snack cakes and Swiffer Wet Jets.

It’s about parenting a child on the spectrum.  I mostly go for humor, but that’s not always what’s going on.  And if I really want to be honest, and really want people to know what it’s like, then I shouldn’t hold back the unpleasant things.  This post will undoubtedly require follow-up posts, as this thing plays out to its conclusion.

Yesterday there was a note from the SPED teacher in Connor’s communication book.  I forgot to take a photo, but the gist of it was that Connor had been bothering another student at recess, to the point of the other student’s frustration, and he would be staying in from recess the next day.

Following is my email to the SPED teacher:

Dear SPED teacher:
Since Connor forgot his notebook yesterday and it just came home today, we are just now aware that there has been an issue during recess.  I’m a bit confused by this.  If there has been a problem occurring during recess time that is significant enough to result in Connor being denied recess, why have I not heard about it until now?


I’d like to know more about what is happening.  Your note does not mention the specific behavior that is taking place, or the antecedent to the behavior.  While I appreciate the interventions you have put in place (social stories and tokens), if we don’t know what is causing the behavior to occur, there is a big piece missing, and frankly, a missed teaching opportunity.  If someone was there to intervene and show him how to handle the situation in an appropriate manner, I believe it would be more valuable to him than the consequences.


The ARD we had prior to this year’s included an accomodation of having an additional aide or teacher during recess time, to assist Connor with social skills.  I’m not sure if that made it back into this year’s IEP, or if that intervention is still taking place.  Can you tell me if that is happening, and if so, how often?


As part of Connor’s team, I am always available to discuss challenges that arise, and to be an active participant in determining how best to resolve the issue, and determine what supports are needed.  If I had been aware of this, I would have suggested playground intervention, and would not have approved his recess time being taken away.


A part of Connor’s disabiltiy involves hyperactivity.  As such, physical exercise is imperative to him to be able to expend energy, which helps him to better focus during class time.  Segregating Connor from his class, and keeping him indoors will not resolve his social skills deficits.  Nor will it help him to build self esteem, or feel accepted.  I also don’t feel that it’s fair to punish him for something that is a very big piece of what defines autism.  I am requesting that this not be used in place of teaching appropriate behavior, and that it never be used unless a conversation has taken place with us beforehand.


Whenever there is an issue with Connor, I always ask the question, “how did we fail Connor?”  For instance, we had a 1 1/2 hour meltdown over writing names on Valentine’s cards.  Connor has a disability, we know this.  It is not his fault he had the meltdown, it is our fault because we didn’t get in front of the behavior  by breaking it into smaller pieces, to alleviate the overload he experienced.


So I ask you, how did we fail Connor when it comes to his social skills during recess??


I have time tomorrow, Thursday, 2/16, from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. to call you and discuss this further.  Please let me know if you are not available at that time, and what time would be better.


Thank you,
Connor’s mom


Clearly, it’s time to step out of my comfort zone, remind people that I’m part of this team, and start holding people accountable.

I don’t like this.  I hate this.  But it has to be done.

To be continued…


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

16 responses »

  1. OMG, you rock!! I always knew this, but you really reminded me here. This is PERFECT. I’m using this for future reference, because I will undoubtedly need it sooner or later.

    Way to take back your power, mama. Good luck.

  2. I consider you my new teacher in handling things that may arise… I will be looking this up again..
    Glad you dropped by at Sturlungi 🙂

  3. I am about to write a similar email about some issues at school, and, yeah, it makes my stomach hurt. I just want to get along with the school, but they make it SO hard sometimes!!! I hope this works out well for you!

  4. Pull those big girl panties out from the back of the drawer (I’m sure all your thongs are up front) and strap them on. It totally sucks but you’re doing what needs to be done. Go get em!

  5. This is so very well written and so totally well-supported! I love how you have politely requested more information (it would have taken me SEVERAL edits to get all the swears out of my letter) and I like how you have explained why you disapprove of the punishment in terms of how it affects Connor. If this letter goes unanswered then there is something very, very wrong with the world indeed.

    Good luck!

  6. you have to CONSTANTLY remind them that you are part of the team. Good on you!

  7. Poor Connor! I can’t imagine his frustration and subsequent anxiety about having to stay inside during recess. I call BULLSHIT on that. Not to mention, there should have been a teacher waiting at the door to talk to you about it THAT DAY after school when you picked him up (you pick him up right–he doesn’t take the bus???).

    You just gave me a lady bone with your letter. Rock on, girlfriend.

  8. Thank you for sharing. I understand. Been there.

  9. Powerful email! Well written and it makes it clear that you not only know what you are talking about but you are not going to accept their wake and, frankly, chicken shit response! It amazes me how little detail eE are given until we shout. Of course we don’t want to be “unliked” but yes, it does end up that way sometimes. Excellent intervening mama!!! Can’t wait to read the rest.

  10. You are a winner over at my Blog!

  11. Thank you for writing this. We’re having Parent Teacher conferences this week and I’m having a similar issue with my son’s teacher’s. I was having trouble formulating the words at how to approach the subject and then here they are! I hope things resolve well for both of us!

  12. Yeah. I’d rather complain about snack cakes and Swiffers than do this kind of thing too. There are days when I don’t even feel like I understand autism, let alone be able to articulate it to someone else. Um, not that you should have to articulate it a Special Ed teacher, of all people. But, when I have another day of cloudiness and confusion, I will re-read your letter. Nicely done, Flan! Hope you get some positive resolution soon.

  13. Pingback: Strategies For Social Skill Development in Children With NLD | Therapy Stew

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