If you have ever wondered how autism translates into every day challenges…here is a good example of how the autistic brain is simply wired a bit differently and how you have to approach “problems” with an open mind. Never EVER assume you understand what is wrong without really thinking it through. His brain just ticks differently. Things are not always what they seem…
My boy: Mom, I think there’s a problem with my math homework!
Mom: What’s the problem?
My boy: I think I am supposed to use a worksheet. *he opens book and shows me a worksheet* (The worksheet is a generic double row of number lines)
Mom: One like this one here in your book?
My boy: Yeah, I think so.
Mom: Well, it’s right here with us, that’s good. So what’s the problem?
My boy: I’m not sure where to start. I have to do problems 5 thru 8 and 11 thru 13.
Mom: So let’s start at the beginning with number 5.
My boy: Well, I know that. *boy uses disgusted voice*
Mom: Okay, then what is our problem?
My boy: Well, I don’t know.
My boy: I think I’ll just do the best I can. *boys voice deflates a bit*
Mom: I think that’s a good place to start, my friend.
*let the homework commence*
A few minutes later when I went back and asked if homework was going okay and if there were any problems…
He says, “It’s not a problem anymore. I just didn’t know which number line to use first because they don’t have numbers. You know 1, 2, 3 so you know to start where the #1 is?
Mom: Yep, that’s a very good point. You okay now?
My boy: Yeah, I just forgot I could number it myself.
And honestly, in a classroom setting, a child like mine may be so frustrated by not knowing where to begin that they may melt down because there is no “1” signaling HOW to start. And, a teacher who is not aware of the internal struggle, the want to achieve success, and how the anxieties can rise quickly may think it’s laziness or lack of understanding when really it’s just a lack of numbering. A child may waste an hour in a melt down, losing it in front of their peers and being labeled aggressive or uncooperative… all because they were unable to figure out where to start. Teachers HAVE to understand their students and how autism works!! Understanding autism and the brain wiring is so key to finding success, acceptance and building self esteem!