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Rushing to the Rescue

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive March 2007: Rushing to the Rescue
By Bea on Friday, March 23, 2007 - 05:28 pm:

by Linda Witham Joyce
Schowalter Washington, USA

There's a boy in my son's eight grade class everyone thinks is a bad kid. I've heard he talks loudly, disrupts the class with bursts of negative comments, and doesn't participate in groups. He also stands out as the tallest, with the most mature body.

Other parents tell his mother they're scared of him. Yet he's never been physically aggressive. In fact, he's hypersensitive to touch.

I'll call him "Joe". Most parents and kids don't know Joe has Asperger's Syndrome. People with Asperger's must learn about socially appropriate behaviors, somehow their brains don't have it wired in like most of us. It's very hard for Joe to regulate his social behavior. He's worked hard since second grade. He has friends who support him with cues and comments, and has come a long way.

Joe's in the highest-level math and reading classes. He wants to be on a school activity committee, but parent volunteers refuse him. They don't know he realizes he's an outcast, and works hard fit into the school's social networks.

I wish those parents had seen Joe walking home from school one cold winter day in January 2007. Driving by, I saw him run and kneel down by a little girl lying on the ground.

Joe brushed hair from her eyes and smiled. She smiled back through tears, having slipped and fallen on the ice. Joe took off his coat and spread it out, then helped her move to sit on it.

He gathered her belongings from four feet away, putting them by her on his coat. He wiped snow from her knees and hands, turning her hands front and back to check for injury. He helped put her hat back on.

Then he helped her up, took her hand and walked her home. He carried her pack, then rang her doorbell. Her sister rushed her inside, but the little girl smiled back at Joe. He set her pack down by the door, and walked home smiling.

I stopped by Joe's house later. I asked to talk to him and his mother looked worried. When I said, I want to compliment him, she looked so relieved.

I told Joe that I'd seen him help a little girl today, and that I didn't get out of my car because he had everything under control. I told him he handled the emergency perfectly and I thought he was a hero. I saw Joe's beautiful smile again.

His mom cried as she showed me to the door. We stepped outside and she sobbed because it was so rare for Joe to show compassion and to be acknowledged in a positive way. I cried because Joe's mother worries so much about his future and the challenges he faces from society.

We cried together for all the "adults" in Joes' life who assume he's a bad kid. Please, take today to look at a "bad kid" a little differently, and somehow acknowledge the good in them. It means so much.

By Bobbie~moderatr on Friday, March 23, 2007 - 05:59 pm:

Very sad but very nice non the less...

By Mara on Friday, March 23, 2007 - 07:17 pm:

I love this Bea! My 10 year old ds a lot like this child in the story. Except that he is emotional, and has more compassion than a lot of adults I know. His second grade teacher thought he had Aspergers and we went 2 hours away to a special pedeatric center to have him evaluated..turns out he is fine, just ADD. He is currently being treated and thrives in school. This story brought tears to my eyes, some kids are so misunderstood!

By Mom2three1968 on Friday, March 23, 2007 - 08:50 pm:

What a beautiful and also sad story, does make you want to stop and look at kids just alittle more closely, maybe they aren't "bad" just different and misunderstood...

By Kym on Friday, March 23, 2007 - 10:47 pm:

My dd has had a "joe" in her class through last year when he was pulled out of his foster home to live in a children's home for a year, he is back at her school this year and an outstanding young man, he recieved discipline, medication, counceling and love!
Thanks for sharing.

By Marg on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 08:49 am:

This is sad but this is how our society is today. No one wants to 'take the time.'

Dh works with emotional disturbed children and is 'specialized' in working with kids with asperger's and autism.

The kids love him and always come to home, but outside of that safety net these kids are yelled at, mislabeled and made fun of...

By Dawnk777 on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 09:40 am:

That story brought tears to my eyes. People should look beyond the surface!

By Bellajoe on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 02:42 pm:

my nephew has a form of Asperger's. I'm going to send this to my sister right now.

By Justanaunt on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 03:52 pm:

Very touching story. People need to learn to see someone for who they are deep down inside instead of on the surface.

By Ginny~moderator on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 05:49 pm:

My oldest son has a mild form of Aspergers, and does just fine. One of the lawyers in our office has more severe Aspergers - cannot look people in the face, mumbles when you say Good Morning, has some "twitches" - but he is considered one of the best lawyers in the firm because he does wonderful research and writes fantastic briefs. The attorneys who work with him value him very highly.

By Crystal915 on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 07:51 pm:

This is a wonderful piece. Ginny, it's interesting that you say that. We all have "partners" at work, another manager that will take care of our employees if we're out or on vacation. My "partner" has Asperger's and his sons both have Autism. I never would have known, had he not told me when we were training, and he said it's very difficult to look people in the eye, and if someone is too close he feels panicked. He's incredibly intelligent, has a background in IT, and I consider him one of the best managers in our building, and a really great guy. He wasn't DXed until adulthood, and I wonder how difficult his childhood was, if people just thought he was a bad kid.

By Hol on Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 09:21 pm:

My Michael, too, has a mild form of Asperger's. His psychiatrist says that it falls under the umbrella of Autism in the DSM-IV. Because of his childhood abuse and trauma, he has ADD and post-traumatic stress syndrome, too. When he came to me, he had a terrible head tic. We took him to a neurologist for a work up to rule out seizure disorder. He is a very sensitive, caring young man. He loves animals. He sees beauty in the smallest things and listens to classical music because he says it "relaxes him". He is very outgoing (which is unusual in Asperger's) but he is also very easily hurt, emotionally. He, too, is a big guy and extremely strong. If he WERE a violent person, he could really hurt someone.

He has always felt like a "square peg", too. He has always been in Special Ed and is in a special ed high school, due to graduate in June. You probably remember our saga of how our local middle school ignored his IEP when he came to us and main -streamed him. He melted down and THEY placed him in the school he is in now. However, DH and I had to go all the way to Federal court to keep him in that school. He has flourished there. The other thing that brought him out of his shell was Boy Scouts. They welcomed him and accepted him. He had come from another city, in kind of a rough area, where Scouting wasn't "cool". He is very artistic and loves to draw and paint. His school turned one of his paintings into their Christmas cards (with my permission). He wants to be a plumbers apprentice when he graduates in June.

I SO agree about the stigma that people put on these kids. In my case, too, because my younger boys are adopted, and were in state care, some people act like they are "different", too. You all know that my police officer son-in-law will have nothing to do with them because, if they were "state kids" they must be "bad kids". It makes my blood boil.

We all have something to offer. I wish we could all look at people the way Jesus did.

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