No one takes criticism well. Someone with autism takes it even less well. So our week at high school, with our autistic son, was an adventure as some constructive criticism was directed our son’s way. He didn’t take it well to say the least. To say the most about it takes a blog entry.
Twirling, Whirling and Skipping
Our son twirls, whirls, and skips daily. He tells us it gives him great joy to do so. It has not been a huge issue before, although we do correct his behaviour out in public as the arms swing out when he moves. I do not take my son into a china shop. However, at school it has not been an issue. That is, until this week. He was skipping down the corridor happily on the way to class when another EA shouted out to stop. There are no shades of gray in my son’s life. He felt he was told to permanently stop a behaviour that he adores. Sometimes disabled people are treated less than their peers. Another child would have shrugged off the EA’s comment and continued to class, another child would have been taken aside and spoken to, another child would have not been skipping down the hallway in the first place and not been shouted at. My child is autistic and felt confused, embarrassed, and angry.
When things get too much for my son, he walks; literally, out of the situation. When stress gets too high, he leaves the situation. This is not a huge issue at home, as he has his room. There is a study room at school where he can go to, but it is also used by another student and EA when our son has classes. When a situation develops, he leaves classes for a walk. Often he will end up in his study room. This week, of course, was the week the other EA also used some constructive criticism with our son. Elevated as he was, this did not go over well. Our son ended up walking out of the school. There was the call home, which my husband took, and then the process to get him back in the school. We had a fun time at home too, after the fact. It all ended well, but for one of the first times ever, he brought up the conversation himself to me. He told me what had happened at school in a difficult situation. Often it is weeks later that we find out that he has had a “walking out” incident.
It is never an easy thing to correct our son. Many of his behaviours stem from his autism, but some are just plain teenager too. We find it is better to choose our moments for constructive conversations in behaviour. It is better to pick your battleground to win the battle. We know that nothing will get done if he is in an elevated mood. He does better, and is more reasonable, when he is calm. That is like most of us. Our son just has more ups and downs in his behaviour. In order to win the war with autism in our house, we choose our battles carefully.