After sending my son’s teacher an email warning detailing his behaviors, I re-read it and realized I made my son sound like a monster. I am now taking bets to see if/when she resigns. I give her two weeks.
Here’s a snippet of what I sent—only slightly exaggerated. Enjoy
Dear First-Year Teacher:
Welcome! I am Booger’s mother.* I’ve attached a twenty-page textbook about my son to help you understand his behaviors/triggers. But, I wanted to give you a crash course in Booger 101.
Here is a Top Eleven list—because ten is an even number and, according to my son, even numbers are evil:
- He bites—himself and other people.**Things that set him off:
a. Being told “No,”
b. Being frustrated, and
c. Being in pain.
Try to avoid these things. Oh, and DON’T leave a cupboard door open–EVER!
- Booger suffers constipation. Please keep track of his BMs to let me know how often he goes—and what consistency. You can put a check box system on the page you send home:POOPED? [__] Yes [__] No
APPEARANCE: [__]normal [__] loose [__] pellets [__] weird color
Feel free to text time-stamped pictures if that is easier.
- If you could ensure that Booger gets at least 1 full glass of water—with a straw—this will help with #2. (And by that I mean on the list…but also…oh, I’m sure you get it.)
- He is a teenager.*** He has become a leader of The Resistance Movement and is plotting to overthrow your authority. Outright demands for his compliance are ill-advised. Instead of saying, “No,” trying phrasing things as First/Then statements.For example:
Teacher: “FIRST, we read The Happy Chipmunk Meets Mr. Grumpy Badger and THEN, at 10:00, you can dismember your crayons.
Booger: “No.” [throws tantrum despite parent’s excellent advice on classroom management]
- Booger hates reading. He destroys books. Actually, he destroys anything he can get his hands on—especially electronic devices. CDs were a common casualty in his previous school. He once bit a watch off a classroom aide’s wrist. He will reprogram your cell phone into Chinese. He will throw his iPad. He is a digital serial killer. You have been warned.
- Treat each situation like you are a hostage negotiator—his list of demands must be met, at least partway, or someone will pay. If you promise a treat, you’d better deliver. Deduct minutes from an activity, but don’t remove it altogether. Hell hath no fury like an autistic child denied his calendars or markers. Obviously, he can’t do everything he wants all the time, but give him a small amount of control over it.Example of Hostile Negotiations:
Teacher: “The markers have to go away soon. Do you need one more minute to finish?”
Booger: “Twenty Minutes.”
[Let the bargaining commence!]
Teacher: “Two minutes!”
Booger: “Fifteen minutes”
Teacher: “Three minutes.”
Booger: “Ten minutes”
Teacher: “Four minutes.”
Booger: “Seven minutes.”
Teacher: “Five minutes, and that’s my final offer.”
Booger: “Yes! Fifteen minutes!”
…until you get to an agreed point. Then show him the stop time on the clock or set a timer. (Warning: He loves timers. He loves them to death.)
- Booger is mostly non-verbal, but does have a certain way with words. If you ever see him write “Dick” and “Elevator” don’t panic! He is asking to be driven to the mall to ride the elevator at Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
- Booger may have migraines. There is no way to prove this, but, this is what it looks like if it happens: [279 words redacted. Imagine a painfully detailed description of a typical autistic meltdown…but with an added soupcon of drama, tears, and refusal of favored item.]If you think he is having a migraine, then you can give him the following meds. First…[An additional 104 words redacted outlining medical options for treatment of potentially imaginary illness. Can you say “Munchausen’s by Proxy? I knew you could!]
SCREECH TO HALT!
WARNING!!: The following sentence actually appeared in my letter to my son’s teacher…I was about 1,200 words in at this point:
I’m afraid it is hard to sum up my child in easy-to-read notes.
I’m fairly sure that sound you are hearing is his teacher laughing hysterically…or crying…I can’t be sure at this distance.
- No, Booger cannot have pizza every day for lunch.
- Booger is devious. He is plotting behind your back and will get to a forbidden item or desired objective. He will take advantage of distraction to reach his evil goal. Do not trust him…especially when he is at his best behavior.I know I sound paranoid, but I know my
demon seedchild and all he wants is to fulfill his master plan–whatever it is. You may have forgotten the thing you took away from him last week and put in a safe. He has not. He will deliberately distract you by being good for a while, and then, when you are occupied, he’ll go for what he wants. Respect his subversive intelligence or pay the consequences.
- Lastly, Booger is the reincarnation of Harry Houdini. He (Booger, not Houdini, although, actually Houdini too, hence the comparison…) has a history of eloping and getting very far away very fast. Unless you have someone dedicated to him as a one-on-one guide, he will escape.
I hope this wasn’t the
panic-inducing-epistle overwhelming info dump it feels like. But, I’d rather you were ready for Booger’s psychotic curious nature than unprepared. Forewarned is forearmed. But four-armed would be better.
Please try to see the best in him. He is a great kid and he doesn’t really want to act the way he does. If you have any questions after reading the attached tome, please call me. We can always do shots talk more about a behavior plan.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*Name changed because, honestly, I call him ‘Booger’ so much, he probably thinks it is his real name. (Don’t worry, I call him ‘Booger Sugar’ when I’m being especially affectionate. He is ‘Snot-nosed, Booger Boy’ when I’m not.)
**Honestly, the teacher learned about biting the first day when she tried to take markers away from him. Some lessons are best learned first hand! (With teeth mark tattoos for the rest of the year as a reminder.)
***Really, I could have just stopped at ‘Teenager’ but I felt compelled to explain what that looked like for three more paragraphs. Be grateful I redact for my blog.