I said earlier in my video post that I would talk about what Bubby's teacher told me at conferences 3 or 4 weeks ago. I am still a little emotional about it, but I think that I can make a post without crying all over my keyboard now, at least.
I have noticed that Bubby seems to not want any peers to spend any time with him in the last few months that wasn't mandatory. He turns away any child that comes to the door. If he does let them in, he begrudgingly plays with them, but only what he wants to play and for a short time. I had wondered why this is so. A few years ago, he would have been delighted to have a friend over. In fact, he asked for it, often. This shift has been setting on my mind precariously. I knew it had a reason behind it, and I had a feeling it wasn't a good one, necessarily. I was correct.
I found my answer at conferences. I sat there leaning forward earnestly in the little tiny chairs waiting to hear how great Bubby was doing. He is usually so well liked by the staff and tends to be a favorite of many teachers. His teacher is wonderful, just the most empathetic, warm, nurturing Grandma type you could ask for. I was hoping for his most spectacular year, because she is just so supportive. But, his peers, it seems have noticed his differences. She said that he 'marches down the hall like a Hitler march' (I'm guessing she means goosestepping) and it makes people stop and stare. It makes them laugh and point, which makes him mad and upset. He rocks in his seat and I'm sure hums, as that's his favorite stim. He tells on every eye roll, or push he receives, garnering no level of importance for a genuine put down to a mannerism meaning they would like him to stop talking. He tells on them all just the same. He becomes offended by them all just the same, and she said, he keeps score. Once you've been on the list of 'people Bubby don't like' you are likely never to leave the list. I can understand this, because I am a lot the same. I am more flexible and have levels to my lists, but I am much older. She sees this as a character flaw on his part, because as she put it 'if you block out everyone who ever upsets you forever, you will have no one left'. She also says that he does not ever partner up with any peer for anything. He prefers to be alone, almost all of the time. There was only one girl (it's always girls with him) that he made friends with and she was only a temporary student his year, unfortunately.
Of course, we talked to her about telling the kids that he does these things to hep regulate his sensory system, but do 4th graders really know what that means? Do they care? We also suggested that she read 'All Cats Have Asperger's' to the class to help explain it to them in a way they may be able to explain it. His 2nd grade teacher read it to his class, but it was his class that year. There's different kids in his class every year. I am hoping that is they understand why he behaves the way he does that they may be more understanding of his differences. I figure, we might as well identify them, and bring them out for discussion, because if we don't they'll come to their own conclusions about things, and they will probably be less than kind.
The part that makes me the most sad, is the wall of isolation he is putting up. His teacher seems to see it as an inflexible thinking pattern. A black and white solution to a social problem, that is further lending itself to more problems. I know what it is. I understand why it is there, and it's the reason I am so sad for him. He has decided that people are unpredictable, and manipulating. They do things in sneaky ways that are defined in their body language, or in a facial expression. He is unable to read these things with accuracy. He has decided that it is safer and easier to just be alone.He has realized that he is at the bottom of the social pecking order and will not be able to climb up. He was probably unaware that there was one until recently. He just knows that everyone else seems to have more info, more knowledge, more experience, more intuition than him at any given moment and he will be subject to ridicule and dislike without provocation. I know for every time the teacher has caught someone teasing him, or bullying him, it has happened at least five times where she didn't. He knows a truth that most autistics learn and that is most people can't be trusted. It is safer to be alone.
I was hoping that possibly his life wouldn't be this way. I was hoping that maybe he would have an easier time of it. I was wrong. People are still people, and social protocol is still basically the same. I was much older before I figured this all out. He seems to know now at age 10 what I figured out closer to age 14, even though he has always been significantly behind me in every other way in development. He has figured out that people can lie, cheat and steal without much thought. They sometimes don't follow the rules. They sometims are cruel to someone without cause only to better their social perception. These things don't make sense to an autistic person. We would never do that. We also don't see it coming when it's something we'd never do. Mindblindess is such that if we wouldn't do it to you, then we don't expect you to do it to us. The thought doesn't occur to us.
I just hope that he has left a little faith left in humanity to see that there are some good people out there. Sometimes, during the pre-teen and teen years these people are hard to find, because that's when they tend to be the most self-centered and even the most nicest teen will hesitate to put their social status on the line to stand up for the underdog. I hope he finds at least that one friend that he can share his time with, as well as his trust.