As I walked into school with my daughter, Brynn, there was another girl right behind us.
I’ve interacted with her before. She’s a bit nosey and tends to ask questions at the worst time, but a she’s a sweet girl.
In one of my previous post, I wrote about Brynn’s incident on the school bus. Since then I pulled the plug on it. Her maladaptive behaviors* were flourishing there and since those behaviors are my number one concern, I decided the bus wasn’t for her for the time being.
* The term “maladaptive behavior” is used to describe types of behaviors that inhibit your ability to adjust to situations.https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-meaning-of-maladaptive-3024600
Of course, now that I’m taking her to and from school, she has found different ways to showcase her behaviors. She started knocking things off the fronts desk, tearing things off the wall, and/or going after other students as we walked down the hall.
So fun. So, so much fun.
Hey, there’s my maladaptive behavior…sarcasm.
During her therapy sessions at home, they use a token system, which we have also incorporated outside of session. For instance, she has a token board for poops on the potty. Every third token she earns she gets to choose from the reward board.
So, now, I’m trying a new thing to help her walk nicely to class. I call them “treat” tokens. She (and Pace) get a small treat at certain stops on the way to class if she walks nicely, meaning she keeps her hands to herself, doesn’t pull from me, doesn’t pull things off the wall, or knock things off the front desk. It’s been working, although I must change out the treat tokens every couple of days or she gets bored.
Thankfully, it’s gotten better. She tries to act out here and there from time to time, but I remind her of her treat token, and she pulls out of it.
Yesterday morning was going great.
I’m sure by the title of this post you imagined I would be writing about Brynn’s triggers.
It’s about mine.
One thing I’ve learned in the last few years, there are two conversation topics that instantly cause my walls to go up and my inward fury to ignite. The logical part of me understands humans are curious beings and most questions come from a good place. Unfortunately, my logic doesn’t rear its head before my emotional side in these situations. I’ve gotten better at handling such them, BUT it’s very challenging.
The little girl I mentioned before hit both of my triggers yesterday.
First she asked motioning towards Brynn, “Is she your daughter?”
Ok, here is why this question sets me off. No one and I mean no one has ever asked if Pace is my son. Once again, I guess I get the curiosity. I have one black child and one white child, but I think it’s safe to assume the little girl I walk into school every day, holding hands, giving a hug and blowing a kiss to is my daughter.
“Yes,” I answered curtly.
Then, THEN, the girl pats her head and asked, “Does she have mental problems?”
What the FU…DGE?!
Trigger number two is on fire.
I took a deep breath, then answered, “No, she does not have mental problems. She has autism, which means she’s really sensitive to her environment, so she acts out sometimes.”
P.S. I need to figure out a better way to explain autism to kids!
“Oh,” she replied, “well, I hope she grows out of her…” patting her head again.
Oh, dang, apparently I have a third trigger.
“She is good and no, she won’t grow out of autism. And, just for the future, asking people if they have mental problems isn’t very nice. I know you didn’t mean anything by it, but I just wanted you to know that question could really hurt someone,” I replied, proud I didn’t lose my ever-loving mind.
She nodded. She was a little stunned by my response, but it was appropriate and something I would say to anyone asking those question.
There are people in the world who may not speak as well as you, but please don’t assume their cognitive skills aren’t on point.
Brynn, for example, is very aware of her surroundings. She pays attention. She knows what is being said and done around her.
So, no, she does not have mental problems. Not one little bit.
And, even if she did, it’s still a dreadful question.