Autism is the ability to Say It Like You See It

One of the important skills a teacher must master is to keep a straight face when students do innapropriate things. Even if what the student has said or done is hilarious. We have an autistic student named Jack. Like most autistic students he doesn't know when it's appropriate to say things. To make things worse he has a habit of mimicking things he has seen on TV. In most cases this is pretty funny. Where it becomes an issue is when Jake makes comments about other people. Again if it's not you he is talking about it can be hilarious. Autistic students say it how it is. A great example of this was last week when the music teacher Mrs Rabbit came into my learning support office. He was working on an activity and as soon as Mrs Rabbit came into the room he could not help himself but say hello and compliment her on her nice moustache.

Most adults can see through this and hold it together despite the embaressment. As a student in the year group, comment can be quite hurtful especially amongst teenagers. So here is the situation.

Chris came to me after lunch and complained then Jack had been calling him names. I question Chris and asked him if he had said anything to Jack that may have prompted him. Chris said that he has said nothing. Not five minutes later two more students Dominic and Gurnay came with the same complaint that Chris had been saying nasty things to them. I went down and asked to speak to Jack during form time. This is the story that Jack relayed to me and I am likely to believe him. Whilst reading this you have to remember that he is speaking a million miles a minute and including irrelevant information here and there. I did my best to keep a straight face whilst his story went on.

I was sitting next to Chris and I said to him, "Chris you've got small hands". Chris didn't reply and I asked him again. Chris didn't say anything, so feeling that I had said something wrong I said to him "you know I'm crazy and I say stuff all the time". I had just finished saying this when Dominic turned around and said, "Yeah you are crazy". All I said to Dominic was "if you want to get rid of those pimples you need to be putting cream on". Dominic didn't say anything else and went back to his work. Gurnay who was sitting next to Dominic turn around and called me crazy. All I said to him was "Gurnay you have a funny name I'm going to call you gravy".

After this both boys turned around and I didn't say anything else. I tried to talk to Chris this morning but he wouldn't talk to me. If the other boys said I said anything else then it's not true.

So from this I can make out that an innocent comment made about a students appearance had been blown way out of proportion and ended up in three boys feeling as though they had been bullied. Something that the boys had not encountered was Jack's motor-mouth. By the end of our meeting Jack seemed to understand that if he make's comments about people then in most cases he is going to get a negative response. The only difficulty we have now is his impulsiveness. In most cases he knows what he's saying but has little control over what comes out of his mouth. It is as though his brain is moving a couple of seconds behind his mouth. I know some pretty 'normal' people who are like this so ill tackle that one another day.

For more information on Autism check out this site: National Autistic Society