The battle of the bears

January 7, 2010 at 10:00 am 9 comments

     I am a passionate advocate for kids who struggle with all sorts of challenges. While I used to be the Mom in the grocery store wondering why a mother couldn’t control her children, I now diagnose the kids in my head and offer an understanding smile to the other Mom. These kids (and their Moms) work hard just to get through their days, and I am the first person to give them all their due credit for how they cope and survive.

     Now I have finally come face to face with my own limitations in this area. I am somewhat perplexed at my own reaction to another child with autism at C’s school. Both C and this other boy are friends with the same third boy. Before C came along, it was always the other two – they’ve been inseparable for years. Now C has gotten in the middle of the two, and the other boy with autism is NOT happy. He makes no bones about his feelings for C and says things like, “I wish C would just disappear,” and “I don’t want to have C over because I don’t like him.” All of this is said to C’s face, and while C misses many social subtleties, this one is not at all subtle and C takes in every word.

     So Mama Bear meets Advocate Bear. I look at this other child and have an internal battle between my urge to defend C with whatever means necessary and my desire to be compassionate toward the other child. I find myself drafting, but not sending, carefully worded emails to members of his team demanding that something be done. I then feel guilty about that because I understand the problem, and C’s nothing short of fantastic team members are all very aware of it and are already doing everything they can to calm the situation. Yet as often happens with these types of issues, the solutions aren’t working.

     At what point does the other boy’s right to be who he is infringe on C’s right to be who he is? And vice versa? What to do when dealing with not one, but two kids with special needs whose worlds seem to collide in an unhappy way? If C were a different child, I might have some success in explaining exactly why this other boy is being so hurtful to him. I’ve tried that already, and not only does it not compute, but it’s getting to the point where this boy’s actions are interfering with C’s emotional well-being on a daily basis. Ultimately, after a particularly unpleasant incident in the school lobby yesterday afternoon in which the other boy told me with a certain amount of glee just how much he doesn’t like C, Mama Bear won out. I suggested to the boy that perhaps he should say those things inside his head instead of actually saying them out loud (it didn’t matter – he repeated the words in response), and came home to send that carefully worded email to C’s team. I’ve had enough of this boy’s behavior, and more importantly, so has C.

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Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

C-isms Part IX Sleepy head

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. therocchronicles  |  January 7, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Oy. That’s a hard dilemma. Do you know this boy’s mother?

    I’m curious to see how the team responds to your carefully worded email.

    Reply
  • 2. pixiemama  |  January 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I think you are absolutely right to go to the team. They need to work with all three boys to rectify this … somehow. I have no suggestions – I’m no expert – but they are supposed to be the experts!

    Please let us know how it unfolds.

    xo

    Reply
  • 3. Shivon  |  January 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    “While I used to be the Mom in the grocery store wondering why a mother couldn’t control her children, I now diagnose the kids in my head and offer an understanding smile to the other Mom”<— ME TOO!!! Mama Bear always wins. Glad you are back 🙂

    Reply
  • 4. robinaltman  |  January 8, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I’m glad you sent the letter. It’s one thing to be nurturing and understanding, but the child shouldn’t be allowed to be cruel. If he were hitting C over the head with a bat, the team would intervene.

    Reply
  • 5. mommy~dearest  |  January 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Wow. What a sucky situation. But I can totally see your struggle between Mama and Advocate. I think you handled it wonderfully. My son can be “that kid”. Due to the expressive language issues, he often says things about (and to) his little brother like “Rylan needs to live in a different house”, “I don’t like Rylan”, “He needs other parents”, etc.

    Although I know a lot of it comes from not having found a more appropriate way to express his feelings, it still sucks for the receiver of the comments.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  • 6. awalkabout  |  January 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    On the other hand,. in the real world (ours feels SO unreal most of the time!!) it is perfectly acceptable for there to be people that you don’t like. You don’t HAVE to like everyone. You don’t.
    So is it really fair to assume that everyone should like our child, even if we think they’re the best thing since sliced bread? The Captain, in junior high, where heaven knows no one likes ANYONE, is having a hard time, as most of us did. But this is one of those areas where people can learn tools to deal with negative reactions. Rather than trying to change the other child’s feelings/manners, perhaps C could learn how to move past the rejection in a positive way.

    I certainly agree that no one has to like everyone, and I have no problem with this child not liking C. My problem is the constant, pervasive, bordering on abusive negative comments. No one should have to put up with it, and I think letting it continue sends the wrong message on so many levels. While we all are certainly working with C to deal with this and not let it upset him so dearly, he is basically doing nothing wrong except trying to be friends with someone. So I have a hard time with only working on C’s end of it.

    Reply
  • 7. mama edge  |  January 9, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    You are doing that child a big favor by prompting the team to do their job and help him with his social skills. Good for you.

    Reply
  • 8. Alison Auerbach  |  January 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    My empathy for children on the spectrum comes from my own inability to be tactful… especially when it concerns my son’s well-being.

    Your self-control is admirable, as I it would have taken everything I had to get out of that lobby without ripping into that kid. Encouraging him to say those things in his head is above and beyond the call of duty.

    I’m not trying to nominate you for sainthood or anything 🙂 Just trying to acknowledge how very hard it is to get Mama Bear to play nice. I hope you let her out for a growl in the privacy of your own home.

    Take care…

    Reply
  • 9. goodmum  |  January 11, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    As others have said, Mama Bear will always beat out Adovocate Bear. I think, though, that you are perhaps the best Bear no matter which one you are being, as you’re a Mama Bear who’s totally empathetic and wonderful.

    Reply

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