Sunday, August 29, 2010

Article: A School Example - Kaelan's Bad Day.

Here's something that used to be on my now-retired Family blog. Normally I keep my blogs quite separate but I think this instance is relevant here.

In this case, it's an article about my eldest son Kaelan's bad day at school. Kaelan is about three weeks shy of being 10. He has Aspergers Syndrome, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) and ADHD-Inattentive.

School is a real struggle for him both in social and academic terms because although people with aspergers often have social but not academic issues, the NVLD and ADHD-i components ensure that he has both.

I don't have any sage advice for his bad day. It's not his school's fault - they really are a good and caring school. It's not his fault either. In both incidents, a child with better communication skills could probably have understood and communicated the problems to reduce the impact.

I guess, it's just a good example of how things can spiral out of control much more quickly for children with difficulties.

If you want to read it, it's here;

Kaelan's Not So Good Day at School
Last Thursday, Kaelan had a bad day at school. He missed out on his Concerta (day-strength Ritalin) two days in a row and consequently was a little "off kilter".

Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting....
At recess, he and his mates were "pretend fighting". This involves doing slo-mo karate kicks and punches which don't actually make contact as each other. A little girl wandered past their group and Kaelan threw a kick at her without actually letting her know that it was a game.

She ducked and then decked him one - and the fight was on.

Luckily, they were "saved by the bell" and had to return to class.

Then, at lunch time, the girl's big brother paid Kaelan a visit and a more serious fight began. Eventually the vice principal managed to pull them apart.

After a while the vice principal got the story out of them and the two boys who were really good friends said sorry. Apparently there was a very cute "If we'd known it was only pretend, we would never of hit each other ..." type apology.

Joanne still got a call at home about it but this was good. It meant that she was ready for Kaelan to burst into tears when she picked him up after school.

An Unrewarding Experience
As it turned out, the day wasn't over. At Kaelan's school, they award points for good behavior. Naturally, it takes Kaelan a long time to earn enough points to get anything. He'd been saving his points for the whole year and eventually he got enough to get the lowest prize... a lollipop.

It made his day to finally get it.

Unfortunately, he started eating it immediately after school, while he was waiting to be picked up. A teacher saw him and told him to put it away or get rid of it. Obviously anyone who's ever sucked a lollipop knows that there's no way to put these things away neatly once they're wet - and there's no way he was going to throw it away... instead, he just tried to suck on it more discreetly.

It didn't work. (BTW: The teacher on the line had no idea that this was a prize he'd worked towards all year).

The teacher came over and grabbed the lollipop off him and threw it in the bin. Not willing to see his prize stolen, Kaelan tried to get it out of the bin only to be told that it was now "rubbish" and that he wasn't allowed to get it.


Then he got his school bag and threw that in the bin too. The teacher told him to get it but he told her that it was "rubbish" and he wasn't allowed to get it out of the bin.

I think they were a little shocked.

When Joanne drove up, the teacher handed Kaelan's bag to her, plus the lollipop. She tried to tell Joanne her personal sob story but Joey just replied that "he's had a really bad day and he's probably a bit over it".

The Aftermath
It took Kaelan most of the night to calm down enough to tell us exactly what happened. We told him to "go and apologise to the teacher tomorrow" because she didn't know that the lollipop was special.
After a bit of explaining, Kaelan finally understood her point of view. In the meantime, I think that the yard duty teacher talked to Kaelan's teacher and found out about his terrible day. Kaelan did remember to apologise and his room teacher told him that the yard teacher was in tears.

We haven't yet figured out if she was in tears over the incident or over the apology but we hope it's the latter.


Anonymous said...

Gavin. I'm a big fan of your blog and it's heled me a lot o understand myself. I have a problem though.

I'm a teenage male aspie living with an NT mom and an aspie dad (no brothers or sisters). They know i'm an aspie, and i'm not sure how seriusly they take it. this is the main reason why i havn't tried to tell my dad i think he has it too.

He's been really stressed ut for as long as i can remember. He has meltdowns a lot. I have them a lot too, but i just run off into the woods most of the time and try t calm myself down there. Lately, his have been getting worse, and it's been really stressful.

How do i tell him to stay away from me and my mom when that happens? Any advice?

Lori said...

When she threw his lollipop away, I wanted to yell, "But you don't understand how important that was to him!!" I have a 3 year old aspie and he wouldn't have handled the situation as well as your guy did. I'm thrilled to know that he was eventually able to see the teacher's side of things - Jack still isn't able to do that. But I hope they gave him another lollipop to replace the one he worked so hard for!

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

I'm with Lori. I hope he got another lollipop. In my opinion, justice demands it! And if he's going to be sensitive to how others in the situation feel, it's only fair that they return the favor.

Danette said...

Gavin, I love reading your blog. Such great insight. Kaelan's bad day made me sad though. Our kids have so many disappointments in their lives. I hope someone got him a new lollipop!

Miguel Palacio said...

Dang it! Your Free Stuff blog doesn't exist anymore. :-T :-P

Miguel Palacio said...

Your family blog isn't there either anymore.

Miguel Palacio said...

Danette, the disappointments continue on into adulthood. But I think we learn to become more tolerant, understanding and forgiving as we age.

Gavin Bollard said...

Miguel, I got rid of the family blog after two very close deaths in the family made it difficult to continue with happy family news.

I got rid of the free stuff blog because so many other people do it better than I did.

I have edited this post however, to put the "Kaelan's bad day" story directly into it.

Thanks for pointing out the missing link.

Miguel Palacio said...

Thank you forcreposting the story Gavin.

When Kaelan threw his book bag in the garbage bin I could totally empathise! And it was so symbolic too. That was a deep moment!

I'm glad it all worked out.

And yes, it is extremely difficult to "put a lollipop away after its been licked". It's not like we carry cellophane around with us for such moments.

Miguel Palacio said...

As you see, I'm still several years behind in reading your blog. But I'm savouring every bit of it!