Monthly Archives: November 2012

Chain Reactions

Calhan, Colorado high school cafeteria.

Calhan, Colorado high school cafeteria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids with autism are funny, for many reasons.  But one interesting thing I’ve noticed is how they exercise control.  They tend to have curious reactions that follow a seemingly unrelated event.  For example, when Evan gets a headcold, he stops using the toilet.  I don’t think it is related to ability—that is, I don’t think having a stuffy nose makes Evan forget how to go to the bathroom.  I think it is just a strange way to cope with things that he can’t control, or a weird way to control one thing when another thing is out of his control.  “I don’t feel well, and I can’t tell you why or how, so I’m just going to completely stop playing ball with you until you pay attention to this problem,”  Either that or, “I have no idea why I suddenly can’t breathe and my nose is running and my head hurts, and I don’t know what to do about it, so I’m just going to revert to a behavior that I engaged in two years ago and maybe that will make it all better.”

I don’t know if he’s really thinking any of these things.  As with everything else that goes on with Ev, I can only guess.

So, when a bunch of kids with autism are together and things go wrong for one kid, and that affects another kid, well…that’s when the fun really begins.  Take, for example, yesterday in the school cafeteria.

Evan brought his lunch and his chocolate milk over to the seat he sits in every single day.  Except, someone was sitting in that seat.  Okay.  The aide moved Evan to a different seat.  However, in the different seat, he was now sitting next to a kid that was talking constantly and wouldn’t shut up.  Naturally, Evan reacts to this by refusing to eat his own lunch.  Because…just…yeah.  That’s how the reactions go.  The aide, hoping to rectify the situation, tried to move Evan to yet another seat, one that was away from the talker.  Evan had other ideas:  he climbed up into the lap of the aide and refused to get down.

So, at this point, everyone is happy.  Right?  Ha ha ha.  No, another kid decided that he didn’t want Evan on the aide’s lap.  We’ll call that kid…I don’t know…Nemo (I don’t actually know the kid’s name, so I’m afraid that if I pick a typical human-child’s name, I’ll accidentally be breaking some privacy law.  So I shall give him the name of a fish).  So Nemo resorted to his patented go-to move when things aren’t going his way:  he vomits all over the table.  Nemo’s aide, ironically, is a person who vomits whenever she sees someone else vomit, so…she vomited all over the table (and now is the appropriate time to wonder why they paired that child with that particular aide).

Eventually, everyone got cleaned up and survived the experience.  What this has taught me, first and foremost, is that I never, ever, ever want to work as an aide in the elementary school.