Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Special Needs Spidy Sense

One of the things that W and I seem to have developed like most special needs parents is that ability to sense something is up with another child or adult has more going on than it might seem.

Two weeks ago was engineers week and with my current job I have the opportunity to go out and present to local schools and talk about what it means to be an engineer and do a small design competition. I've been doing this for 3 years in a row with the same 2 guys and its always fun. This year though during the second class we were presenting at one certain boy caught my eye.

The second class we taught was twice the size of the first and as the kids came into the library  a young boy caught my eye. He was socially more awkward than a the other kids and seemed to be a bit of a loner. Even the table he sat at the kids didn't acknowledge him much.

During the presentation though is when it all clicked. I called on the young boy to answer a question and as he started to answer the other kids in the class began to whisper. He was instantly frustrated and said he couldn't think with all the other kids talking. Without blinking an eye I told him to think about it and just raise his hand when he remembered and I would give him a turn to answer the quest. After just a minute he was able to collect his thoughts and give his ideas on the topic.

Once we got the activity started I mentioned to one of the teachers that I felt bad for him. I figured something was up but didn't want to say anything too straight forward in the chance that I was way off base. Sure enough the teacher confirmed that he has autism and is in a special program that allowed for kids on the spectrum to be in class with typical developing kids.

Later as we were leaving the school the senior manager presenting with me asked how I knew what was going on with the boy. I told him about Alvin and he seemed so impressed. To me it was just second nature to just give him a minute to collect his thoughts but to manager I was with it was far from normal. He then told me he as panicking when it happened because he didn't know what to do.

I guess when you live with a child like this you just have a sense when something is up in others. W and I have always just been able to feel things like this out when we are out in public, but this was the first time I've dealt with it directly in a social situation that wasn't geared for special needs kids.

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