I was watching Rojo play a football game in the basement on Sunday, when my cell phone beeped. “I’ve got food poisoning, I may not be in tomorrow – wanted to warn Rojo.” That was from his Resource Room teacher, who totally gets Rojo and gets that he does not do well with surprises, and gets that it’s better to let him know ahead of time that patience and flexibility may be called upon, than to spring anything on him.
“That was Mrs. R.,” I said. Rojo stopped his game, which is to say he stopped being the band, the ref, the coach, the players, and the fans. “She has food poisoning – she might not be at school tomorrow, and even if she is, she might be tired, so you will need to be flexible and patient.”
“Okay,” he said, then continued on with the SMU, Tennessee State game.
A few hours later Rojo’s aide texted, “I have the flu. I may not be at school tomorrow. I will text you later and let you know, and if there’s a sub. I just wanted Rojo to know ahead of time.” Again I filled Rojo in and gave him the Be Flexible and Patient speech. Again he said, “Okay.”
A little while later he said, “You know, I’ll just spend my day in the gym being Mr. H.’s helper if I’m not going to get the support I need.”
Done. He’d processed the whole thing, realized a day without his Resource Room teacher and aide was simply not going to work for him, and he’d moved on to Plan B. I don’t need to tell you parents of kids on the spectrum, what a big deal this is! Not to mention that he is able to articulate his need for support, and then find a different way of getting it when his first choice way doesn’t pan out.
It made me think about my own Plans A and B for support. My own ability to advocate for that support. My own ability to say, “Well, that’s not going to work for me, I’m going to need something else,” and my own ability to be patient and flexible.
I’ve got a ways to go.