Taking the temperature
I think we’ve discovered a therapy center that is actually going to help. I went into this with extreme skepticism, but after our first session on Friday I received more feedback than I did in six weeks at that other place. I know it’s not a panacea, but they’re doing the things that need to be done.
Yesterday they made this:
The point is to help learn to gauge his own emotions so he can start regulating them. They also created a list of things to do when his temperature gets too high, and I think this is going to be a fantastic tool.
But it’s also a fascinating look inside his mind. Super happy is a Texas Rangers home run. The persistent theme of the GPS is to be expected. “Happy” is just having the GPS, “a little bothered” is the GPS not getting a satellite signal, and “frustrated, annoyed” is a low battery on the GPS, which I can confirm.
“Mad” for being told what to do–not surprising. (This weekend he told me, “I want to do what I want to do, and I don’t want to do what I don’t want to do.” Don’t we all, my child.) “Really mad” for “I only saved $40 for my GPS” is obscure. I don’t know if that’s when he realized he needed more money to reach his goal or what this is about.
Where it really gets interesting are the top two. “When a boy at school keeps following me” is not completely new. He told me once that a boy at school kept following him at recess and wouldn’t leave him alone. I tried to get more details and talk to him about it, but he shut down. I really don’t know what’s going on–it could very well be that the boy just wants to be his friend and MapKid doesn’t understand. Or the boy could be picking on him. Or maybe both at once–the social dynamics of 1st graders are a trifle confused. But it’s obviously really bothering him.
And comes the top item, equating exploding with “when kids at school say I can’t join their group.”
Oh. That makes my heart hurt.
This is completely news to me. I hadn’t heard anything about him being excluded from a group, but the therapist told me that he talked about it at some length and was insistent that this was the most angry he ever felt. Apparently he asks if he can play and they say, “No, you can’t join this group.” Oh–ow.
Here’s what I immediately remembered: 5th grade recess. All the girls played Chinese jump rope. (I don’t know what made our form of jump rope “Chinese,” but that’s what we called it. You made the “ropes” out of small inter-looped rubber bands.) I ran up to Angela and Michelle and said, “Can I play?” “No,” they said, “This game is locked.” And they linked their pinkies together, the schoolyard symbol for “locking” a game to other players. And this happened not just once, but again and again and again. One time I asked my teacher, Mrs. Taylor, if I could just stay in the classroom and read during lunch. “Oh, no,” she said. “You need to be out playing with the other boys and girls.” “They won’t let me play with them,” I said. “Oh, I’m sure my girls wouldn’t be so mean as to do that,” she said. What an incredibly naive woman. How could you teach for 30-something years (she was about to retire) and not realize what was going on outside your window?
MapKid’s therapy homework this week was to ask two social questions of kids at school. He is to ask his friend R. (the one he previously bonked a head with a trunk) if he likes the show “Fetch with Ruff Ruffman” and a girl in his class if she is going to see “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” He frankly doesn’t see the point of these questions, or why he should brainstorm with Miss Nancy on ways to start a conversation. But he wouldn’t understand if I said, “This is why. Number 10 is why. Because you don’t know the rules, and so they won’t let you play with them. Because kids can be cruel and mean and adults can be clueless. Because I don’t have Asperger’s, I’ve got a pretty darn high emotional IQ, and I still was miserable on the playground, and it’s going to be even harder for you.”
Baby steps. The thermometer helps. The therapy helps. Sometimes I wish I could just keep him away from all this, but it’s the world, and you can’t keep your kids from the world they’re eventually going to live in.
But it still hurts my heart.