We noticed that our grandson Ben, who has Aspergers Syndrome (a high performing form of autism) had pieces of paper folded or in some cases wadded up just lying around the house. We began to read them to see if they were important enough to keep.
We discovered that Ben was writing about all of his frustrations at school and at home. We collected some and found that he is a gifted writer at expressing his feelings.
Ben’s years in the public school system were most unhappy for him. We are strong believers in public education. Ben’s mother is a second grade teacher in a public school system and my wife, Sue, taught for more than twenty years before she retired.
However, if we had it to do over, we would make every effort to find a type of education that would have better fit Ben’s needs. He definitely needed to be in a very small class situation where he could get a great deal of one on one instruction. I am not suggesting that the public schools cannot meet the needs of your particular child but in Ben’s case, not a lot was known at that time how best to teach Asperger children. Hopefully, methods have improved.
Here are two of Ben’s writings which were written when he was about fourteen years old:
“You say you want to help, yet the problem still persists.
You try to help me understand, but shortly after, you desist.
You want me to do better, yet you only hold me back.
You are always trying to raise my hopes,
But from all this, confidence I lack.
None of your ideas or plans are ever followed through.
I’m just some kind of circus freak to entertain you.
To those who do not understand, (the vast majority),
You’d stay at home and weep all day
If you knew how it felt to be me.”
“Class begins as the tardy bell rings.
I rush to get inside-I barely make it.
I quickly grab my calculator and my math book.
“Great! Homework on a weekend,” I say.
Only to be interrupted by a flash of the overhead.
I understand none of the formulas or the equations,
Or the problems, or the stress that comes with having to learn and understand.
All these random equations and symbols.
The warm-up is over.
Everyone else understands the explanations of how she got this number or that number.
I haven’t even lifted my pencil.
I struggle to understand Algebra once and for all.
I try to comprehend the formulas and numbers and signs.
But it only hurts my feeling of self worth.
And there’s the bell.”
How sad to know that Ben was crying for help and no one was there to help him.
It is critical that Asperger children be diagnosed as early as possible because they will need plenty of help once they start school.