Chapters 71 and 73

Chapter 71

In this chapter, Christopher explains his life plans and how’s he’ll achieve them. He has to take his exams, and do well enough to be able to go to university.

 

“Then, when I’ve got a degree in Maths, or Physics, or Maths and Physics, I will be able to get a job and earn lots of money and I will be able to pay someone who can look after me and cook my meals and wash my clothes, or I will get a lady to marry me and be my wife and she can look after me so I can have company and not be on my own.”

 

This quote can be interpreted to mean he wants a relationship – he says he wants a wife. But when he describes why he wants a wife, it gives us a greater insight into his mind. He wants someone to care for him: cook, clean, etc.  AND he wants the company, so he is not on his own.

 

As an SLP, I often struggle to engage my students with Autism.  Language is a social construct, and frequently my students with Autism do not socially engage with language.  Because of that, I may fall into thinking that they do not desire social interaction. The insight revealed in this quote – and really, throughout the book – is that people with Autism DO desire social interaction, but in a way that is different than neurotypicals do.

 

I have a 5th grade student with Autism, he’s been on my caseload since he was in Pre-K. He is FREQUENTLY difficult to engage using language – even with his dynamic device.  However, every time I see him, he initiates a hug.  And when we walk down the hall together, he may not answer questions, comment, or even look in my direction during our stroll, but he will invariably reach out to hold my hand.

 

Chapter 73

 

The topic of this chapter centers on how Christopher’s behavioral difficulties when he was younger and how they  impacted his parent’s relationship.  This is a tough chapter.  Parenting and marriage is difficult, and I imagine it would be even tougher when you are learning how to parent a child with a disability. Have any of you heard the statistic thrown around regarding the divorce rate for couples that have a child with a disability?  I heard somewhere that the rate was significantly higher. It’s irresponsible of me, but I don’t know WHERE I heard that statistic, and yet, I still shared it numerous times. I assumed that this statistic was a fact, because having a child with a disability DOES cause more stress in general and I assumed it would affect a couple’s marriage negatively. You know what happens when you asssume?  I thought I’d be more responsible during the writing of this blog post, and I looked up the statistic.  I assumed wrong. For married couples with a child with a developmental disability ( which included CP, Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disability and Unknowd), there is not a statistically significant difference in the divorce rate.

As a clinician, this chapter reminds me to support my students and their families with an empathetic ear.

–Chelsea Graham

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Chapters 71 and 73

  1. Holly says:

    Chelsea, it was a good reminder to be empathetic towards our families. One of my students with autism this morning told me, “my daddy lives in a different house than us”. He’s in 2nd grade, and it made me sad to this of him trying to process this.

  2. Kristin Kelly says:

    In chapter 71, Christopher describes how everyone has special needs (his father with the sugar substitute, Mrs. Peters with her hearing aid and Siobhan with her glasses) not just those who have Special Needs. I had to laugh because we all know SLPs have their own set of “special needs.” Mine include a need for an accurate and updated calendar, a hand written to-do list (grocery list, Christmas list….) and food on a semi-regular schedule to avoid getting hangry! What are your “special needs”?

  3. Lauren Taylor says:

    I have heard and shared the same statistic as well-without ever considering where it may have come from, and assuming it was true because it just ‘made sense’. Glad you looked it up, and now I’ve done so as well. It’s always nice when something turns out to be not quite as negative as you originally thought. 🙂

  4. Melissa G. says:

    I like how Siobhan takes the time to explain words and expressions to Christopher. She seems like a very patient and empathetic person. I know some teachers and aides that share some of those same qualities and realize how important they are to our kiddos.

  5. Katie Cohen says:

    I also like the part where Christopher identifies “special needs” of individuals around him. Throughout reading this book, I have been able to relate to many qualities that Christopher exhibits; I realize that I do have “special needs” myself.

  6. Kathy Mckenzie-Hensley says:

    I (like you all) absolutely loved Christopher’s realization of everyone’s “special needs.” How true it is! I won’t list all mine, but there is a list! In reality, everyone has their quirks, some just aren’t so noticeable. I’m sure to Christopher everyone else’s quirks are just as “odd” as his.

  7. Sarah Niemann says:

    Christopher talking about wanting a wife made me think of another one of my students who always said she wanted to be married and have kids because that is what everyone in her family does. She would consistently say this but did not understand the significance behind this decision but knew that everyone else around her did this so she thought she should as well.

  8. Sarah Crady says:

    When reading this chapter I was so impressed by Christopher’s ability to not only recognize his special needs but the needs of other’s around him. I have always tried to be intentional about talking in my groups about “Billy needs to practice his “r” but he is so good at sorting items in to categories” and “Sally needs to practice sorting in to categories but her “r” is so beautiful.” I have found that this helps the students be more supportive of each other when they realize they all have strengths but areas that they need to practice as well. Just yesterday, a student with Autism at our school was feeling frustrated and probably isolated as he is in general education classes most of the day. He was shouting “I am the only one in this school with special needs. I am different from everybody else.” When I heard him I thought back to Christopher’s analysis of how we all have special needs and plan on having a similar conversation with my student.

  9. Abby Ramser says:

    I appreciate that Chelsea made a point about relationships when there is a child with a disability. When I worked at an agency for people with disabilities and their families there were several discussions about continued focus on making sure the family structure was strong. If struggles arise they should be addressed. Divorce rates are higher in families of children with disabilities.

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