Friday, February 17, 2012

Words Come Second

Just as I was working on this post, my friend at The Fragile X Files shared this Temple Grandin quote on her blog:

I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream.

A couple of weeks ago, Christian had a particularly rough day.  He had several color changes at school (color changes are given when rules are broken).   Normally, when I ask the boys how they got their color changes, they are reluctant to give me the details.  They often say, "I just don't know.  I just can't remember."   Sometimes, I think it's true and their minds are all-a-jumble; sometimes, I think they don't want to admit their mistakes; and sometimes, I think it's just too much work for them to put the whole situation into words. 

Surprisingly, on this day, when I asked Christian about how he got his color changes, he just spilled out tons of information.  In particular, he was upset with himself about a color change he got at recess.  He explained that a classmate was in his way, and he pushed her out of the way.   He told me he knew he should have asked her to move, but he just moved her out of the way instead.  I know this was not mean-spirited.  It's just that it takes a lot of effort for him to operate with words.  He knows he should, but I speculate that he often finds it frustrating and inefficient.

The next day I was a recess volunteer at school.  I was retelling Christian's story to the teacher on recess duty with me.  She said, "Oh, I was out here when he got the color change!" She told me that Christian's unhappy classmate came up to her and said, "Christian hit me."  Christian didn't defend or explain himself {again, too many words; too much effort}, so that was the end of it.  He got a color change.

I'm not saying Christian was right to push the girl out of his way, but this is just one example of the frustration and misunderstandings that happen everyday when words don't come easily.


  1. Bonnie's quote via Temple really hit home with me that day too. I think of times when I get so frustrated I could scream, and how hard that is to make sense of everything happening in that moment. Then I think of how it is for our kiddos, and how life is so rushed, and transitions come so quickly and they don't have the time to manage the situation, let alone find or say the words. Sometimes if I think about what it is like for them on any given day, at any given moment, it can almost break me. Then I think of all those things and how amazing they are through it, and I know how strong and courageous they are. Gives heaps of perspective, and thanks.

  2. I think people forget and expect kids to have the same thought process as adults. We didn't when we were kids and no kids after us are going to automatically be able to do that. I honestly think asking any kid "why" is a waste of time. Hell, half the time I couldn't tell you why I did something. They have a lot to keep organized for such young brains.

  3. Cari from Bubble Gum on My Shoe sent me. Great post about such a simple concept that we always seem to forget! I am advocating with several families right now who are experiencing these very things and the schools are trying to implement aversive intervention plans. Helllloooo? Can you say function of the behavior? Thanks for this reminder. You have put things clearly into perspective.

    -Angela (aka Caffeinated Autism Mom)

    1. Thanks for the visit and nice comment. So great that you are a family advocate! I've visited your blog via Cari's blog before, but I just had a lot of fun reading a ton of your recent posts.

  4. We can certainly relate to the screaming and frustration......even now that Nate has matured a bit and his screaming fits are few and far between, it is still difficult to see him struggle. He is very mellow most of the time, but he has a temper and he can lose self control very quickly....he still gets physical with his brother when he gets angry, but we're hoping and praying that he will continue to mature and be able to better use words to express his feelings....Thank you fo the reminder that our children do have alot to say...but just sometimes don't know how.