Tess started the fourth grade on Wednesday.
She marched forward into her day.
And her desk was wobbly.
That might not seem like a big deal, but to Tess it was. She found it hard to focus on anything else, she said, except for the girl who sat next to her talking to her and bothering her all the time. “Maybe she’s just trying to be friendly,” I said. “I don’t care,” Tess said. “She’s bothering me by talking, talking, talking. I need my own space.”
She had her first meltdown in a long time after school that afternoon; I can only try to imagine the struggle she lives through every day to keep it together at school, so she has to let it out at home.
Yesterday was the second day of fourth grade.
Her teacher talked with the class about a boy in the class who has diabetes. They talked about what that means, and how they can all help Remy.
After her teacher finished that conversation about Remy, Tess raised her hand and announced to the class that she has Asperger’s.
She talked about what that means.
Then, evidently, she told her classmates about John’s sick kidney.
I am a puffed up ball of proud and tears.
A few weeks ago, Tess had a play date with her friend Josh who has lived through many of her meltdowns. I handed a book to his mom, Missy, and said I thought it might help Josh understand Tess. During their play date, they asked Missy to read it to them. The book was “Taking Autism to School,” and it told about kids with autism and Asperger’s and how they are different from neurotypical kids. Missy read the book to the two of them, and when she finished, Josh looked at Tess and then at his mom, and said, “Wow, Tess has superpowers!”
Tess told me a week or so ago that she wanted to create an Aspie shirt, and told me what she wanted on it–a flower, and “I’m an Aspie and I’m proud of it.”
Raise your hand.
Declare who you are.