Thank Goodness, I saved the receipt…

On a Saturday morning when my son and I were in line to buy a birthday card for the party he was attending later the same day, my son starts to talk to me about prime numbers and begins asking more and more complex questions. Suddenly becomes fixated on the impossibility of the number two being both a prime and even number (He likes numbers).  Suddenly, while trying to explain the nature of prime numbers in detail,  my son drops to the floor and starts screaming, “NO, DAD, NO..!!  TWO CAN’T BE BOTH…!!”

With my son crying and screaming on the floor, the cashier asking, “Is he okay..” and the other customers in line pulling out their cellphones like they were getting ready to call Protective Services on me, the birthday party, our day, and possibly the entire weekend seemed on the verge of ruin.  If you have a child with autism, you might relate to this story. The seemingly “Out-of-nowhere” situations that arise with no warning from our children on the spectrum and where the need for an instant solution not only threatens the calm of the moment but possibly the safety of all those around.

What we do in these moments can make or break the day.

And that is where the receipt came in… Scrambling for something to write on, I took out the receipt from my pocket and said, “Son, I’m going to write this down so we can talk about it after the party, okay?” Then I proceeded to show him the scribbled message that read, “Talk about prime numbers – especially #2”.  He immediately calmed down.

My son knew his need was going to be addressed and the note was concrete proof that he could see and touch. Ever since that day, I try to carry a small notebook – both at home and in class – to write down any sudden concerns so that my son (or particular student) will know they will be addressed, but in a pinch, a receipt will still do. Something as simple as a small notebook has saved me more time, energy, and frustration than you could imagine. 

Looking for other strategies or helpful simple ideas like this to help with executive functioning, classroom management and supporting student engagement, contact me at alan@teachthespectrum.com for resources.

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