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“That Kid” at camp

Little Man is taking Intro to Java Coding through Minecraft tech camp this week. Awesome, right? He’s been (im)patiently waiting all summer for this week to arrive. There was no trouble Monday morning getting him up and out the door, except for a battle over his meds, which I gave in on.  He has been doing great this summer, unmedicated. But then again, he hasn’t really had to do anything he didn’t want to do. As I mentioned recently, he spends much of his days in front of his beloved screens, making videos, watching gamer videos, creating and playing in Minecraft, and playing video games. So why did I give in on the meds, knowing he was going to be spending a long day at camp, in a structured format? My thinking was this – he would be doing something that completely holds his interest, and would be in front of a screen most of the day.

He had some issues day one, when he got hungry. No problem – we sent him with snacks the next day. Things seemed to be going well – he happily got  out of the car each morning, and excitedly returned to the car every evening, excited to share what he’d learned, stories of his new friends, and what they’d created that day. And then yesterday….the moment I’d been fearful of, had been anxious of occurring…..it happened, the call from the camp director. He’d gone sideways – was being defiant and rude, wouldn’t cooperate and engage with what the class was doing. He wanted to do what he wanted to do on the computer, and was loudly voicing his opinion. I’m not going to lie – I said some bad words when I heard her voicemail. I called her back, and gave her some suggestions for dealing with him. I asked them to be firm with him, to set time parameters for him which seems to make it easier for him. Then I sent him a text, letting him know if he continued, if I received another phone call or had to come pick him up, he would be done with technology for the remainder of his summer. I also told him he would be taking his meds today and tomorrow.

I was nervous to pick him up yesterday. The director is the one who comes to the car to check kids in and out, and I asked her how the afternoon had gone. She said she hadn’t heard anything further from the instructor, so assumed he had been okay, and there hadn’t been any further incidents. Little Man reported the same when he got to the car. Whew.

Here’s the thing – he’s that kid all the teachers and directors know his name by day two. They know who he is. I hope they’re seeing his amazing side, not just his difficult, challenging, sometimes annoying side (I’m allowed to say he’s annoying – even knowing he’s not intentionally being a jerk). I know he’s “that kid.” That hurts. Here we are, four years past diagnosis, and I still go round and round on this…I would take it away, in an instant, because autism makes his daily life in this world so much harder. But I don’t want to take it away if it means he loses those incredible parts of him as well as the sucky parts. It’s just hard when your kid is that kid.

2 thoughts on ““That Kid” at camp

  1. I have been away for awhile but I absolutely need to comment on this because I have been there as the teacher from several perspectives. What you did was awesome. To me, Little Man isn’t “that kid.” As someone who runs classes and programs, I have been in the midst of a group class and been struggling with a child. Why aren’t they listening? Why are they being so difficult to deal with? Half way through class it clicks! Obviously I am in no position to “diagnose” but I’ve been teaching children for 20 years. And then once I realize, my whole perspective changes. I know how to talk to them and am much more patient. As a “teacher” it is so frustrating when you have a situation like that and Rock and I have no warning. We struggle through the first day and have our suspicions and so we ask at the end of the day, “Is there anything we should know or do to help make this the best experience possible?” When we get a “No” it frustrates us. We will work with any child and make any accommodations that are needed. All we need is an awesome parent like you to let us know. And when you help out on your end, everything is easy! Great parents and great communication yield an awesome working relationship. Be open with them and help out as you did and most teachers/coaches/leaders are happy to roll!

    • Thanks Sarah. I needed to hear that. He had a great day today, thankfully. I know he can’t be the only high-functioning ASD kid in this camp, but it’s easy to feel alone when you get that phone call.

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