My son, Richie, starts middle school in the fall. It’s a big transition for any kid, and even bigger for those on the spectrum. An unfamiliar building, an all-new routine, and unknown challenges invoke the anxiety that often goes hand-in-hand with Autism.
To help the kids with their transition, our elementary school takes all the 5th graders on an outing to the middle school. They get to tour the building, check out a locker, and get a little inside scoop from the 8th graders who volunteer to lead the tours. I’m willing to bet that the leader of Richie’s group was a boy because he told them all about detention. Richie has spoken of little else since.
“If I get detention will they yell at me?”
“If I get detention and miss the bus, will you pick me up?”
“If I get detention will that be on my report card?”
This morning at breakfast, he asked if he would get detention for having Autism.
I wanted to say, “Of course not!” but instead I asked, “What do you mean?”
“If I’m not focused and I’m thinking about something else, what if they give me detention?”
“Oh, Honey,” I assured him, “they don’t give detention for not paying attention. Listen, Richie, you are a rule follower. I don’t think you’ll EVER get detention.”
“Really. You get detention for fighting, for being bad, for screaming at someone.”
“Oh, okay. But what about bad table manners in the cafeteria?”