When we first started the blog, Ryan wanted to answer some reader questions. He did this, and recently, he received a new question from a family member.
She asked, “Ryan, I recently encountered a young man who appeared to have autism. I wanted to say something to him to show him that I understood a bit of what he was going through. I didn’t know what to say. What would be a good thing to do in this situation?”
REALLY KNOW THAT IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO ACKNOWLEDGE AUTISM, BUT MORE IMPORTANT TO SPEAK TO US NORMALLY. MOSTLY BEING KIND BUT NOT TREATING US AS BABIES IS ALL WE NEED.
I thought that this was a good answer, but she (the family member) thought it was a great answer and very eye-opening. I guess that this is what I assumed he might say, but she did not realize this. Because of this, I thought that this was important to share here.
On Monday, Ryan and Grace both went to get hair cuts with Ms. Susan, of Susie’s Family Cuts. Ryan has been going to see her since we moved to the DFW area almost 3 years ago. She has her own private room (with a door) in a salon and is very experienced with kids with sensory issues. She is extremely patient and does an excellent job with both Ryan and Grace.
The morning that they were both scheduled to get hair cuts, Susan texted me to tell me that the appointment before Ryan and Grace was having a hard time so it might be loud. I thanked her and we headed her way.
Once we got there, as soon as we walked into the salon, we heard the little boy wailing and screaming. This appointment was on a Monday, so the salon was virtually empty. I told Grace and Ryan what Susan had told me (forgetting to tell them while they were in the car) and asked them if they wanted to wait outside or to walk across the street to the 7-Eleven for drinks or snacks. Grace said that she wanted to go outside. I placed the letter board in front of Ryan and asked him if he wanted to stay and wait or go outside or to 7-Eleven to kill time.
His response: REALLY WANT TO THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME COMMUNICATE.
Ryan has been in that boy’s shoes. Hair cuts used to be excruciating for him and for us. I was always wiped out, both mentally and physically, after getting Ryan’s hair cut when he was younger. We used to buzz it short all the way around just so we wouldn’t have to do it so often. It was torture for all of those involved.
Now, Ryan likes looking good. He has a say in how he gets his hair cut. He still doesn’t love it and it is still hard for him. But now, he can ask to sit or stand or take a break or go second, etc. He enjoys the private room. He knows Ms. Susan and knows that she is patient with him and that she talks to him like any other 11 year old.
So when he responded with that statement to my question, I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed and smile at the same time.
We ended up going to 7-Eleven and then we did the hair cuts. Grace went first (because Ryan asked to go second). He was having a harder morning that day and said NOT SURE IF IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TODAY. I pushed him a little because I wanted to be conscious of Susan’s time and Ryan’s hair was super long (and he wasn’t tolerating his bike helmet due to the heat of his hair and the helmet and the 100 degree weather here in DFW). He also mentioned that HAVING STOMACH ISSUES TODAY.
I knew that it might affect his ability to tolerate the hair cut, but we went for it. He did amazing and sat very well. The hardest part for Ryan is the edging. It is extremely difficult due to his sensory issues. Lately, Ryan has been going into fight or flight mode a bit more quickly and frequently than he used to. When Ms. Susan tried to start the edging, he tried to slip out of the chair. I helped him stay there and held his head so that Ms. Susan could go as fast as she could.
Ryan ended up accidentally pushing her because of his fear. He is a lot bigger and stronger now and is not usually aggressive. This happens when he is afraid of getting hurt. I apologized to her and she said, “Stephanie, it happens a lot. Some of the kids are a lot bigger and stronger than Ryan. It is fine.” Again, another reason that we go to see her.
After the hair cut, Ryan looked amazing.
I asked him what he thought.
REALLY SORRY FOR PUSHING YOU MS. SUSAN.
She appreciated his apology and said it was not necessary.
I know that Ryan feels bad when this happens. I thought it was important to share this because this is the reality of autism as well. Ryan is such a sweet boy and does not have a mean bone in his body. It is hard sometimes.
As always, I run the blog post by Ryan before posting it. Here is what he had to say: HAPPY TO THINK TI WILL HELP FAMILIES. HARD TO HEAR IT THOUGH.
Here is the lesson that we did: RPM–Enzymes Science Fair–Middle School
Here are some pictures from the final product. Ryan hand wrote all of the titles and he helped me cut and glue everything on the board. As you can see from his face, he was very proud of his hard work.
The results from the fair should be up soon and we will share them with you when they are posted!
So that’s a wrap on fifth grade. I feel like Ryan is much older than a fifth grader. Perhaps it is because he is tall or that he is mature or that we do higher grade curriculum at times.
On to Summer fun! We will keep you posted on all of our Summer happenings!