One of my autistic students very firmly informed me today that I needed to change my calendar from May to June. All of my calendars!
After he helped me put the new numbers up on my whiteboard calendar, he kept reaching for the top of it, which was just out of his reach.
This student’s primary language is Spanish, but he does speak some English. But being autistic, he also sometimes isn’t able to get the right words out, in either language. In these cases, we have to problem-solve together.
I handed him the magnet reading June, in case he wanted to put it up himself. He motioned for me to put it back. I put it back on the whiteboard, centered. He made a gesture toward the left. I scooted the magnet to the left, until it was lined up with the edge of the calendar. He kept pointing to the top of the calendar, and at first, I couldn’t figure out what was missing. I tried handing him my sign that says White, but he wouldn’t take it. He started mumbling something, very softly, that I couldn’t decipher.
Then I remembered what the calendars looked like in the kindergarten classrooms, and it clicked. He wanted to add the year. I wrote it on the board, and he was immediately at ease, and stopped for a moment to admire our work.
It was such a little thing, and such an easy thing, but it was really important to me that I figure out what he was trying to communicate to me, instead of just brushing it aside or telling him to get back to work. It was such a little thing, but it made him so happy. And that makes me happy, too!