When you first glance at my son, he appears to be a normal, neurotypical almost 8 year old boy. If you see him on the playground or in the classroom, at first he seems just like everyone else. Watch the playground for a longer period of time and you can often see some of his social deficits. Often boys play made up games, and my son can make up games with the best of them. However, often the rules change during play. While the neurotypical boys can roll with the punches, my literal, concrete, rule-boy cannot. This leads to frustration, and unfortunately sometimes tears or even anger (usually self-directed as he is frustrated that he just doesn't get it). In the classroom, he usually doesn't get the jokes or the play on words, but he knows it's supposed to be funny so he just laughs like the rest of the class. (Similar to the why Eat Mor Chikn is funny post).
My son has significant issues with expressive communication. While my son's buddy J can go home and tell of the day's adventures in details, I have to drag out the day's events from my son. He's not the world's greatest storyteller either. This was painfully obvious during second grade writing journal. It was a constant battle with is 1:1 aide. Now even though his IEP clearly stated that they could & should offer alternatives for writing assignments (such as drawing pictures, cartoons or making dioramas) they never did. But they DID complain on how he would "ignore" them, not look them in the eye (well DUH! He has Apserger's Disorder--this is one of the hallmark traits of kids on the spectrum), so they decided he was refusing to work.
Oh yeah, I can't WAIT to see is 4th quarter report card. It should be an entertaining & interesting read!
Now while my son often subconsciously hides many of his Asperger's traits (he has even learned to fake looking people in their eye by looking at their chin), he absolutely cannot hide his sensory issues.
The ONE thing that the advocate observed when she did a classroom visit was his sensory issues. If he was frustrated or anxious the foot would tap or the pencil would be tapping on his desk. He would wiggle to reset his internal mechanisms. Or he'd stretch. He seemed a bit fidgety to her, but not hard to engage with the right technique. (Which reminds me why is it so awful if a child learns better through practical applications of studies or through play? Someone please explain this enigma to me.)
He started art therapy a few weeks ago. He so loves art, that he had no reservations about going into her studio without me. In fact if his therapist & I chat for a few minutes before starting he gets anxious and antsy. When he works on his creations, he is more talkative. Still with his pragmatic deficits, and often a one sided conversation, but he'll at least attempt to express himself verbally while being creative. But once the air conditioning kicks in, he jumps & she can see a change. If the sun moves and the shadows change, he notices. If a loud car drives by her home (a rarity) he notices. When she changed the seat cushion, he noticed. She changed brands of clay, and boy did he notice the change in texture. As my Mr. Touchy McToucherson loves to touch EVERYTHING, he does rather well with clay.
Now since my son seeks visual input, but has sound aversion, fireworks are always a real treat. He can't handle the noise, but loves the sparkly lights in the night sky. He is touch seeking with his hands, but oversensitive everywhere else so ear plugs are very uncomfortable for him. (Sheesh, he has a hard time swimming the backstroke as he hates how the cool water feels in his ears. He is considering the ear plugs because he is motivated to pass to the next level) Last year's solution? We watched the NY fireworks on TV. We don't have a large screen TV but is large enough to get a decent view, and often they play music in the background. Plus instead of the loud vibrating BOOM! POW! of live fireworks, it's more of a pop & crack in TV land.
Unfortunately his "friends" have started to notice his sensory differences. And like some 7 and 8 year olds they feel obliged to comment and question. My son does not want to be different. And this has caused some power struggles in school with the resource room teacher and his 1:1 aide. Even they forget he is different and have labeled him as difficult.
I wish I could do more to help my son. But I don't even know if what I am doing is right, never mind the fact that I know that I am doing the best that I can with the options that are available.
I don't want to change my son's neurobiology, but I wish I could help him to accept his own idiosyncrasies, perhaps his friends might be more likely to accept and embrace his differences, because after all he is more same than he is different.