Many of The Boy’s teachers have admittedly low exposure to students with autism. We’ve already mentioned the social studies teacher and her issues, several times. One of the teachers who has admitted from day one that he doesn’t know what he’s doing has been The Boy’s band teacher.
Now having been a band teacher, I have been more than willing to help, offering suggestions, explaining things to him, and we have had a pretty good relationship because I know he is trying. We had gotten into a routine of communicating via email, and he would let me know the assignments, and I would send him the practice log.
A few weeks ago, he didn’t let us know that the assignment had changed, and in fact, didn’t email me until after The Boy had taken a test on material he had never practiced. The teacher had realized his mistake, and emailed me with the week’s assignment, and that he would let The Boy re-take the test the following week.
That meant that the following week, we were practicing what the rest of the class had already finished the week before, and started to put The Boy behind the ball in this class.
And now this week, we have taken a different turn. I’ve been emailed several times, with efforts to “document” what the teacher feels is a disciplinary issue, with The Boy “refusing” to play. I explained that we were behind because of the earlier issue, and that we would try to get him caught up as soon as possible. And I continue to get emails, like the one this morning, asking me to “explain a discrepancy”: The Boy is struggling in class with pieces that I indicated on the practice log that he could play without difficulty.
Turns out, after closer inspection, I was using his symbol system wrong, and that in his minus, check, plus system, the check is the highest score… Mea culpa.
But this leaves me to wonder. Is the lack of knowledge of autism leading these teachers to act in this way? To want to kick The Boy out of their classes, or to prove that he “can’t” do what everyone else does? As a former teacher myself, I can’t identify with this, and I don’t understand it. The knowledge of a diagnosis in one of my students immediately caused me to be more compassionate, more flexible, and often spurred me to do my own research on the condition.
I suppose its root is fear. Maybe, with training, these teachers can be led away from their hostile instincts. Or maybe not. In either case, this is what we’re dealing with, and it’s confusing, it hurts, it angers. And I only have so much patience for teachers like this who should never, ever hold a child’s issues against them.