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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Second Grade Misery

Culture shock struck me full force when I started second grade at a Christian school. I had just turned 6 and, up until then, I had lived a homeschool lifestyle. I didn't even have a sibling to interact with at home, so fitting into a classroom full of children was hard to begin with.

The first thing I learned at school was that the more I cried, the more the other little girls would ask me what was the matter. So I stopped crying, because I didn't know how to explain why I was crying. It could have been anything from confusion to disappointment to loneliness. Big words for powerful feelings - but a lot harder to describe than, "I fell down."

The day I caught a stomach bug, I followed the rule, "Sit still in your seat and pay attention in class." Now, I knew of three times when it was appropriate to raise my hand. (1) To answer a question during a lesson. (2) To give a suggestion, such as a favorite song. (3) To get permission to go to the potty - I mean, the restroom. Nobody said anything about raising your hand if you felt sick - not until after I turned green, belched, got escorted to the nurse's office, and was picked up and taken home. Then my mom suggested that next time I felt sick, I should tell the teacher.

Great idea! I thought. I will tell the teacher every single time I feel sick. I liked talking to the teacher so much that I "felt sick" every day after lunch. After several months of these complaints, inevitably, I did catch a flu bug. My poor second-grade teacher dealt with my vomit and promptly told my mom that sandwiches would be a much better lunch for me than yogurt. All the other kids ate sandwiches for lunch.

"But she won't eat sandwiches!" my mom declared. "She hates mayonnaise, hates lunchmeat, hates lettuce. She will eat yogurt!" Nobody told my teacher that people with Asperger's often are hypersensitive to discomfort and sometimes hypersensitive to flavors and textures (AKA picky eaters). Nobody told my mom that I might have Asperger's syndrome. No wonder that, between the two of them, they didn't know what to do with me!


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