Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Failing Kindergarten

Reprinted from Yes, That Too

Trigger Warning: Quiet Hands

In my token Autistic speech (yes, I would replace my approved presentation with that at the last second if I thought I was being used as a token, BE WARNED,) one of the things I mentioned was that I would fail special needs kindergarten. (I was mainstreamed and there wasn't an issue.)
You see the posters of "proper listening" in your child's classroom? I can't do it. I would, legitimately, fail your child's kindergarten special ed class, today. I am not even joking. They would hold me back and I would be the adult who couldn't even pass kindergarten.
Despite my statement that I wasn't joking, I doubt you believed it. Maybe you thought I was exaggerating?
I wasn't. Here's a poster of the kind I'm talking about:

Image description: A poster with heading "Whole Body Listening!" and subheading "Larry wants to remind you to listen with your entire body." There is a picture of a young boy on the left, and on the right there are things to be done with each part, next to icons representing that body part: Eyes=Look at the person talking to you, Ears=Both ears ready to hear, Mouth=Quiet-no talking, humming, or making sounds, Hands=Quiet in lap, pockets or by your side, Feet=Quiet on the floor, Body=Faces the speaker, Brain=Thinking about what is being said, Heart=Caring about what the other person is saying.

And now, here's why I would fail special needs kindergarten:
  • Larry wants to remind you to listen with your entire body: UM. NO. One listens by using the brain to interpret and pay attention to the information coming in from the ears. My hands can't listen. I am a literalist, and I would bring this up. I actually knew that when I was the right age for kindergarten, too. So there's that.
  • Eyes=Looking at the person talking to you: As long as the general area of the person is good enough and they don't demand that it's actually their eyes, I can manage this one, usually. Enough to have managed in mainstream classes where they aren't always focused on it, but probably not enough for a special needs kindergarten where it's one of the big focuses. (Look, look, look!)
  • Ears=Both ears ready to hear: Not an issue, generally, but I haven't the foggiest how they assess that one. You can't look at my ears and tell when they are ready to hear or not, and sometimes being ready to hear and understand requires covering them to reduce the volume. Which they would probably consider not ready to hear.
  • Mouth=Quiet-no talking, humming, or making sounds: As far as I go, that works fine. I could do that when I am supposed to be listening. That's like, the only one which is easy to verify that is not an issue.
  • Hands=Quiet in lap, pockets, or by your side: I can't do that, and I have better things to do than waste time and energy trying. It's also abusive to demand it. No, really. Go read Quiet Hands. But as far as I can't do it goes: I'm in college. I still can't do it. I have to doodle or something. Sewing, knitting, or making chainmail seem to work best, since I don't have to think about what I'm doing with my hands and can still participate in class discussions. And yes, people tried to teach me not to do this. It didn't work. The worst I ever dealt with as far as quiet hands in class was probably the time in Hebrew school when my teacher kept confiscating whatever object on my desk I was fidgeting with. In the end, she took my pen. Yes, really. A teacher took away my writing implement in class in an attempt to get me to sit still. Obviously, it didn't work. There was a string tie on my shorts, and I played with that instead. She threatened to cut the strings off, and I told her she'd be buying me a new pair of shorts if she did. She did not make good on her threat.
  • Feet=Quiet on the floor: I can't do that one, either. I rock my feet, jiggle a leg, or sit on my feet. Or I W-sit. Yeah, I'm a W-sitter. Yes, I still do it. No, I don't have problems from it. People never made a fuss about that one. I didn't even know it was "bad" until one day in speech therapy when the therapist made comment on it. (I had trouble with the "r" sound for a long time. Actually, I still do. I just learned how to make the Chinese "r" sound and no one notices the difference so I use it all the time.)
  • Body=Faces the speaker: I can do it, but I don't understand the point. This one wouldn't be a direct contribution to failure, though, since, you know, can do it.
  • Brain=Thinking about what is being said: Ok, yeah, that's a thing. I can do it. One problem: There is no way for an educator to check if this is the case.[No, really. Testing me later with something written tests memory, putting me on the spot tests languaging on demand, there is no test that only checks if you were thinking about it at the time and can't be spoofed by thinking about it later]
  • Heart=Caring about what the other person is saying: MY HEART DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THINGS. My brain does. I will now proceed to be distracted by this issue because I am autistic and technicalities like that bother me. Whoops. Also, it has the same issue as brain.
That's eight body parts we're talking about. Three (ears, brain, heart) aren't actually checkable by educators. One I can do, but it 100% irrelevant for me (body.) One I can do, but it is easier not to and I listen better when not worrying about it (eyes.) Two are completely impossible for me to accomplish (hands, feet.) Even without having to worry about listening as well, I can't do them. And one, only one (mouth) is actually a useful thing that people can check for.

We've got eight bullet points, only one of which is a thing you can check that is important for my ability to listen, so this isn't exactly the epitome of helpfulness. And three of the things are actively bad, are things where if they were to be part of what I get evaluated on, I would fail. You thought I was exaggerating when I said I would fail special needs kindergarten? If I couldn't use my articulateness to type my way out of it, that would be exactly what happened.

1 comment:

  1. Jeepers... when I read that chart it seems like they want the kid to be comatose! They're kindergarteners for pete's sake! The lengths adults will go to have no "distractions" isnt good for ANY kid, of any nuerodiversity. Sad.