After a week on the job, I’ve already been called names and cursed, yet I’ve also begun building decent relationships. The two, it seems, are not mutually exclusive.
Working with autistic children got me accustomed to the idea that a child can express great joy at working with me one minute and then call me “stupid teacher” the next. Life in the special ed classroom was life on a swing.
The same, it appears, can be true working with “tough kids.” Indeed, the similarities are sometimes overwhelming. The difference is with TKs, I’m left wondering, “Is it a choice conscious or otherwise or is it something automatic?”
As an example, take the ability to generalize. Some autistic individuals have great difficulty taking something out of its context and applying it more generally. “Don’t run in the hall” should be generalized to “Oh, then I probably shouldn’t run in the school in general.” Perhaps not the best example, because younger, non-autistic children might have difficulty making that leap.
The opposite can be the case as well: the ability to realize that a general rule doesn’t apply in a specific circumstance. “Don’t run in the school,” we tell someone then find she was refusing to run during gym class because, after all, we’d said, “Don’t run in school.”
During the first week with the TKs, I realized that this is a popular method of defiance. Extremely popular. “You never said” was one of the most oft-heard phrases during my first week.