Question. Why would you put a snow-white, long-sleeved, brand-spanking-new shirt on your second-grader with autism and then send him into the den of ketchup, chalk crayons, and nose blood that is a special education classroom in springtime?
I have been following this child around all morning with a Shout wipe. Because, here's the thing about second-graders (with or without autism):
1. They are natural magnets for ketchup, markers, mustard, chalk crayons, and the grubby little hands of their classmates.
2. Their noses sometimes bleed during allergy season.
3. They can't stand to have spots on their clothing.
"This is my new shirt." That's the mantra of the day.
"Sweetie," I tell him, "Don't rub at it. Let me get the Shout wipes."
"This is -- this is my new shirt." Followed by a nervous giggle. Which tends to be followed by a mega-meltdown.
Quickly, I drop the third-grade spelling list and swoop in with the Shout wipe. Disaster is averted. For the moment.
I turn back to the third-graders and resume their spelling test. "Setting. The setting of my story is in rural West Virginia in the present day. Setting."
Just as my third-graders, without exception, write S-I-T-T-I-N-G on their papers, I hear a very nervous giggle behind me. I turn to find my second-grader surrounded by markers with no lids. He is a rainbow in shades of green -- lime, forest, kelly. He looks perhaps like he was pleased with himself for a moment. But then it sinks in and the giggle pops out.
"This is -- this is my new shirt."
I am out of Shout wipes. We teeter on the brink of crisis.
"This is my new shirt, too," I lie, tugging at my own worn old green school shirt. "See? We match."
The giggle fades. A true smile blooms.
"We match. We must be best buddies."
Crisis averted. At least until his parents see what's become of his brand-new shirt!