Friday, March 16, 2012

Autism and the Circle of Friends

We began by failing our son, TH. We failed to be vigilant enough about his reputation. We were lax in monitoring the growing perception of him as a bully, while simultaneously, he was on the receiving end of bullying all day, every day. His reputation as a bully spread beyond the school walls and playground boundaries, leaking into our neighborhood, speeding through wires and wireless, the talk of the bus stops. His size, his odd behaviors, his loud and unexpected non-sequiturs, and his violations of personal space drove the rumors on. When we learned all of this, we were devastated. Then, we heard about the Circle of Friends (COF) program.The basic principle of this program is that placing knowledge in the hands of others also means giving them understanding and compassion. For us, that meant that somehow, we had to get across to our son’s classmates, and by extension their parents, as much information about our son as possible. We had to reconstruct people’s attitudes about TH, and in this case, because we’d let it go so long, we had to do it across all classrooms in his grade

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