DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My daughter, who is in 1st grade, has been complaining since the beginning of the school year about the boy in her class who is autistic and who among other things likes to touch his own and other people’s hair. She finds it “creepy” and has told the teacher about it many times.
When I emailed the teacher about it she replied that this is a not unusual thing for autistic people to do. She said they have been working on helping him change this behavior and that she has spoken individually to students and their parents about this, stressing the boy means no harm, and is always very gentle in how he touches the hair of the other students in his class.
While I understand what’s happening, so far I have not been able to convince my daughter that this is okay. She and her classmates have been taught since preschool to keep their hands to themselves, and she thinks all her classmates should be required to do this too.
What more can I do to help my daughter make peace with her classmate’s behavior? --- SHE’S NOT AT EASE
DEAR SHE’S NOT AT EASE: It may be worthwhile to find some books and videos you can share with your daughter about people on the autism spectrum.
Also, an in person meeting at school with you, your child, and her teacher and/or guidance counselor might potentially help your daughter feel less confused and frustrated by her classmate’s actions.
Because inclusion is the reality in many school districts, it’s likely your daughter will encounter other children who have special needs throughout her academic career and beyond.
Having a sense of understanding and compassion for those who are different than most of the other people she knows will hopefully help your daughter be a better classmate to all.