What a world this would be if everybody played nice! In fact, that seems to be the most important thing that is needed when considering school placement for my son. Does everybody play nice? This does not apply to the kids alone. Sure, a bully-free zone is optimal and is my biggest hope for his educational experiences. Still, there also needs to be a certain playing nice with teachers, administrators, staff, etc. When considering my partners on the journey with Autism, those who interact with me and my son, are often included in that partnership. As a parent, I always want to play nice as the usual mode of operation for building my team. What does that mean, exactly? For example, going into an IEP meeting with juice and donuts is an unexpected morning treat that often starts the meeting on a good note. Sugar has a way of doing that to a person. Also, when interacting with most service providers (e.g. Speech, OT, Regional Center, etc.) you gain the best outcomes when your number one objective is to find solutions, all while maintaining positive relations. Basically, playing nice professionally! When you choose to interact with a positive attitude, it can become infectious. Even disagreement can end on a good note, when you play nice.
Now, of course, there will be those who just will not play nice, no matter how kind, patient, or pleasant you are. What do you do then? In those moments, what has worked for me is (first, several deep breaths help to get oxygen to your brain and calm you down before reaching over the table and…) pause. Back to playing nice… So, in those moments, after getting oxygen to the brain, take a look at the person. Really look at them. See if you can pinpoint the insecurity that is pushing them to be a bully. Even if you make it up, recognize that this person who is being mean is hiding behind this mean-ness for some reason that has absolutely nothing to do with you. For example, I was in the store with my son when he was only saying a few words and one of them was “Mom.” Sounds great right? Wrong. He would like the way it sounded and would just say it over and over, without wanting anything from me. He just liked hearing the word. So, knowing this, I would not respond, especially when I knew he was on repeat. Well, a kind (sarcastic) onlooker in the store decided that she needed to tell me that I was not a very good parent. I took a breath, actually froze, because I could not believe she was talking to me. She confirmed that indeed, she was talking to me. My response, “Someone must have hurt you as a child.” I realized that her annoyance at my son’s repeating my name did not have anything to do with me, but something to do with her experiences. Once I realized that, I could continue on with my day, son on repeat, and keep shopping.
So, the moral of this story is, play nice whenever possible, it helps to build your team. If you can’t play nice, get oxygen to your brain. It will help you to wisely choose your next move.