While second grade went mostly great for Baby Girl, there were a couple of bumps along the way (as to be expected). One of those bumps involved an elderly substitute teacher.
And I’m sharing this not so much to complain about the sub, but to praise the girl’s classmates.
The girl’s class typically had the same sub each time the teacher was out. The sub was around 80 and a former teacher. She comes from a different time and is very set in her ways, especially where neurodivergent kids like BG are concerned.
Per the girl’s 504 Plan, she is allowed to have fidgets in class. Anything that isn’t disruptive (we learned quickly that her pop tubes are super noisy) is fine. One of her fidgets is mochis. They’re tiny squishes in the shape of animals, 2 inches or smaller in size.
She used them most of the year. She’s very much a sensory seeker, and rubbing something like this is very soothing to her. Having something like this seems to help her regulate and focus a bit better.
Her teacher was fine with them and never had any issues, but the sub was not a fan.
BG came home very upset one day because the sub took her mochi from her. She didn’t give any details beyond that, so I messaged her teacher to ask her to leave a note letting the sub know that she’s allowed to use one the next time.
A month later, I was talking to a mom of another child in the class and she asked how BG did following the incident with the sub taking her fidget. (The same incident, not another one.) I told her I talked to the teacher.
She told me that her daughter was angry when she got home that day over how the sub treated BG.
“She told [BG] that it’s all just an excuse to play with toys in class.” The mom said she also made another comment about how “all that stuff is ridiculous,” which she thought referred to ADHD/autism and “we didn’t have all this when I taught.”
And then the thing I just loved.
The class practically rioted.
Okay, maybe not rioted, but she said her daughter said almost all the kids got upset about how the sub treated BG (and she cried as well) and came to her defense. A bunch of the kids spoke up and told the sub BG needs her fidget to help her focus and that she shouldn’t treat her that way. They also consoled BG. (I later confirmed all this with BG, since she didn’t mention all that.)
Those kids are ages 7 and 8. The compassion and empathy they showed for BG moved me. They took the risk of losing their recess or getting in trouble another way of speaking up against an authority figure to try to help their classmate. And not just one, but most of the kids in her 19-student class, according to the mom. It hit me how these little kids have more understanding that many adults do.
BG mentions how they help her out in other ways, too. They’re very protective of her, and that was evident even in kindergarten. (They’ve had all the same kids in her class each year.) They help her with her headphones during fire drills or other loud situations (and sometimes cover her ears for her). At a recent program, I noticed one one kid was gently guiding BG during some movements in a performance that were complicated for her.
Anytime I talk to other parents, they mention how much their child loves BG. They talk about how she always teaches them cool things (whether it’s about lions, wolves, mythology, or Harry Potter).
As the parent of a child with autism, ADHD, sensory issues, developmental coordination disorder, etc. you wonder how other kids will treat your child. (Well, that’s a concern regardless, but a heightened concern with her anyway.) And in a lot of non-school settings, I’ve noticed how she’s often shunned by other kids. Especially those groups of little girls.
But at this school for the past three years, she has had her little tribe that just loves her, understands her, and embraces who she is.
Next year will be different because some kids are leaving and new ones will take their place, and I hope all goes well. At any rate, her experience has been wonderful so far!