Jan. 21st, 2010

lizzybennet: (Default)
Most of you are probably aware of the current Disney's promotion, "Give a Day, Get a Day." My kids really wanted to do it, so I went to the website and looked around for service opportunities that they could do that would count towards the free ticket. The only one they were eligible for, due to their young ages, was to volunteer at a school for autistic children for play time--to give the students at the school typical peer play. We went yesterday for our play time.

I think I must have romanticized it in my mind, that the kids at this school would be more like Asperger's kids. These were severely handicapped children and quite honestly, I think it was all a bit too real for my kids. After we left, Josh said, "That was not worth a free Disney ticket." and the other two kids heartily agreed.

The actual play time went really well. They played a board game with a 10-year old boy. The teacher-student ratio is really awesome, one on one. They have six kids and six students. If I had a child with severe autism, I would love for him or her to be in such a place. Basically, the students were very touchy-feely with my own kids. One of them took Petey's hand and used it to repeatedly pat his own chest. Sometimes the students would randomly try to sit on my kids' laps. Another one came up behind Zack and tried to lick his neck. I put my hand on his chest to stop him but he kept pushing harder and harder to get to Zack. This was a really large kid, too. We went back and forth like that about three times, with me preventing him from licking Zack until he finally got frustrated and grabbed ahold of Zack's hair with both his hands. At that point, the teacher came back into the room and interceded..."Oh, I should not have left you alone with him. I'm sorry!" Really, you think? There were several other incidents like that.

But, the sweetest, best part of the day was the little girl. They only have one girl (autism is statistically skewed towards boys). She sat on my lap during circle time and wrapped my arms tight around her. She was a tiny little thing. As the songs played and we did the hand motions, she rested her hands slightly on mine; it was like a hand dance--both our hands in sync doing the same movements but barely touching.

I'm not sorry we went. I know it was a lot for the kids to take in, but that's real life. They don't see students like this in their own school and it good for them to know that such conditions exist. Besides, free Disney tickets, right?


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