Every day, we ask Frances who she played with at school and usually she says that she didn’t play with anyone.
Recently, she told me that she sat in the corner outside at recess time watching the spinning wheels of a toy truck that she was holding.
While she really enjoys watching things spin, she also had nobody to play with at school.
I think I’m going to have to make a pest of myself again and go down to the school at recess times to make sure that Frances is getting the help that she needs.
Among other things, she has trouble knowing when/if someone is being mean or bossy; she has trouble knowing what’s expected of her in improvised play.
I wrote a letter to her teacher last week but have not heard back.
Surely, they can do better than assuming that she just wants to play by herself?
I know that it’s my job to make sure that Frances knows social rules and to help her make sense of them, but sometimes it is very endearing when she doesn’t remember.
For example, in the car recently, Frances handed her sister some food that she intended to share and then said, “You’re welcome.”
“You have to wait until the person says, ‘Thank you,'” I reminded her.
“Oops. I sometimes get the words confused,” she replied.
She hadn’t said “you’re welcome” sarcastically; the words that she needs in social situations just aren’t always available to her or she confuses words because following the rule hasn’t yet become automatic to her.
At those moments, even though I step in to help, I’m really aware of just how much I appreciate who she is.
I chose to post this panel because it illustrates some important aspects of Frances’s life:
(1) math and numbers — she is very good and very fast at math; it is her favourite subject, and she has great facility with numbers in general;
(2) rules — she is rules-based in her behaviour. Rules are important to her in that she needs to learn them in order to interact with others, but also in the sense that her behaviour is motivated by rules. She often verifies rules in her questions;
(3) questions — it is the means by which she communicates with others, and a fascinating use of language;
(4) danger — when not climbing or bolting, Frances has a keen sense of danger.