Q. Why did you decide to use this presentation?
A. My son was having a hard time being accepted by his peers in school. The children didn't understand why he talked so loud, spoke formally and acted like he would rather be alone than in a group. In 4th grade he was becoming more aware that his classmates viewed him differently. There was more teasing, name calling and problems on the playground and he was becoming more isolated. It started to take a toll on his self confidence. We learned about the Kids Need to Know presentation and really liked the easy-to-follow format and the way it involved the audience. Like most parents, we want our son to live a positive, happy and healthy life and are willing to try new things when he struggles.
Q. What happened after the presentation?
A. The Kids Need to Know presentation made a huge difference in our son's life. His classmates were very receptive to learning about Aspergers and in particular about our son. They loved answering our questions and talking about their own struggles and successes throughout the presentation. After presenting to two 4th grade classes the kids were happy to include our son and treat him with kindness. Now when he it is at school they say hi and make sure he says hi back. They cheerfully help him with his social skills and include him on playground games. He told us "The presentation must have worked because everyone is a lot nicer and seem to understand me now." We will definitely continue to use the Kids Need to Know presentation at the beginning of each school year!
Q. How do you think the presentation impacts your child and his classmates?
A. The presentation affects many people... the parents of the child with Asperger's, the parents of the classmates, classmates, the teachers, principals and staff of the school. One of the greatest impacts for our son is that when the classmates are informed they better understand why he might act differently than they do sometimes. His behavior makes more sense to them and they no longer come from a place of not understanding, confusion and fear. They get it and are willing to seek to understand him, help him if he needs it, be more patient and be willing to cut him a break.
The reaction we have had from his classmates is remarkable. It is a huge "ah-ha" moment for them. Suddenly they understand why he may sometimes act or speak differently than they do. Knowledge and being informed is the key. It is amazing to see the transformation that happens with these kids when we speak to them and inform them what Asperger's is and how it affects our son. One of the most inspiring things that happens is when you let the kids know everyone has something going on and everyone could use some help once in awhile. Then the outpouring of their own struggles happens. A spontaneous gushing of what is going on for them, personally, what their struggles are, what their siblings struggles are, what their parents struggles are, they all want to be listened to, to be understood better, to be accepted for who they are. You should see the teachers faces when these kids pour their hearts out, when they realize it is OK to be vulnerable, to have weaknesses and how empowered they feel when they are given some tools and understanding about how to embrace our son and accept him for who he is.
Q. Would you recommend that other parents do this for their children? If so, why?
A. My question would be why haven't you done it for your child, yourself and everyone who your child has a relationship with? Asperger's is a journey, just like life, it is just another part of life, your child's life and your life. If you have reached the part of the Asperger's journey where your child is self aware and you have faced the scary realities, mourned what seemed like a loss, become angry that your wonderful child is being picked on, realized this is the hand dealt to you, the hand dealt to your child, and you are ready to take control rather than be controlled by ignorance, fear and misunderstanding.
If you are ready to step through the fear, willing to do everything you can for your beautiful deserving child and have the conviction that I am not going to try to protect my child from the world but prepare him for the world and in turn clear the road for him. If you know that you will do whatever it takes to make it happen, this presentation is one of the keys to opening the doors for your child, yourself and everyone who is lucky enough to have him in their lives. I can say with all my heart delivering this message has been transformational for my son, my wife and myself. If you are a parent of a child with Asperger's, you owe it to your child and to yourself to use this presentation and begin redefining the world you live in.