On August 11, 2012, Facing Autism Together Everyday (FATE) held a meeting at Just Jump for Kids in Douglas, G.A. Just Jump for Kids is a great place that has four big blow-up slides and jump houses for children to play on. The meeting was the first announcement to FATE members about the merger with Sensory Friendly Learning.
Mrs. Jeannie Bolstridge brought Catriona, her granddaughter with ADHD, and Kiley, an autistic girl, while I brought my brother Garth.
When Mrs. Bolstridge had asked Kiley’s mother whether or not she could bring Kiley as well, she had said that it was fine but that she didn’t think that we would ever get Kiley in an enclosed space. She thought that we would be there five minutes ad have to leave.
Mrs. Bolstridge told me about this a few days before the meeting and has asked me what I thought about it. I told her that I would watch Kiley. I knew I wouldn’t have to keep an eye on Garth, that was the second time he had been there, so I knew he would be no problem. He could just play and I could focus on trying to get Kiley on the blow-up things. I was determined that if I could get her on one, she would love it.
So, when we got to Just Jump for Kids, I said hello to everyone there and let Kiley look around before trying to get her on the smallest blow-up.
This one was for really young children. It has an opening in the front that you used to enter and exit. The opening had a net hanging down on the inside of it, which you just pushed through when you entered, but you had to pick up when leaving.
Inside, it had a horse inside that you could sit on, not all the way or you would crush it, but you could sit on it slightly. It had a little Native American teepee with a tunnel at the bottom that the children could crawl through. There was a dog sitting down for the children to pet and there was a slide in the back.
It did take some time before Kiley would get in. I took off my shoes and crawled in first, hoping that by seeing me in there it would help her fear. I laid down inside so that she could see my head through the hole and stuck my hand out. “Come on, Kiley. It’s okay,” I said again and again.
She would take a step toward me then whine and step back. This continued several times but she was a little bit closer each time. Finally, she took my hand and crawled in with me.
Mrs. Bolstridge, Bobbie, and I were so happy that she had a good time. We took lots of pictures of her. I took my camera out and just sat down inside the thing and took pictures for Mrs. Libby. I took a few videos too.
I was so proud of how Kiley reacted when another child climbed in.
At school, Kiley is considered “violent” because if something throws her off and she has a tantrum and no one tries to do anything to help her, she will hit whoever is closest to her. Now, that’s if no one helps her. I have seen her hit a few times, she even hit me one time, but it wasn’t hard enough to hurt. During tutoring, if she starts screaming, all we have to do is say nine words to her she always stops screaming: “Do you want to go sit in the truck?”
If you say this to her, she always stops, it may be for five minutes or five seconds, but she will say “No!” and calm down.
Anyway, when the little boy, maybe only three or four, climbed on I watched Kiley to see whether or not she would strike at him. She had never been on one of those bounce thing before, so I was worried she would get upset if someone she didn’t know got on.
But Kiley never even tried to do anything. She stared at him long enough to make me worry that she would react, but this so-called “violent” little girl just carried on jumping like she had been doing. I was so proud of her.
The meeting at Just Jump for Kids had begun at 8:30 A.M. and Kiley lasted all the way to noon (over three hours) before it became too much and she had sensory overload, so Mrs. B. took her home.
I could not wait to get the pictures and videos I had taken of Kiley to her mom. I knew she would be so surprised to hear about how I had actually got Kiley onto one of the blow-ups since it was an “enclosed space.”
This just goes to show that just because an autistic child is labeled as “violent” in school does not mean that they really are that way. Kiley was in an unfamiliar environment and in a confined space, which she has a hard time with, and she never once tried to hit anyone.
At one point, I had tried getting off of blow-up secretly to see how Kiley would react to being on there by herself. The first time I did it, she followed me out once she saw me standing outside . However, the second time, she was fine being in there by herself, which allowed me to take a picture of her.