Friday morning, group 4, just before playtime. Max walks past Marieke’s table and wipes her work on the floor with a smooth movement of the hand. A papier-mâché clock. Marieke worked on it half the morning. Now he is crumpled on the floor. For a moment Marieke sits transfixed in her chair. When she realizes the full extent of the disaster, she begins to cry.
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Sweetest girl in the class
The class looks shocked. I grab Max by the collar and say, “Max, this is very, very naughty. Why did you do that?” “I don’t know,” he says. His pretty face is expressionless. “Did you have a fight with Marieke?” I ask. “No,” he says. I can’t imagine that either. Marieke is pretty much the sweetest girl in the class.
It’s not the first time Max has done something aggressive. He has once hit a classmate and sometimes knocks over a chair if he disagrees. Because he is also big and strong, some children are afraid of him. He doesn’t have it from home. His parents are social and involved, I talked to them a lot about Max. The school therapist suspects that Max has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
“He thought he was a stupid boy”>
He likes competitions
Max recognizes car brands by their tires. When I put cars in front of him, he plays with them all day long. But on his own. His classmates are trying to get around him because he approaches them in the wrong way. It may well be that he likes Marieke with her blond curls and tries to attract her attention in this way. In any case, the latter has succeeded.
Generations of teachers hated boys like Max. When there was still no attention for Asperger’s syndrome, they were often expelled from the classroom. A shame, because if you get there early you can teach Aspergers how to understand emotional signals so they can build friendships. Especially if they are intelligent, and that is Max. Ever since I got him in class, I’ve been practicing social traffic rules with him. He can dream them: don’t hit or push, hurt no one, wait your turn. Ask what game they are in the mood for and then participate. Don’t be upset if you lose. Every time I see him playing sweetly with another child, he gets a sticker. He is very sensitive to that, he likes competitions.
In love with curls
Marieke cries as if she will never stop. I sigh. For the umpteenth time I ask: “What is the best thing to do, Max?” Max thinks for a moment. Then he says, “I know!” He goes to Marieke and says: “Sorry. I will never do it again. I think you are sweet. ” Then he carefully picks up the papier-mâché leaves. He puts them back on Marie’s table and tries to get them back in order. He also gives her an awkward kiss on the cheek. Marieke is so surprised that she stops crying.
After a while she goes to help Max. Suddenly they are doing something together that looks suspiciously like playing. I watch with my mouth open and open my sticker plate. Two for Max, two for Marieke. Max looks happy. Not just because of the stickers. I think it has something to do with Marieke’s curls.
This article has previously appeared in Kek Mama.
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