March 12, 2009 by Marj Hatzell
Once upon a time, there was a Princess Queen and Prince Darling and they lived happily ever after. Well, I mean, eventually they will live happily ever after, but for now they are happily. The Queen and Prince Darling have two beautiful little princes who rule the Kingdom of Autism.
Prince Bug Boy and Prince Bugaboo were fair and wise Princes. In Autism Land, they gave everyone super powers. All residents of Autism Land can hear better, see better, smell better and feel more strongly than anyone that has ever lived. The Princes also decided that the Autistics should be better at electronics, video games and computers than anyone else. And, for an added bonus, Prince Bugaboo made sure everyone was an expert locksmith and could do human slinky routines up and down stairs and on counter tops and knee walls. It was a happy, happy place. The Princes were happy. The Queen and Prince were happy. Everyone was happy.
But not really.
See, Prince Bug Boy went to the Kingdom of School. He was learning tons, was pretty much the smartest kid in class, but had a tough time fitting in. He had to go to the Kingdom of School in the Land of Popular. The Populars just did not understand the Autistics. See, the Autistics spoke a different language. They didn’t look at Popular faces and they didn’t know how to socialize with the populars. In fact, the Autistics wanted badly to fit in with the Populars, so badly that Prince Bug Boy begged the Queen and Prince Charming for UB Funkys and Bakugan and Pokemon and Crocs and other stuff that the Populars had. The Queen and Prince Charming sometimes indulged but quickly realized that no toy or article of clothing or book or hat was ever going to make the social situation better. The Autistics were different than the Populars and it was going to take much, much more to fit in.
They tried Sports. They tried Boy Scouts. They tried classes. And still, the populars didn’t really want to play with the Autistics. In school, the populars would form secret clubs and exclude the Autistics, mostly because they didn’t have the fun toys or because they couldn’t run as fast on the playground. And still the Autistics persisted. They wanted to belong. So the Populars would let them in the clubs, only to form new secret clubs.
It all came to a head one day when Prince Bug Boy was feeling especially vulnerable. His ears were hurting and because of his super-hearing-power he was a bit on edge. One of the populars called him mean and said he was mean to everyone. And the playdates dried up. The party invites stopped coming. And then the ultimate happened. One of the Populars called Prince Bugaboo “crazy”. Prince Bug Boy started spiraling down and crashed and burned and melted down for days. So the Queen talked to the Smartest Teacher Ever and they hatched a plan.
Next month is Autism Awareness month. The Queen is going to talk to the class about autism, read some stories and do an activity to help the kids understand and be a little more accepting. She is also going to talk a bit about bullying, since the Autistics are an easy target (a very, very easy target). The teacher even heads up the school-wide Autism project, where each child writes on and decorates a puzzle piece and they do a really neat event. The Queen is amused. She is happy that the Smartest Teacher Ever is so willing to work with the Autistics and the Populars and help them all get along and accept each other. The Queen and the Smartest Teacher Ever know that they will never be best buddies and don’t expect them to be, but they sure would like them to get along just a tad better.