Autism and the dreaded substitute teacher


Change in routine is probably the hardest thing for children with Autism. We found out this week that Mateo’s long term sub was no longer his subsitute while his teacher is out on maternity leave. Mateo had built a really great relationship with his previous sub. She had been there since his teacher left last year and he definitely had a connection with her.

I think she let him get away with too much. Mateo has that effect on people, he can charm him with his big brown eyes and sideways smile. He never came home with a consequence on his sheet or even one negative comment. She always told me what a joy Mateo was to have in her class.

So when Mateo refused to go to school today. When he sank to the floor in tears begging us not to go. I knew the underlying cause. Sure he would prefer to play Minecraft or his latest craze Five Nights at Freddy’s, but there was more to the story.

His body went limp as he sobbed that he was sick and couldn’t go to school. Trying to pry him off the ground is much harder as he gets bigger, but the deep pressure hugs still seem to do the trick to calm him down. But there was no easy way to calm him down this morning.

It was one of those, man Autism really sucks moments. I know many people may say that their kids complain about going to school, that they will whine or possibly cry about it. But for Mateo the thought of school sent him into a downward spiral. The familiar smiling face wouldn’t be there to greet him. His sub may not know his signs of when he needs help, or know to give him a little more time to gather his thoughts. She may not know what stemming is. She may not understand why he doesn’t look at her when he talks to her. Maybe she hasn’t read his folder and doesn’t know he has Autism. Will it even be the same sub as yesterday?

I am grateful that his Special Needs Educator has been checking on him and giving me updates. She said she’s noticed he doesn’t say hi or smile at her when she passes him in the hallway like he used to. I told her that Mateo will show his stress in different ways. Signs like that mean something is wrong.

We are all hoping they find a good replacement soon until his teacher returns. Until then…. there may be many more mornings like today!

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One Response to Autism and the dreaded substitute teacher

  1. I’m so sorry to hear it was such a difficult morning. I hope that the regular teacher is back soon or they find a long term replacement. I have had to suffer through a couple of those types of mornings myself and it is never easy. I will keep you both in my prayers.

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