Found Out Water Been Saying

, , , , , | Learning | December 19, 2018

(I am a substitute teacher. I am working as a teacher’s assistant with a classroom of students who have high-functioning autism, grades three to five. We go outside for recess. I’m standing with one of the other teacher’s assistants by the fence when a boy approaches us.)

Teacher’s Assistant: “Oh, boy, here comes [Student]. He always tries to get us to let him climb the fence. When we tell him no, he’ll start cursing in another language.”

Student: “May I please go climb the fence? I want to climb the fence.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “No, [Student], you are not allowed to climb the fence.”

Student: *starts speaking in a foreign language, making angry gestures*

Me: *calmly replies in the same language*

(The student and TA both stare at me before the student flees. The TA is astonished.)

Teacher’s Assistant: “What? You can understand him?! What was he saying?!”

Me: “Oh, that was Farsi. I learned basic conversational words and commands when I was deployed. Also, I think he hears the language at home but doesn’t understand it, because he just keeps saying, ‘I want to drink water,’ over and over again.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “But what did you say to him?”

Me: “I asked if he wanted a cup.”

(The student came and left by a special daycare van, and the parents never came to the school, so we don’t know the full story. But I’m told by the Teacher’s Assistant that whenever he tries to pull that stunt, someone calmly walks him over to the water fountain. I’ve been back a few times, and when he sees me, the student runs away.)

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