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The Answer Is Elementary

, | Learning | February 23, 2016

(Because of a family emergency I have to take my autistic eight-year-old nephew to school with me for a couple of weeks. He is usually home-schooled. The principal and teachers are okay with it as long as he doesn’t disturb the class. My nephew is very advanced when it comes to science but not good at humanities and human interaction. He usually spends the class reading a book or hanging on me like a koala as he is nervous around strangers. Physics is the first science class since I took him to the school.)

Teacher: “Why is an elementary school kid here?”

Me: “I’m sorry, it’s my nephew. He’s allowed to be here as long as he doesn’t disturb the class. He will read a book in the back of the classroom.”

Teacher: “Umm, okay, no problem.”

(10 minutes later, Classmate #1 is called to solve a problem on the blackboard. She is struggling with it.)

Classmate #2: “Hey, stop it!”

(We turn around to see that my nephew is gripping the leg of Classmate #2’s chair and rocking back and forth, clearly upset by something. I run to him and he hugs me and mumbles to my ear.)

Teacher: “Oh, god, is he okay? What’s wrong?”

Me: “He will be. I think [Classmate #1] is struggling with the problem and [Nephew] knows the problem solution but is doing his best to not to shout it aloud.”

Teacher: “Uff, in that case [Classmate #1] can sit down and we will see what [Nephew] can do.

(He picks up my nephew and holds him up so he can reach the top half of the blackboard. My nephew happily writes the method and the problem solution and goes to hide in my arms. Everyone stares in the shock at the blackboard.)

Teacher: “You want to tell me how that elementary kid solved high school problem?”

Me: “He is autistic. His logical and mathematical thinking is very advanced but the rest isn’t the best. He writes and reads without a problem but he almost doesn’t speak.”

Teacher: “How did you know he would be able to solve it?”

Me: *smiling* “He’s already been reading our physics textbook for three days.”

(My nephew spent the next six weeks following my physics teacher, who dressed him in spare lab coat and took him to every class he taught as his assistant.)

This story is part of our Autism roundup!

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