The boy, Gregory, walked dejectedly down the sidewalk towards home. He walked alone, not by choice, but because he was the different kid, the bullied kid, the kid that no one wanted to hang around. He couldn’t help his differences, but that didn’t matter to the other kids. Even some of the teachers and staff gave him a hard time.
The only thing that made him happy was his comic books. It had started out simply enough. When he was about seven years old, his Dad had been going through a box of stuff and found an old comic book from his childhood. He gave it to Gregory, and that started the collection for him. Gregory now was ten years old, and he had over a hundred comics. Currently, he was saving for a first edition that was still in the plastic wrap. The cost was $200.00 and he now had $75.00 saved.
When Gregory got home, he did the same thing that he did every single day when he got home. He said hello to his Mom, then went to his room. He thumbed carefully through his comics. He wasn’t selecting any to read, just going through them. This calmed him. He then checked his savings, counting out what he had saved so far, then logged down his count. He wasn’t concerned about it, this was just part of his routine. All about routine, that was Gregory. The routine helped to keep him calm. It was a trait of his Asperger’s.
At dinner, Dad told Gregory that he would need some help cleaning the yard over the weekend and Gregory could earn $20.00 if he helped. This interfered with his usual weekend routine, but his therapist had said that sometimes he needed to practice changes in routine because interruptions happen. He agreed to help Dad.
Dad knew that Gregory needed time to process his changes, so he had let Gregory know on Wednesday about the weekend. After dinner, Gregory went to his room and selected a comic to read. He laid on his bed and read comics until bedtime. The next day, just like always, Gregory selected five comics, and placed them in his special folder inside of his backpack. He liked to read his comics at recess and lunch, and the other kids never invited him to play anyway, so it worked out.
Today, however, was different. Several of the kids that always picked on Gregory came up to him at recess and started asking what he was doing, what he was reading, and could they see the comic book. Gregory told them no and continued reading. One boy snatched his comic from his hand, and another snatched his special folder with the remaining comics in it.
Gregory jumped up, looking around for the duty teachers. They were on the other side of the playground, talking and not paying any attention to what was going on. Gregory turned and looked at the boys that had stolen his beloved comics. Normally, Gregory just took the teasing and minded his own business. However, this was not normal teasing. These were his comics. He took off at an extremely awkward run, chasing the boys. The one with the single comic began ripping it apart one page at a time and dropping them to flutter in the wind. Gregory changed his aim and went after the folder. The boys began tossing the folder back and forth, dropping comics on the ground. They then snatched them up before Gregory could get there and ran toward a huge mud puddle. Gregory screamed. He begged. But they just laughed and threw them all in.
When Gregory got home that afternoon, Mom could tell that something other than the normal teasing was bothering him. He didn’t even speak to her when he walked in. She called his name, but he ignored her and proceeded to his room. Mom followed, but hadn’t made it to his room when she heard the sounds of things crashing and breaking. She entered the room, and her normally sweet, quiet son was like a tornado, destroying everything in sight.
When Gregory reached his comic collection, he stopped. He began to cry. Mom sat him on the bed, and sitting next to him she asked what had happened. Gregory explained what had happened, and that now his collection was down by ten books. Mom suggested that he not bring any more comics to school. Gregory pointed out that this was unfair, and while Mom agreed, she still thought it best he not bring any to school.
That night at dinner, Gregory just picked at his food. He eventually told Dad what had happened. Mom explained that she would be going to the school the next day to speak to the principal regarding the situation.
The next morning, Mom drove Gregory to school instead of him walking. They went to the principal’s office and waited to see him. When they were called in, Mom began explaining what happened. The principal did not appear to be very sympathetic, siting that ‘boys will be boys’. He finally agreed that he would speak to the three boys involved, but warned Gregory and his Mom that this might make things worse instead of better.
At recess, Gregory was once again sitting and reading a comic. He had only brought the one out this time. And he had a plan. Sure enough, the three boys came up to him again. He closed his comic as they approached, rolled it up, and placed it carefully in his back pocket, then pulled his shirt down over it and stood up.
As the boys approached, Gregory reminded himself that sometimes routines changed and that this was a part of life. He was muttering to himself ‘it’s a part of life’ over and over as the boys came closer and closer.
The boys started calling him names, such as ‘snitch’, ‘tattle tale’, ‘Mama’s boy’, and some other not so nice names. One of them started sauntering to the side, as if he were going to try and get behind Gregory. Suddenly, Gregory yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Change in routine is a part of life!”
With that exclamation, he bent and charged the lead boy, head butting him in the stomach and knocking him to the ground.
“Leave me the hell alone!” he turned and screamed at the other two boys, who took that advice and hauled ass away from Gregory.
When Gregory got home, he said hello to Mom, and handed her a note from the principal. The principal stated in the note that Gregory was suspended for three days and that both parents must attend a meeting with him before Gregory could come back to school.
After reading the note, Mom went to Gregory’s room to ask what had happened. Gregory told her. Mom and Dad didn’t condone fighting, but they did condone standing up for yourself.
When Dad got home from work, Gregory asked him to take him to the comic book store. He was restless due to the ten missing comic books, and felt that he must replace them. Dad took him, and with his saved money, Gregory did replace his comics. However, this only left him with $50.00 towards that special edition he was saving for. The manager agreed to allow him to place it on lay-away, and they went home.
Mom and Dad talked well into the night, trying to decide what the best course of action would be for Gregory’s situation. He probably should be punished for fighting, but his parents felt that it was more of a self – defense situation. Finally, they came to a decision that they felt was best, and went to sleep.
When the day came to meet with the principal, Mom, Dad, and Gregory went to the school. The principal was definitely not sympathetic at all this time. He wanted Gregory in a special class. He didn’t want him around the ‘regular’ kids at all, he said, because he felt that Gregory didn’t have enough self – control. Mom and Dad informed the principal that this would absolutely not happen, and that they would be home schooling Gregory from now on.
Gregory fell in love with the home schooling. He was able to help set his schedule and routine. He was not being bullied. And his favorite part? Mom was able to base lessons on his comic books and his heroes. Gregory flourished, and as a reward for doing so well, Mom and Dad presented him with that special edition comic he wanted so badly.