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NBC’s Parenthood: Addressing the Needs of ALL Children

There was a lot going on in NBC‘s Parenthood last night! ‘Clear Skies from Here on Out‘ got us thinking about how to handle the needs of both neurotypical children and children with special needs. Here is a quick rundown of the Max synopsis!

Jabbar and Max now go to the same school and they eat lunch together. One day Max is having a great time being quizzed on his timetables, but Jabbar is incredibly bored. Jabbar’s friend Jensen invited him to eat lunch, but Max says no, because they are cousins and best friends, and must eat lunch together everyday.

When Jabbar explains to his mother the situation she tells him he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. He can eat lunch with whomever he chooses.

At school, Jabbar eats lunch as fast as possible, then tells Max he’s going to play with Jensen. Max refuses, and it’s not long before he’s screaming and pushing Jabbar. Max isn’t done eating yet; Jabbar can’t just leave! Finally, Jabbar blurts out that he’s only eating with Max because there’s something wrong with him. Not only do all the other kids hear this, but Max pushes Jabbar to the ground. You can view this clip here.

Needless to say, when Adam, Kristina, Crosby, Jasmine, Max and Jabbar meet with Principal Taylor and the lunch lady who broke up Jabbar and Max’s fight, emotions run high and there is a major argument.

This poses a major question. How do you address the needs of both your special needs children and neurotypical children? It is often a difficult balance and we’d love to hear your strategies.

To watch the full episode, please visit NBC’s website, here.

  1. October 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    We ensure that there is quality family time and create opportunities for relationships to grow, but at school all of our children have different interests and are drawn to different types of peers. When our ASD child was younger we reached out to our schools to help create a ‘lunch bunch’ with kids that might have similar interests and needs. The lunch hour at an elementary age is a great time for kids to get sensory input on swings, climbers and more. There was also a volunteer parent group that helped monitor the playground.

  2. October 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Brought back many memories and tears. I’m not sure how my 3 boys and I got through high school (and elementary school was a nightmare). I remember a time when my middle son (my Aspie) came home and told me about a new girl at school who “threw him out of his lunch group”. He’d been sitting with the same small group of girls for a few years (never got along with boys or most people his own age). This new girl came along and didn’t like that he was sitting there and told him “If you don’t leave this group, I’m going to tell my father that you did something bad to me”. (I didn’t find this out until months after it had happened.) So my son left the only social group he was comfortable with and went and sat by himself next to the garbage cans. He even made sure to tip the few other chairs upside down at that table so that no one else could sit with him or get close to him. I cried when I found this out. When I said that I would go to school and that together we would get this fixed (she was being a horrible bully), he begged me not to, saying that it would only make things worse. He figured out how to cope (and had been coping for months), but I felt like a failure as a parent. He was 17 at the time and had only been diagnosed a year and a half earlier. Now he’s an undergrad at the University at Buffalo, sharing a dorm room with his older brother, and I worry about him every day. So proud of his bravery.

  3. Regina
    October 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t have any answers, just questions. I have two daugters a year apart in Middle School. The older is 14 and has Aspergers, ADHD(inattentive), and OCD. She eats in a classroom instead of the cafeteria because of sound sensitivity and the cruelty of other children. Our younger daughter is 13 and doesn’t think that we are being fair in how we parent them at home because her sister doesn’t appear to get in trouble as much as she does because her sister doesn’t understand some things and is very obedient (due her being “by the books”)Then at school, she has to hear about what her sister does and her sister’s behavior mortifies her at an age when such things are so important already. Any suggestions?

  4. October 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    To SALLY, my heart goes toout your son. Just the fact that he was bullied by a girl who didint have her own identity, and hated the fact that your son hung around girls its obvious that she was jealous, spiteful and hateful towards chidren with disabilities. But the happy part is that your son figured out how to cope with it in his own way. As moms we want to protect our children from everything lol! but that seems to make it worse unfortunately. Know that you did the best that you could, he know that you love him immensely and that you want to know that he will be ok. And as long as God and his brother is around, HE WILL BE ALRIGHT. :)

  5. kevin larkin
    October 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    my son, age 20, doesn’t have any friends. never has. his autism is so severe that most, if not all, kids are frightened of him. so are movie stars who make appearances at certain events we attend together.

    the onus of last night’s show was the guilt that young Jabar felt regarding his cousin. he didnt’ want to exclude him but so needed to gain back his independence.

    the writers were diligent in presenting a packed lunch yard with minimal teacher supervision. we’ve all seen that before. you, too, teachers so don’t get your back up.

    my son has trouble reaching out to this world we live in so is happy to lunch alone. he is, in a sense, on this planet alone. does it hurt? I am past hurt and pain. Numb from thinking how lonely he might or might not be.

    But there was a lesson. The asp. cousin does need to learn about compromise. This child is high enough of the spectrum that he can be taught to share or sometimes not. That didn’t come up last night but I’m sure will.

    They have done an outstanding job in exhibiting all the signs of this boy’s spectrum.

    Who hasn’t suffered through a lonely lunch at school, a new job or alone and not wanting to be.

    We have to teach tolerance and compromise. There is no room for guilt and anger belongs to the ignorant and the self-righteous who can’t get out of their own way.

  6. Jennifer Miller
    October 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I stood up for those who had a hard time standing up for themselves when I was in school. I have talked about respecting everyone no matter what to my oldest, now 14, and in middle school. His brother, only a year behind him in school, has autism. He is very respectful to his brother and helps him with everything, especially the social stuff. He has always included him. His friends saw how he treated someone that was different and they followed. They are all friends and respectful to one another. Sometimes it only takes one person to change the world, he has certainly changed his brother’s world.

  7. Jennifer Miller
    October 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I stood up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves when I was in school. I have always talked to my kids about respecting others no matter what the differences. My oldest is 14 and in middle school, his brother who has autism is only a year behind him. He has always treated his brother with respect and understanding. He is always helping him at school, especially in social situations. Other kids see how he has treated someone that is not typical and they have followed. They are all friends and treat each other with respect and understanding. It only takes one person to change the world and he has certainly changed his younger brother’s.

  8. October 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I agree with Kevin and I have a son that has the autism spectrum on the sevre side. He sometimes is in his own little world and its hard to get him to come out. My son tends to scare other kids but we are fortunate here there are programs for kids like my son that work with them and help them make the most of themselves…

  9. October 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    This Parenthood episode really hit home – it brought back some painful past memories along with some tears. When our children are in our care we can have some control over how circumstances are handled. When our children are in school, they are out there on their own, in social situations where they are at a great disadvantage. It was so sad to see Max in a meltdown due to the circumstances. The emotional and social repercussions can be lasting.
    It is good that Parenthood shows different sides of situations that involve a having child with autism – and shows some of what is involved in parenting these very special children.
    Max has a loving family that will always be there for him, no matter what. I don’t have answers, but I believe that a loving and involved family is the best foundation for our children’s success.

  10. Shanavia
    October 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I personally think that Jabbar should be free to eat lunch with whomever he wants to. It isn’t fair that he should be a bodyguard for Max every day. There has to be another way to satisfy Max’s seating arrangement at lunch. Maybe he could eat with someone he feels secure with, perhaps a teacher, or other administrator. If my little cousin (13 yr. old autistic male) were in that situation and I were not able to eat lunch with him, I would make other arrangements by asking a teacher to sit with him.

  11. Kathy Silverstein
    October 13, 2011 at 2:24 am

    That was a really, really good episode. I was moved nearly to tears. I am a 27 y/o with Asperger’s. I can so relate to Max’s social struggles. His behavior is so familiar and so hauntingly accurate. I sat alone mostly through school, but it didn’t bother me much as until junior high I was just pretty much oblivious to the other kids, and by high school I had gotten a Walkman so just listened to the radio. But there were a group of older girls my freshman year of high school that adopted me for a time, and I always appreciated that.

    And of course routines are very important to kids with AS. The routine was important to Max, as it gave him a sense of safety and security. I was just reading about this issue the other night, about ways to help kids with AS break their routines occasionally.
    (http://www.aspergerssociety.org/articles/05.htm) But at 27, I still like my routines!

    Of course Jabar should be free to do what he wants and not carry this burden. But it doesn’t make it any easier, and Adam should not have gotten mad at Crosby for trying to explain about Max. Jabar needs to learn about individual differences now while he’s young enough for it to really sink in, so he can develop a sense of compassion.

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