The Autism/ADHD Coke Bottle Effect

The Autism/ADHD Coke Bottle Effect

I recently attended an autism awareness course and thought that this story was a great explanation of what masking/holding it all in whilst in school may be like. This is relevant for both autism and a.d.h.d although some triggers may vary with both from child to child with the COKE BOTTLE EFFECT…..

( Every time the child feels and holds in that stress shake the bottle accordingly)

Meet Max, Y5 pupil at Joe Average Primary.

This morning, Max had to come a different way to school ‘ cause they were digging up the road.

Because the road was closed, by the time they’d gone round the diversion, Max was late for school.

Max hates being late. He hates to walk into class when all the other children are milling about. So he waits in the cloakroom until they’ve all gone in. Mrs White said it’s ok for him to do that.

When Max steps into class, Mrs White isn’t there. There’s a stranger standing at the front with the Head teacher. Mrs White has gone on a course today and they have a substitute teacher Mrs Grey. But Max doesn’t know this because he came in late. He sits down when the Head teacher tells him to, and wonders when Mrs White will be in.

Mrs Grey announces that the class spelling test will be first. Max has been trying really hard with his spellings. He has practised them at home. Mrs Grey starts to read them out, but they’re not in the right order. Max can feel a knot in his stomach and writes out the spelling test he has learnt in the right order. Two out of ten and told he will have to try harder. He didn’t even get a smiley face and Max likes stickers.

At break time, Max goes out into the playground. He’s got an apple for snack, but as he is eating it, a girl playing chase bumps into him and it drops on the floor. One of the boys shouts “football” and kicks it across the playground… It ends up in a puddle and Max goes to get it and gets his feet wet. He hates being wet, so he goes back into class and takes his shoes and socks off.

Mrs Grey almost trips over Max, who is sitting right in the doorway of the classroom. She tells Max to either put his wet things back on or to put his pumps on. He tells Mrs Grey that it is not P.E yet it’s literacy next.

Mrs Grey glares at Max and suggests that perhaps Max would prefer to sit outside the Head’s office. Max is quite relieved about this; it’s nice and quiet in the corridor. He puts his pumps on but they don’t feel right without socks, and all he can think about is how scratchy they are on his feet.

On the way out of the classroom, he sees the girl that bumped into him in the playground. He pushes her back and she tells the teacher that he pushed her for no reason. Mrs Grey walks over to Max. She’s wearing really strong perfume and he wants to wretch. When she asks him why he is pulling faces, he says it’s because she smells. Mrs Grey marches Max down the corridor and tells the Head that Max is being naughty and very rude. Max tells her she is lying. The Head tells Max to sit there until he feels he can behave.

After half an hour outside the Head’s office, Max is feeling much calmer so he decides to go back to his classroom. Still no Mrs White. He looks round to see what he is supposed to do and sees some boys spinning their pens so he goes and watches them cause it looks interesting.

When the bell goes for lunch, Max puts his hands over his ears and runs to the classroom door to be first. Mrs Grey tells him off for pushing and makes him wait at the end of the queue. When he goes to get his lunchbox he can’t find it, it’s not with his coat where he left it.

When the Mid-day Assistant manages to calm him down, she arranges for him to have a school dinner instead. He has to sit on a different table in the hall and the smell of other peoples dinners makes him feel ill. He looks down and notices that the beans are touching the potatoes so he can’t eat that now. Dry food shouldn’t touch wet foods. Everyone is talking and the noise of cutlery and scraping of chairs is overwhelming even the playground is better than this.

Max goes back to the cloak room and lies on the floor with his coat over his head. The floor is nice and cool and he starts to feel calmer. He makes the Mid-day Assistant jump when she walks past him, and she chastices him saying ” you scared me to death Max!” Max is really worried about this because he really likes her and doesn’t want her to die, but she carries on walking as though she was ok. He follows her round the playground just to make sure.

After lunch Mrs Grey tells the class to get into pairs. Max sits on a table with two other children, and they’ve already paired up. He doesn’t know what to do… Mrs Grey asks for anyone who’s not sitting with someone to put up their hand. Max doesn’t realise she’s talking to him – he’s sitting with two people, so he doesn’t put his hand up… When Mrs Grey raises her voice and asks why he wasn’t paying attention, it all becomes a bit of a blur…and Max has no idea why he is being told off again. He wonders if it is because he made the Mid-day Assistant die. He really can’t remember what happens after that…..

The bell goes at the end of the day, and Max goes out to find his Mum.

(Have you been shaking that coke bottle throughout this story)

” Did you have a good day at school Max?” asks his Mum.

Who takes the lid off? Usually Mum/Dad!

Author: XGemx

13 thoughts on “The Autism/ADHD Coke Bottle Effect

  1. This is a really insightful piece. To increase its value even further, it would be good to publish a part 2 which is the same story but accompanied with advice to show what preventative/mitigating actions could have been taken for each of the problematic situations described for Max.

  2. I have often felt like this. I am a mature adult who is a teacher and who feels that they have had and still have ADHD. I can empathise with this.

    1. John my daughter finally got diagnosed at 21.
      Three years on she going into her second year of a combined masters!
      It was not an easy road and she learnt to be a whole new person, but she is happy which is the most important thing.

    2. I was diagnosed with ASD at 40 – after being branded as “different” or “special” all my life but never really wanting to believe it. I can relate to these stories so well and it has been a complete relief to now know that my brain really does just work a little differently. Whatever your age I would highly recommend seeking advice, it is never too late to understand your own coping mechanisms and how different situations affect you.

  3. I’ve worked with autistic/adhd children in secondary main stream for years and this story explains things so clearly. I am now retired.They need that stability and routine, every change for them is a nightmare and for their parents when they get home, because they cannot express the emotions they want too or even understand how too. My own grandson has become a victim, with staff NOT trained to understand. He has not been to school for 3 years because they do not understand his behaviour. ‘ I only told him to do something.’ Why can’t he do the same as everyone else.’

  4. But also this is the experience of lots of children whether autistic or not they have to deal with these things that all children find challenging

      1. I don’t think the last reply was minimising what happens. Having had 2 children of my own successfully go through the system 25 years ago and now grandchildren, one with undiagnosed possible autism, dyslexia and adhd and another not findin it easy, I realise how many obstacles there are now to normal learning, as teachers become stretched, statements are hard to get, classroom assistants change more often curriculums, testings and environments are not set up by those with empathy. I believe we maybe failing as many as 50 % with our present school system too rigid and stuck in the 20th century, too little funding, and both parents working long hours and other factors. My grandson has been home schooled for his teenage years ….

  5. As someone with two children with ASD, (not that I feel I have to qualify for you Denise), and working in the school system, I agree with Bob. This piece explains beautifully what it can be like for a lot of children. That’s not minimising but expanding.

  6. I lost the plot once when the head teacher at my son’s school told me that she was sure that, given the choice, I would rather he was perfectly behaved at school than at home. Yes, she really did, and my son has PDA. To this day, at the age of 20, he can still have meltdowns. And at 6′ 7″, they can be pretty scary.

    If only she could have read this. She might have understood. And she might have been able to avoid him being expelled from his second mainstream school by the time he was 8.

  7. It’s a brilliant insight into how mixed up and hard it is for the child and others..
    So true to how they are

  8. I’ve always described my son as this and been battling for last 5 yrs to get him help and everyone has just thrown it a side like an empty bottle

  9. i have just read the most inspiring words describing two of my grand kids,I thought i knew them pretty well,i have tried to read all the information i can find and read what my daughter reads,but god i never actually realised what they go through on a daily basis and yet they are so happy and make me feel so proud how they get on with there lives and put me to shame when i say ,I dont feel to good today (man Flu ).i wish i could switch a switchand make every right ,but i cant so i will go on loving them both as thats all i can do , i wish everybody in the world could read this.Good night lads we love you all xxxxx

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