Booger 101 – A Letter to my Autistic Child’s Teacher

After sending my son’s teacher an email warning detailing his behaviors, I re-read it and realized I made my son sound like a monster. I am now taking bets to see if/when she resigns. I give her two weeks.

Here’s a snippet of what I sent—only slightly exaggerated. Enjoy

Dear First-Year Teacher:

Welcome! I am Booger’s mother.* I’ve attached a twenty-page textbook about my son to help you understand his behaviors/triggers. But, I wanted to give you a crash course in Booger 101.

Here is a Top Eleven list—because ten is an even number and, according to my son, even numbers are evil:

  1. He bites—himself and other people.**Things that set him off:
    a. Being told “No,”
    b. Being frustrated, and
    c. Being in pain.

    Try to avoid these things. Oh, and DON’T leave a cupboard door open–EVER!

  2. Booger suffers constipation. Please keep track of his BMs to let me know how often he goes—and what consistency. You can put a check box system on the page you send home:POOPED?  [__] Yes [__] No

    [__]normal [__] loose [__] pellets [__] weird color

    Feel free to text time-stamped pictures if that is easier.


    Poop Selfie
    What would you call a Poop Selfie? A Poopie?


  3. If you could ensure that Booger gets at least 1 full glass of water—with a straw—this will help with #2. (And by that I mean on the list…but also…oh, I’m sure you get it.)
  4. He is a teenager.*** He has become a leader of The Resistance Movement and is plotting to overthrow your authority. Outright demands for his compliance are ill-advised. Instead of saying, “No,” trying phrasing things as First/Then statements.For example:

    FIRST, we read The Happy Chipmunk Meets Mr. Grumpy Badger and THEN, at 10:00, you can dismember your crayons.
    Booger: “No.” [throws tantrum despite parent’s excellent advice on classroom management]
  5. Booger hates reading. He destroys books. Actually, he destroys anything he can get his hands on—especially electronic devices. CDs were a common casualty in his previous school. He once bit a watch off a classroom aide’s wrist. He will reprogram your cell phone into Chinese. He will throw his iPad. He is a digital serial killer. You have been warned.
  6. Treat each situation like you are a hostage negotiator—his list of demands must be met, at least partway, or someone will pay. If you promise a treat, you’d better deliver. Deduct minutes from an activity, but don’t remove it altogether. Hell hath no fury like an autistic child denied his calendars or markers. Obviously, he can’t do everything he wants all the time, but give him a small amount of control over it.Example of Hostile Negotiations:

    Teacher: “The markers have to go away soon. Do you need one more minute to finish?”
    Booger: “Twenty Minutes.”

    [Let the bargaining commence!]

    Teacher: “Two minutes!”
    “Fifteen minutes”
    Teacher: “Three minutes.”

    Booger: “Ten minutes”
    Teacher: “Four minutes.”
    Booger: “Seven minutes.”
    Teacher: “Five minutes, and that’s my final offer.”
    Booger: “Yes! Fifteen minutes!”

    …until you get to an agreed point. Then show him the stop time on the clock or set a timer. (Warning: He loves timers. He loves them to death.)

  7. Booger is mostly non-verbal, but does have a certain way with words. If you ever see him write “Dick” and “Elevator” don’t panic! He is asking to be driven to the mall to ride the elevator at Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
  8. Booger may have migraines. There is no way to prove this, but, this is what it looks like if it happens: [279 words redacted. Imagine a painfully detailed description of a typical autistic meltdown…but with an added soupcon of drama, tears, and refusal of favored item.]If you think he is having a migraine, then you can give him the following meds. First…[An additional 104 words redacted outlining medical options for treatment of potentially imaginary illness. Can you say “Munchausen’s by Proxy? I knew you could!]


    WARNING!!: The following sentence actually appeared in my letter to my son’s teacher…I was about 1,200 words in at this point:

    I’m afraid it is hard to sum up my child in easy-to-read notes.

    I’m fairly sure that sound you are hearing is his teacher laughing hysterically…or crying…I can’t be sure at this distance.

  9. No, Booger cannot have pizza every day for lunch.
  10. Booger is devious. He is plotting behind your back and will get to a forbidden item or desired objective. He will take advantage of distraction to reach his evil goal. Do not trust him…especially when he is at his best behavior.I know I sound paranoid, but I know my demon seed child and all he wants is to fulfill his master plan–whatever it is. You may have forgotten the thing you took away from him last week and put in a safe. He has not. He will deliberately distract you by being good for a while, and then, when you are occupied, he’ll go for what he wants. Respect his subversive intelligence or pay the consequences.
  11. Lastly, Booger is the reincarnation of Harry Houdini. He (Booger, not Houdini, although, actually Houdini too, hence the comparison…) has a history of eloping and getting very far away very fast. Unless you have someone dedicated to him as a one-on-one guide, he will escape.

I hope this wasn’t the panic-inducing-epistle overwhelming info dump it feels like. But, I’d rather you were ready for Booger’s psychotic curious nature than unprepared. Forewarned is forearmed. But four-armed would be better.

Please try to see the best in him. He is a great kid and he doesn’t really want to act the way he does. If you have any questions after reading the attached tome, please call me. We can always do shots talk more about a behavior plan.


Booger’s Mom

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Name changed because, honestly, I call him ‘Booger’ so much, he probably thinks it is his real name. (Don’t worry, I call him ‘Booger Sugar’ when I’m being especially affectionate. He is ‘Snot-nosed, Booger Boy’ when I’m not.)

**Honestly, the teacher learned about biting the first day when she tried to take markers away from him. Some lessons are best learned first hand! (With teeth mark tattoos for the rest of the year as a reminder.)

***Really, I could have just stopped at ‘Teenager’ but I felt compelled to explain what that looked like for three more paragraphs. Be grateful I redact for my blog.

41 thoughts on “Booger 101 – A Letter to my Autistic Child’s Teacher

  1. 😦 I want a magic wand for Booger and you and the teacher. I found it hard enough to teach my niece (severe ADHD) in summers to catch her up to her class at school. I basically had to trick her into learning, but… Oh Booger, do your best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you are feeling like being a volunteer aide in my son’s classroom, I would buy you under armor (and I mean the chain-link kind…not the company brand name spelled with an extra ‘u’: UnderArmour)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yowza. I don’t think I’d have turned up for Day 1 – but good teachers are special breed (and endangered, so I hope your son doesn’t break this one). Reading this, I was half chuckling and half wondering … how much is “slightly exaggerated”? 2%? 5%? 25%?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I had e-mails like this from my students’ parents. Seriously.
    1. The fact that you care enough to detail all of this and not make the teacher find out that he bites the hard way
    2. The advice is helpful – anyone is foolish if they don’t take a child’s parents’ advice into consideration – even if they want to try something different, parents know the child best.
    3. The humor on top makes it even better.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Now that I’ve composed myself after laughing, and said a wee prayer to the deities who might have influence in the classroom, I will share a wee bit of the Booger in me:

    I, too, have a “thing” for odd numbers. Back in grade school, grade 5, so I was eleven, maybe? and God only knows why, but the teacher taught us about the importance of odd numbers vs even, when arranging flowers. I was mystified even then: we are learning floral design? But the teaching stuck with me ever since. So much so, that when you wrote “four-armed” I twitched.

    I dunno, it was the 60’s. Weird stuff happened in the 60’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It just mystifies me why he prefers them. What is it that makes even numbers inherently evil? I’ve always had a strange preferred for evens, myself. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why!! Maybe because I always wished I could be a twin because my grandma was. But then, I wanted twins and, considering I can barely handle the one I’ve got, perhaps an odd number of children is better?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Even numbers always ultimately reduce to a binary (i mean by this pairs of opposites). Binaries (+/-, us/them, good/bad, male/female –are the ultimate basis for pretty much every anti-diversity and pro-war and oppression attitude everywhere.

        Odd numbers, well, they reduce to things that allow input from more possibilities than only a pair of apparent opposites does. There can’t be a ‘scape goat’ with odd numbers unless the others subscribe to and impose on all members a false binary.

        I’m always seeing the patterns in behavior and the thinking the fuels the actions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And this is where my background in academics fails me. I was a language arts major and have the barest comprehension of math other than to admire anyone who can do it better than me…which numbers a great many people. (Forgive my phrasing, I’ve been listening to a Hercule Poirot mystery and the turns of phrase sort of stick to one’s little grey cells!)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this — “Warning: He loves timers. He loves them to death.” I laughed myself silly over that. My son had timers, too, and as an adult, he loves watches. It’s a thing.
    Also, my youngest is one of those Houdini kids. I feel like the only people who understand that are other parents of errant children. Like, people nod along, seemingly understanding, but they don’t. They don’t know. As evidenced by the astonishment on their faces when the child went missing in the blink of an eye. If you’ve never had to call the authorities on a kid, or look for her in trees, or truly considered a leash, then you do not know. You know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Word! (And I do not use slang lightly. It is the cayenne pepper of the verbal flavor profile. Use too much and your tongue is burned!)

      Honestly, one of my favorite memories NOW (can’t use italics when on phone) was the time we stayed at a small travel lodge type hotel. We’re at breakfast surrounded by police officers who must be in town for a convention. We are the only civilians in the room. My son is about 5 or so and dressed in bright colors. I’m chatting with him, getting breakfast from the free morning buffet. I turn around and he’s gone! Just gone. I shriek his name and look to the roomful of professional observers. Not a single one of the thirty or so police had seen him escape! Fortunately, Booger came back to me, but I swear, I’m glad I didn’t have to rely on the crack team of singularly oblivious people around me at the time!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Action Jackson should be his middle name, however, I did give him the name Diego. This was before Dora the Explorer’s cousin made the big times, of course. With a name like that, you’d expect him to like animals! Oh well!


  6. Being mildly on the spectrum, I have a thing for numbers ending in zero or five. I do not have a thing for biting people, and my Mom assures me that I never have. Now, I work with five “Boogers”, who are collectively known as Sneaky Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I did not want to presume. Some people consider their fur babies as much as their human counterparts. Possible even more once the kids hit the teenage years. Also, I wouldn’t want to deny the chance I might be privileged with the honor of first contact with alien life forms, however remote the possibility.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I always hope the words on paper (or digital media) make sense to other people. I truly think it is hard to boil down into a few paragraphs a cogent and comprehensive detail of another person. That said, most of us could use a handbook to relate to the rest of the world–spectrum not withstanding. Thanks for your visit. Stop by anytime!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Please please tell me that the teacher read your letter in full! I once sent in a couple of sides of A4 of ‘top tips’ and within a week the teacher couldn’t remember anything on it. Others teachers were brilliant, but that one, holy smokes… That was a rough old year…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She thanked me for it. Now whether she read all of the attached sheets, I don’t know. That was the stuff I sent with Alexei to camp this summer and it was quite comprehensive. I am of a more is better mentality. I have to dial it back or I can swamp people–like I’m doing right here! Still, I figure if I warn people what might happen, then they can be on guard and I’m not responsible since I told them about it! Kind of a dispensation clause!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. (No one is typing this, because no one is back): How blessed you are, with your brilliant multi-faceted child’s ways of expressing himself and his desires and frustrations. Do you feel the blessings?

    The one who isn’t here, if s/he were, would be typing now due only to poop. It is possible that no one is something of an expert-once-removed (HAH ha ha!! ew, no: Not an expert once-it-is-removed.) having had occasion to have visited a childhood poop expert who had treated 14,000 (no kidding) poop-plugged children. Duphalac syrup, by prescription, (lactulose/milk sugar), can be used for even toddlers, even daily, long-term. It works unlike other products. It basically just makes the intestines “sweat” more water into the stool. Dosage is easily adjusted until just right. Very gentle. In case you hadn’t tried. Obviously, do own research, ck with doctor–if s/he any good. Is one link at end. Not saying that one used this for nobody for…two years?

    No one is wishing you, or teachers, or any frustrated child like yours who experiences great privilege of being confined in CLASSROOM(!), any best luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank no one for me, no one is ever so kind. Right now my son is asking for an hour long drive to a small park in Schoolcraft Michigan. If you have a hard time finding it on Google maps, don’t be surprised. It’s very tiny place.

      Thanks for the recommendation. I wonder if it is similar to Ducolax, which is what they are recommending now!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. welcome. ducolax has much added cr*p in it. do you want to add more cr*p? just saying. if ancient memory of no one serves, duphalac, and others, are plain lactulose syrup. when no one was someone, she trusted doc who helped 14K children, and saved her one from severe stress. (note: he was diet-controlled diabetic, and this did add very small amt of sugar every morn.)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. He is in an autism program within a regular school. He is one of four students, which kind of tells you how special he is. It’s all ASD kids and they waited to form the class so they’d have enough students to justify creating a middle school room.

      Liked by 1 person

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