School recess was often a distressing time for Adam - too many kids, too much action, too many interactions. We frequently dealt wih post-recess upsets during his early school years, with Adam unable to calm down or say what was wrong. In grade 4, we had a break-through. A classmate of Adam's came in after recess and told the teacher that she had seen another boy harassing Adam at recess. I sat down with Adam, and drew a picture of the boy kicking him. Adam was crying and nodding his head and repeating "no kicking". I drew a red circle with a stroke through it over the picture, reassuring him that this was not allowed, and that the teacher would make sure that it didn't happen again. For the first time that school year, he was able to calm down and do his afternoon school work. What was key in this situation was the clear visual communication to Adam (through drawing) that we all knew what had been happening on the playground, and the follow-up message (transmitted through the red circle over the picture) that it was against the school rules and that the other boy was in the wrong. The relief that Adam felt over finding out this information was palpable.
And the post-script to this incident was also very interesting. Adam went home that night and drew the following two pictures, showing him taking his revenge on the boy (I love the cartoon lump on the boy's head and the motion marks indicating him spinning around - I also love the clearly expressed emotions on the cartoon faces):
The picture he drew shows several boys chasing Adam - the boys thought it was a fun game - Adam thought he was in mortal danger. The teacher's reaction in this situation was terrific. Once Adam drew the picture, she handled it in the same way that she would with any recess altercation with any other student. The boys who had been chasing Adam went to talk to the principal, and that discussion helped them to understand why he was upset. Then the boys drew apologies to Adam: