Teachers, Counselors and Parents: “Practice What You Preach”!


I was looking online for a quote based on the idiom “Practice What You Preach”. Out of all the quotes I came across, the one I am about to share is probably my favorite one I have come across in a long time. The quote read “It is always easier to fight for your principals than to live up to them”. The term for people who don’t “practice what they preach” is a hypocrite. Here is one of my favorite bible verses about hypocrisy.

Matthew 7 vs 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged and the measure you give will be judged, and the measure you get is the measure you get. Why do you seek the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbors eye.

I don’t normally bring discussion about the bible into my blogs, but this perfectly describes the many experiences I have been through with therapists, teachers and other adults who have preached “social skills” to me. I want to start with describing a teacher I had during my sophomore year at the Freeport Area Senior High School. For those of you who know me and/or who are frequent readers of my blog know that I have attended the Lenape Technical School for my junior and senior year. Freeport put me in the learning support classes since I was in the fifth grade. I was in the support room at the high school, and we were handed a scheduling paper for our junior year. My most recent blog post before this one described a math class with this teacher. I saw the optical electronics program at Lenape, and I was so bitter about the whole experience at Freeport that I knew there was only one way to make me feel better about school. I had to get out of there.

The teacher asked me what classes I wanted to take and I said “I don’t know”. She told me “You better decide quickly because if you don’t, you will have to take what we picked for you.” I responded “Then I’ll just go into cyber school if I don’t get accepted into Lenape”. The teacher obnoxiously responded “Derek, the state of Pennsylvania is eliminating cyber school next year. Also, there is now a fee to attend Lenape. Your parents are now required to pay half. You will not be admitted into the school if your parents don’t pay before the end of this school year”. That evening, I brought it up to my parents. My mother told me not to worry, because both of those ignorant statements were not true. Lenape is the comprehensive vocational technical school for Armstrong county. The school district pays the money for students to attend. What baffled me about this situation was how the teacher would try to convince me into believing her even though she knew her statements were false. She always reprimanded me for not interacting “appropriately”, while she bullied me into making the decision to stay at Freeport and be educated to become a janitor. I obviously did not let her bully me into what Freeport wanted me to do, so I went to Lenape and for the most part I feel happier and more fulfilled.

I have described my experiences with traditional “social skills” groups. Wesley Wonder Kids didn’t really work for me because it was mainly focused on teaching kids appropriate ways to interact with people. They used several teaching materials such as role plays and social stories. Before I go into more detail, I know there are many kids who would benefit from this program. I wasn’t very fond of it because it was the same routine every session. At the beginning of the session, each group member was asked to share news stories from their week. They would all talk about their favorite video games, movies, music and activities they participated in throughout the week. When my turn came, I didn’t really know what to share. I hated school, so I didn’t want to talk about that. I am not an avid movie fan. I was and still am a weightlifter, but they already knew that. They were not particularly interested in exercising, so I figured I shouldn’t talk about that. I didn’t do much else besides going to school and going to the gym. I would take my dog on occasional walks and go on errands with my parents on occasions but that was it.

The staff members would put me on the spot and pressure me into sharing something. I remember one sessions somebody asked “what did you have for lunch today?” I reluctantly responded “pizza”. Let’s go back to another post that described a situation during an activity during coffee talk.

Each group member was assigned a date on the calendar, and on that specific date you were supposed to bring a desert type snack and choose a topic the group can easily discuss for fifteen minutes. On one particular day, it was another group member’s turn to choose a topic. When it came time for coffee talk, he didn’t have his topic chosen like he was supposed to. It took him five minutes to finally choose one, and he finally chose “pop culture”. Everybody had their favorite movie, band or television show to talk about and I had absolutely no idea what to say. All of the group members would talk over each other, and the parents could hear them in the lobby next door over the air conditioning vent. Because coffee talk was the last activity of the night, I was only focused on going home and going to bed. Then a voice from one of the staff members rang out “Derek, we haven’t heard from you yet. What do you have to contribute to this discussion?” I responded by saying “I don’t know”. The group members turned around and started pressuring me to say something, similar to most of my peers in school when they would ask me things like “Why Are You So Quiet”? When it finally became time to leave, I muttered in disgust “I hate being put on the spot”. Another staff member heard my remark and said “You have to suck it up, you are going to be put on the spot for the rest of your life”.

I would have been much happier at Wesley Wonder Kids if the staff members would have listened to me and tried to understand how I was personally effected by Asperger’s. A true person with “social skills” will listen to them and do whatever they can to help them get through a problem. I was a very reserved person at Freeport. Wesley told me I should not be judgmental, when made comments towards me regarding how much of a failure I would be if I didn’t make friends “immediately”.

I am going to be graduating from high school in six weeks. I know college is going to be different from high school in many ways, but I still have no idea what it is really going to have in store for me. I am going to try my hardest not to let judgmental people bring me down, because I know I may encounter them. I think the only “therapy” I need is to learn about Electro Optics, a career field with many different job opportunities. Another “therapy” will be to publish a book about my life. I hope I will “shed some more light” about Asperger’s. We need to teach people that every kids with Asperger’s is different, and we should encourage them to use their gifts in order to build on their weaknesses.

I hope you enjoyed reading!

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5 thoughts on “Teachers, Counselors and Parents: “Practice What You Preach”!

  1. Did you ever hear the term “Social phobia”? Many, many people have that–people not dealing with Aspergers,
    Autism,etc. And I have come to realize that I have it–I used to just call it shyness, but it’s even harder to deal with I think. It has hampered me greatly. The way it manifests itself to me is that I do all kinds of things to avoid having to talk to someone, and it is simply because I can’t think of a thing to say–even people I know quite well, and like. It is so crippling. It is very important lots of times that I initiate a conversation with someone, but most of the time I avoid it. (I am a pastor’s wife–that is not good!) I watch the people with a gift-of-gab and wonder, “why can’t I just do that?” I’ve wondered if I had had an opportunity to work on the problem as a young person, would I have developed some skills along that line. It would have been a wonderful thing.
    Thanks for your insights.

    • Florence:

      yes, I do know about “social phobia” and certainly “social anxiety”.

      In my poetry class, a fellow student had it, like you.

      And then I regularly read the writings of a woman who has been in two countries, is educated in a scientific field and works with people with learning disabilities as a tutor. Over the past 3 years, she has done more than just about anyone else for me to get it.

      Yes, it is something to be afraid of “starting” or “creating something new”.

      Perhaps you might have, or perhaps you might have been too self- and other- conscious.

      And, yes, it is different from shyness, because many shy people do warm up to people they like and know well.

      There is a lot of “thinking about thinking”. Meditation and exercise both do seem to work well for different people in different situations. Also sensory experience is important.

  2. Have the greatest bewilderment about teachers who lie.

    Very grateful that many of mine cared for me and wanted what was best for me.

    Great point about listening to “how you are affected”: both in the sense of how it feels, and how your functional and experiential diversity impacts upon you as you perceive it.

  3. Speaking of “practice what you preach”: one of the most powerful non-verbal ways to show it is through a Charlie Chaplin movie.

    Chaplin was always standing up against authority and for the common man. It’s a big theme in his movies: the challenge to hypocrisy.

    So if someone was a visual person, they might very well enjoy it.

    I could probably think of various comedians and social critics who serve the same function.

  4. To be honest, I don’t know if I have anything like asperger’s, but a lot of situations like this seem familiar. I try to avoid talking to people usually. (I have been more social lately though) It’s really annoying when people respond like that, instead of with actual advice, it doesn’t help how much I hate hypocrites, mainly because they’re usually to biggoted to admit what they are.

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