By Michelle Pina Damiani for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers
A perk of eighth grade in Italy is the annual gita. Italian for “excursion,” this is a three-day rite of passage celebrating the end of middle school—a last “viva!” before the students divide into specialized high schools. Nicolas returned home in bliss from his recent gita and recounted stories of boat rides to Venetian palaces, the discovery of paprika flavored Pringles, and a realization about his classmate, Giovanni.
Giovanni is in one of the other eighth grade classes, so Nicolas didn’t know him before the gita. On the trip, Nicolas discovered that Giovanni is challenged. Though his comprehension seems adequate, his speech is hard to understand, and more than that, Giovanni isn’t fluent in social norms. In short, he hugs too much. He likes to pet students’ hair, and gets closer than is comfortable—even for Italians. He also gets upset easily, and requires a full-time aide.