First I want to say there should not need to be one month of the 12 for awareness of autism, breast cancer, or any of the dozens of others, it should be awareness all year. Off my soapbox now.
Shannon is an Autism Support teacher, and a very dedicated one if what she writes is any indication. To Shannon and all like her I say a very sincere thanks. I include para-professionals in the field–they keep the student-instructor ration way, way down, much smaller class sizes than in any public school setting. Without your amazing help and cooperation with us as a family; including us as a part of his team, he wouldn’t be where he is today and neither would we. We learned almost as much under your guidance as our son did.
He is now a young man, not a secret to any who follow my blog. (To those that do– Thank you) Needless to say, he has benefited greatly over his eighteen years in the education system by teachers who are dedicated to helping people like himself be all they can be; all they were meant to be. We went outside the box of conventional wisdom in the 80s and 90s and had him placed out of district into schools that specialized in helping children like ours that didn’t learn conventionally. We were demeaned for that choice almost as much as he was when we tried placing him for kindergarten and 1st grade in town. The teacher in 1st grade couldn’t handle the other kids’ reaction to him, though she honestly tried to teach him. So back to out of district he went. The schools we experienced were wonderful at their goal of helping these students where they were at, regardless of their chronological age. Parents were welcome there and were included by way of “shuttle notebook” what was happening there, we returned the notebook with info on what was happening here. These kids are very impacted by what happens outside the classroom; at home or on the bus.
His toilet-training was done as a joint effort of the school staff and us, his family. We communicated our charts of how often he was toileted, success and failure ratio, and once the diapers were off, they never went on again., at home or at school. Not even pull-ups. Not taking any change of circumstance well is a trait common among those with autism, and this boy was no exception. Many superhero underwear and extra clothes were bought and washed during that time. Many, many. On vacation I was resentful of spending part of every day at the laundromat. And we’re talking three day vacations. That is all he could tolerate away from his routine. He went to summer school, they made it fun by having day camp type activities built into the day, but so were academics. An entire summer off from school, these students regressed a lot.
I had the privilege of working as a substitute para-professional in one school (where our son ended up spending twelve of his eighteen years of school). I was bitten by a student because of her disability, whatever it was. Another student who had Tourette’s Syndrome (I had to be warned of behaviors) spit on me, kicked me, used unacceptable language. All was accepted, though verbally corrected, because of his diagnosis and its severity. He also has cerebral palsy to the severity he was in a wheelchair and at 21 still could not walk, stand, talk clearly or much of what you would expect of a “normal” 21 year old. Yet he, like all of the students, were accepted there. Through that school our son learned to be non-judgmental of others, he was our guy’s friend. Because this young man graduated before our son, he came back to the school to see our guy, his friend, graduate.
Our son has held competitive employment, working 40 hours a week. That never would have happened if he had stayed in public school here. He is currently unemployed, as many are, seeking employment, doing jobs at home. We’re glad he does, especially considering we both have disease in our lumbar areas that make doing many of the things he does impossible for us. He was scraping popcorn paint off the ceiling yesterday. That amount of time standing would not be possible for either of us, his parents.
If anyone has anything to say or ask, please do. This blog is set up as a no-reply because I cannot change it at this point in time, but my email is at the top right of the page. Thanks for showing your interest by reading this.
- 10 Best Autism Apps for the iPad (laptopmag.com)