My son is five years old and technically should be starting kindergarten this coming fall. My son also happens to have an Autism diagnosis along with developmental delays and sensory processing disorder. We have been doing as much therapy as we can possibly fit into our lives and it is making a world of a difference yet socially we aren’t where I had hoped to be at the start of kindergarten. My son meets every Monday, well now every other Monday for a social skills group to help him understand common social cues and social situations with peers his age. Most people who look at my son or see him briefly wouldn’t think he struggles in this area yet he does and severely.
As his mother my desire for him to be mainstreamed in school is a goal and an option I want him to have. I feel by him being around neurotypical children he will learn so much. I also know he will struggle emotionally and that is what I am trying to limit or to protect him from as best as I possibly can. It’s been a real struggle for me in deciding which school he is going to attend, trying to get all the paperwork in to get our IEP set in place and continuing his therapy at St. David’s.
Today when we were waiting for our therapist my son was playing on a mat with cars. He said. “I want to be red! ” And I said, ” Ok! I’ll be…” and just then another boy, whom he’s familiar with and has worked with, came up and grabbed the red car and joined us. Now that instantly made my son shut down, bow his head and become extremely sad and disengaged. He looked up at me and softly said, “I wanted red.” then bowed his head back down in disappointment again.
You see my son does not comprehend these situations like most. It has taken over a year of therapy for him to be able to voice his wants and needs. This comes natural for most. Not my son, he has worked tremendously hard to get where he is at right now. He no longer shuts down completely, I can get him to reengage within minutes verses shutting down completely and not returning to what it was that upset or hurt him. We have made amazing progress yet we still have a ways to go. And looking at the long term I have decided it is in his best interest given his needs of improving his social skills, having to complete a full and functional IEP and having an upcoming move, that it is in the best interest of my son to wait until next fall, when he is six years old to start kindergarten.
This is where his father and grandmother come in. They do not understand my sons diagnosis, they have not been active in his therapy or active in his care. They do not feel Autism is “as big of a deal” as “I am making it.” In their words.
His Grandmother said this to me, “Autism isn’t standing in your way. He will be in school next September. He is not limited with his issues.”
I’m not sure what planet she’s on?!
I’d say my son is limited by his condition and that is the reason I have done so much to educate myself and the reason I’ve tried my hardest to inform and educate anyone who has interaction with my son. My son has worked unbelievably hard to get where he is right now and it is down right an insult to his hard work and my continued hard work and support for him.
And they wonder why I’m making the decisions for my son..
Now you add in the fact we will now have another year under our belt of social skills therapy, we will have enough time to secure a proper IEP in place along with permanently living in the school district and not having to move after he’s already started kindergarten. I’d say that is a very thought out plan. And a plan that is solely based on the best interest of my son and his needs.
Yet, they will never see that…