Autism – Reaching Kindergarten
Chapter Five of my Austism Diary. In this entry I discuss the rapid progress we were experiencing since my son’s Aspbergers Syndrome diagnosis. Despite the progress, we had much to accomplish in order to get him ready for school and Kindergarten.
By now we were seeing intense progress in Jayson’s social abilities thanks to: diet, special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and tons of in-home work focusing on physical play and social interaction. Jayson’s savant-like cognitive abilities were still there. The symptoms were still there as well but lessening daily. Strangely, despite the progress, we weren’t satisfied.
My husband and I felt like we couldn’t rest. Our goal was Kindergarten and it was fast approaching.
My husband had a great quote that I’m going to paraphrase. “If a man came to me from the future and said ‘your son is going to excel and get a master’s degree by the time he was 12 years old,’ I would believe that. If that same man came to us from the future and said ‘your son is going to struggle heavily in special education and will always need to be taken care of,’ I would believe that too.” With kindergarten around the corner, I set out to research options using “school of choice” to find the best possible fit for school success for Jayson.
I took special care in finding the right fit for Jayson in terms of teacher and programs to help in his new school. I was happy to find an option that had a great program which allowed Jayson to attend PM Kindergarten and still receive help during school with speech and socialization throught the school’s special ed department. We sat down with the educators and developed a plan (an IEP) for Jayson to be pulled out of class periodically for speech lessons and social help. The Kindergarten teacher took very kindly to Jayson and was alerted to red-flags or symptoms (nervousness, flushed-face, flapping) to watch for from his Aspberger’s to see if he was having trouble. The staff, the therapists, the principal and Jayson’s new teacher were all wonderful! I felt like I won the lottery and I knew I had made the right choice.
The first day of Kindergarten is a wonderful time for any mom and my experience was no different. My husband and I couldn’t beleive that the day had come and Jayson “made it.” We actually looked deeply into each other’s eyes and high-fived. The staff at school kept all of their promises. We were alerted to Jayson’s progress and “difficult days” and were constantly in the loop in regards to what and how they were helping him. Jayson was doing really well and was beginning to use his cognitive strengths socially. The private instruction and attention by the speech department was also contributing to his success and they were constantly informing me of how they were tweaking aspects of their teachings around Jayson’s progress with Aspbergers.
In hindsight, I think Jayson’s early success with Kindergarten had a lot to do with the previous lessons we learned since he was diagnosed with Aspberger’s. We learned quickly that there wasn’t going to be much help, that “experts” weren’t going to suggest anything, that all available help would have to be sought by me and that said help often wasn’t covered by insurance. I took these lessons with me to the public schools. I had everyone involved in every aspect of help I could think of and they happily obliged. Had I not known all of this, I may have marched my son into the school system without a plan and hoped they would “figure him out.” Use even the smallest resources at your disposal to get as much help as you can.