Inclusion vs Life skills for ASD

Faith - posted on 02/08/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have twin boys with ASD. I would like to see them in the general ed enviornment by high school but am not getting a positive responce from the school. They are currently in 7th grade and would be considered high functioning (in my opinion). I am open to ALL input and ideas. I would love to hear about your success and trial and errors. Its hard for me to know if I am making the right choices as I know MY boys and not other ASD kids. I feel like I have a good grasp on their abilities and have a good idea on what our options are but it would be great to gain fresh perspective from other moms who have been where I am. Thank you for your help!

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Daniella - posted on 02/15/2011

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As a parent of an Aspy, a former special education teacher and a certfied school administrator trust me when I say that it shouldnt have to be one OR the other. It is entirely appropriate for children to participate in standards based instruction in general education, with support, while working on "life skills" in a resource room of specially designed class. A Res. Hab. worker can also work on life skills as can a therapist/counselor/social worker. When your children are 14 their IEPs will have to include transition goals and activities to plan for their post secondary life. Autismspeaks has a new and fantastic Transition Tool Kit that is free to download and no, I dont work for them. I just checked it out today.

Daniella - posted on 02/18/2011

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The Federal Law states that students are entitled to a free, appropriate public education in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT. They are supposed to craft an INDIVIDUALIZED program based on students needs, not programs in place. I dont know what state you are in but I suggest you visit your state education department website for more information about your rights and district responsibility. Without knowing more about your kids its hard for me make a recommendation that would be helpful but if there is a way to email someone privately from here, please do! All the research points to Inclusion being more effective both in educational performance AND in social development.

Donna - posted on 02/16/2011

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Faith, that's sounds like they should have no major difficulties from sensory issues in going back to general education. What I'd do to help them regain some of their academic abilities is to find some type of educational computer programs to help prepare for high school and start using them at home now as reinforcement. Some that are very reasonable are from Ohio Distinctive Software. They are in game format and engaging for kids on the AS spectrum. They start out relatively simple and will progress to where it would be challenging for even adults on some of their programs. We've found them to be very helpful with my boy, who is almost 17 now. He's high functioning AS, but not at grade level. Good luck.

Karen - posted on 02/16/2011

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I have a son who was diagnosed w/ High Functioning Autism/Aspergers when he was entering 2nd grade he now is in 9th grade.

At the time of my son entering the public school system, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher that recognized some of his issues and got the ball rolling for us. Things have been trial and error through the years, but if you feel your sons are up to it I would definitely put them in inclusion. As they grow and mature their learning ability will change and you can always switch them back if it doesn’t work out. I really didn’t know much back then and the way the system worked but had to allow myself to trust the people around me that had been through what I was getting ready to go through with my son. Advocates are wonderful and insightful to what you should realistically expect from the process. Every child is different and learns differently. My son was put into an inclusion class starting in 2nd grade. He also benefited by social skills group and as well as individual counseling provided by our district. He was assigned 1 on 1 aide that he had for many years up till almost the end of 8th grade. The aide was there to help him with what ever he felt he needed help understanding and to help remind him when to focus w/out bringing to much attention to himself therefore making a seen that was preventable.

I cannot tell you how much progress my son made since they placed him in inclusion. The inclusion classes gave him the foundation for his educational growth he has achieved. He now has exceeded all expectations and has transition into regular 9th grade classes. At his last IEP before entering into 9th grade the district felt he was academically ready. We did have some anxiety issues in the beginning of the year but should be expected with such a change from what he knows. It’s a very scary as a parent only wanting the best for your child and to have them succeed to the best of their ability academically. Although he is in regular classes he still has an IEP and receives social skills, counseling and extra help when needed to help with the stress and anxiety he might feel when overwhelmed. My son has matured and grown academically and emotionally and has made honors and high honor all for the past two years. Just another note that if your son has an interest or hobby it’s really good therapy. It’s helped my son stay focused and on track due to his lack of companionship that comes with a child that has Aspergers. He has been our schools top goalie for the Jr. Varsity soccer team. His coaches tell us he has the potential of being able to receive a scholarship. So, with all that said I hope I gave you some insight. Just make sure you are his advocate and have to stay on top of things. Educationally it’s all trial and error. You will know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion even when it’s not what they think. God Bless and Good Luck

Donna - posted on 02/16/2011

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Faith, one issue no one else seems to have brought up is the sensory integration issue. Sometimes the regular classroom is too stimulating for even the high functioning AS kids. If they handle groups of 20-30 with multiple things going on without melting down, go for it. However, sometimes we go for inclusion and set our kids up for failure. See if the twins can go visit a regular classroom and see if they like or dislike the environment.

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Daniella - posted on 02/16/2011

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sounds like your district has failed to provide educational benefit to your children. Re open the discussion about the progress of your children. If they cant provide an environment that gives your children educational benefit... consider filing a complaintwith your state education agency.

Faith - posted on 02/16/2011

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Daniella Lans, As a former special ed teacher maybe you can tell me, what should a parent do when she is told that the school only has general ed and life skills to choose from but she (I) feel that they need something in between for some of their classes? They would be fine with an aid in history and science but would need additional help with english and math. I feel like they have lost progress since being placed in Life skills and they are the highest functingin their life skills class...

Faith - posted on 02/16/2011

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Donna Salhany, Thank you for your post. My boys don't have meltdowns. They are in band in general ed as well as history 2 days a week and the biggest problem for them is staying focused. The focus is the #1 problem second to them speaking off topic and not following the flow of the class. Thank you again.

Faith - posted on 02/16/2011

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Donna Cox, I have considered homeschooling however next year would be the earliest that I can start. I have found a great resource for schooling at home. Our state has public school online. I thinki that would be a good option if we are unable to accomplish our goals with the school. Our school is the same way...General ed or life skills. There are NO "in-between" classes. I am just not sure what to do yet....Thank you for your input!

Faith - posted on 02/16/2011

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The problem that I am having is that our middle school says that they have EITHER life skills of FULL inclusion and that there is NO resource support! I don't know what to ask for the boys as far as supports in the general ed enviornment. Also, since they have been moved to life skills (2 years now) they have regressed academily. It is hard to insist that they can handle general ed when they are no longer on grade level like they were before???? Any help???

Donna - posted on 02/16/2011

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Hi Faith,
I have twin boys as well, one typical, one severely autistic. And I have a 15 year old daughter with Asperger's. It's really frustrating that we all usually only have two choices, mainstream or life skills. For our daughter Life Skills classes are just not challenging enough and mainstreaming her is way too difficult, she can't stay focused with all of the social aspects that she fails miserably at. We tried for her Freshman and Sophmore years to do the mainstream, but she was bascially failing everything. We actually ended up having to put into a residential program because she started cutting herself. We are now going to start back home schooling, we homeschooled for about half of her lower grades and it's the only time she was able to keep up to her grade level. I have found a strong homeschool community where she gets social interaction in a better, controlled enviornment. I wish I had more encouraging words, but I think things are getting ready to be even worse for public education, with more and more parents putting their kids in private schools, it's depleting our public schools resources and special education will suffer.

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Your school may lose money if you put him into a regular class. Just something to keep in mind as you go through your meetings to go over your options. We won't have our meeting until April, but I want to mainstream my son next
year. Good luck!

Diane - posted on 02/15/2011

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I have a 7th grader in Vermont and he is in general ed.. with some support. The tutor has several students in the classroom. Our district is moving toward total inclusion for as many students as possible. He struggles with sensory overload but the school has provided an"escape" for him and he can take the break whenever needed. He is getting all B's and has gone to 2 school dances. So, while there are difficulties I feel that he is having success with the support provided. Oh, they also developed a sensory integration room where he and others can go to regulate their nervous systems. I would advocate for these types of supports in your district.. we also have a case management team that helps with getting the school services he needs, check and see what your state offers for developmental support services, It takes a lot of push to get what our kids need for success.. It sounds like you are a willing mom.. on another note Vermont is in the top 5 in the nation for special ed services and inclusion..perhaps look at what our laws are and educate youself for battle. you can read them online. good luck

Cheryl - posted on 02/15/2011

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I have twin boys w/ASD in 9th grade. If your guys are up to it I definitely would say put them in inclusion. You can always switch back if it doesnt work out - but i bet they will progress so much more in an inclusion setting -IF they are on board. I cannot tell you how much progress my guys have made since 7th grade and they are in inclusion and regular classes. My guys started out with 1 on 1 aides in 7th. One didnt need it after 7th and was put into some honors classes. The other "lost" the aide spring of 8th and is in mostly inclusion classes as the NON iep student (as a favor to me by the guidance counselor- ask and ye shall get). He gets a bit of extra help that way and feels less stressed. He is losing resource room soon too..they are weaning him to every other day til the end of this year :0. (a bit scary for me - hes fine with it) They have both grown remarkably academically and emotionally in the past two years and I bet you will see the same with yours! It does a heart good! Good luck Faith

Fiona - posted on 02/15/2011

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I agree with Liz. I have two boys (11 & 7) in mainstream schooling. The school itself is really helpful in that we are in a constant dialog with them about where the boys are at and what the next step needs to be for them academically and socially. The school also knows that they only need to call and we will come immediately to help if needed. Start talking with the teacher and if you have no luck go higher until you start getting answers. Once the school realises that you are "on side" and wanting the best for you kids in all aspects of their lives, they will help.

God Bless

Liz - posted on 02/08/2011

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My son is much younger. He should be in the 1st grade. He is in life skills. He benefits greatly in a classroom of higher functioning kids. He goes to kindergarten in the afternoons. If you feel strongly that your boys should be in mainstream class then put it in writing and make the either agree or tell you why they think your boys aren't ready for an inclusion class. Inclusion placement doesn't have to be an all or nothing. Sometimes, going to inclusion half a day is appropriate and sometimes all day inclusion is best. You know your boys better than anyone. Go with your instincts and stand firm with the school. I hope this will help you in some way.

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