Sending my autistic son to pre school

Stephanie - posted on 08/17/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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My almost 4 year old son is due to start pre school in about a week. We tried to send him last year but he was there two days and I decided he wasn't ready. We choose instead for someone to come to him. His case is mild though so I realy do want him to go into the classroom this year. We have been talking about it for awhile and we are going to visit the school later this week. I would welcome any advice on how to make this go as smoothly as possible.

Stephanie

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Pam - posted on 08/25/2009

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We had a good experience with pre-school, but it was a special needs school (cross categorical). After the first year, they suggested he'd do better in an autism-only class setting, and they helped us find a school with a good program. He spent another year in pre-school (in the regular elementary school building, so kids there have autism awareness education whether they realize it or not :) and one year in an autism-only kindergarden class. By then he could talk pretty well, so we mainstreamed him.

But yeah, it was so hard to send him off to all-day school when he was only three! They have what they call taxis, which is a station-wagon that goes around and picks up special-needs kids, so he didn't ride the bus 'til his sister started kindergarden (she's two years younger).

Hang in there. It can be tough til they adjuTst. Come to think of it, his sister had a lot harder time, when we started her in preschool at age 3. She'd cry and cling to me and look absolutely miserable when I dropped her off...but when I came to get her she was always having a good time. She's 10 now, and has very very fond memories of her preschool.

Alisha - posted on 08/20/2009

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Ahhh im doing the same thing in about 2 months Im terrified!! i wish he could stay with me forever! I feel for you hope everything turns out great for you and your son!

Amy - posted on 08/19/2009

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Well Stephanie I find that my son Tre who is also autistic does much better if we use a transitioning system pecs that show him what he has to look forward through out the day. It is a board that has pic of arrival, lunch, playtime, work time and so on when one is compete he will take it off and put in in a box or envelope and go to the next think then he will know when its time to go home .. Amy :)

[deleted account]

Are you talking about the pre-school program at your public elementary school or a private pre-school? Our pre-school program was awesome and yes, there will be tears and tantrums. Remember, part of Autism is their difficulty in dealing with changes. However, I do not think that a private pre-school is the appropriate setting for our kiddos!

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Jessica - posted on 11/18/2014

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My 4 year old with pdd nos started preschool about a month ago. At first he really loved it but yesterday I got a call to come pick him up because he was (in the nurses words) tearful and they didn't think he would get much out of being there that morning. Of course after I picked him up he was fine all day. This morning I said Ok its time to go to school, and he just kept saying "Stay home" so I let him have the day off. My concerns are that he doesn't communicate very well so if something had happened at school the previous week that made him not want to go, I wouldn't know because he cant tell me. Has anyone else had this problem? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Julie - posted on 08/30/2009

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My son goes to a Special Services Preschool at an Elementary school so you can look for something similar to that, they are great with him.

Wendy - posted on 08/27/2009

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first and foremost, he needs the social interaction, critical at this stage, don't forget that. It was hard at first but the benefits outweigh the tears, trust me. is it a special school or a regular school?

Jennifer - posted on 08/26/2009

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My only advice is to make sure you get one that has a strict daily routine. We had to try more than one before we found a school that kept to the routine and then everything else just clicked into place. If the teacher is whishy washy - it won't work well. Understanding, discpline and love must be combined...

Angela - posted on 08/26/2009

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Remember you are his mom, All the experts in the world don't know your child the way you do. Trust your judgement. I have a three yr old, will be four in a month with moderate autism. He has been in a normal preschool and i liked the classroom part but there wasn't enough one on one therapy available. I now have him enrolled in a specialty school, Minnesota Autism Center. I needed to find a really good balence. I had to do the work and the research. You can do it.
Good Luck

Sheena - posted on 08/26/2009

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see if you can meet with the teacher and aids a couple time so your son can meet them and become comfortable around them .. see what support they have to give to you and your son .. make sure you feel welcomed and they have the needs you want for your child . Dont be affair to ask for help and dont be affaired to speak up on what you think your child needs

Donna - posted on 08/25/2009

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you have to give it more than a few days! i know its hard, i felt like i was the only person that could understand or do for my son. he had a therapist that came to the house then at 3 he started at the school. it was the best thing for him. he is about to be 10, he goes to normal class and special ed class.

Cara-lane - posted on 08/22/2009

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The first few classes of pre school for my four year old were hard. she had been assigned an aid for the class but I was still unsure of this persons ability to handle her tantrums when transitioning from one activity to the other. So I stayed out side the class room and listened to her scream the first few classes, but they were handeling it well. I did find that if she saw me in the building durring class time she would have a break down cause I wasn't with her, my advice is to watch but give them (both the staff and the child) time to find their way and stay out of sight unless your needed. by Casie's fourth class she was excited to be there. Good Luck

Jenny - posted on 08/22/2009

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my nice is Austistic & my son has had some learning problems. My niece & son both started pre school at 3yrs old they went to a preschool that was trained to help kids with problems like mild autism or learning delays. My niece who is austistic went to early intervention last year before starting school this year which helped heaps. She is in a support class at school IO. we sent our kids to marrayong preschool which was great. The most inportant thing is you explain your son's problems & that the preschool can help him learn for eg with visuals. All the best. Jenny.

Alicia - posted on 08/22/2009

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If you can swing it try to find an autism specific classroom. Kids on the spectrum have different needs than other special needs kids and a mixed class isn't always the best fit for them. Also the teachers will have more experience with autism typically. Either way it may take him more than a few days to adjust. My son's teacher uses PECS throughout the day so we don't need to create one for him but we give him a visual schedule in the am to help him feel more comfortable with leaving. We arrange pics of eating, dressing, a backpack, then the school bus. It really seems to help. The other piece of advise I can offer is utilize the bus if it's available to you. Liam's teacher suggested it with him stating that often the kids do better with the bus than when they are dropped of by their parents. I had a hard time believing that and hated putting him on the bus at first. I worried about him. But his teacher was right. When we dropped him off and he had to watch us leave it was much harder on him than when we put him on the bus.

Good luck. Putting him in school has been wonderful for Liam. I hope your son finds the same success.

Julie - posted on 08/20/2009

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I understand how hard it is to send an autistic child to preschool. Thankfully my son made the transition from in-home therapy to the classroom fairly easily. His teachers are very patient and understanding with him. I think Amy's suggestion of using the transition pecs is a great idea. I think that really helped with my son. Also, if your son is apprehensive about going, ask his teacher if a favorite stuffed animal or toy can accompany him for a few days while he transitions. I know my son is more comfortable in new surroundings if one of his stuffed animals is with him.

Tammy - posted on 08/19/2009

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You are so right! A child needs some time to adjust to the surroundings and rules. It doesn't happen overnight. I work in a public school with our spec. ed/at risk kids preschool. LOVE IT! I get to meet our kids tonight! I'm excited, but I know most of them won't be as happy to see me. The first few days are rough for some of them, even those that don't have a lot of special needs. Those that come in and already have a heightened sense of their surroundings are going to take longer. They are going to be with other kids that are also not to sure about what's going on. Get to know the staff as much as possible. If they do something you don't agree with (as long as its not abuse) go to them. Ask questions. Remember there will be other people around watching out for your child. Most people I know in the field have a wonderful sense of humor, including myself, and most of us are not in it for the money! I wouldn't want to work anywhere else!!!!!

Good luck to all!

Tammy

April - posted on 08/19/2009

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My son will have a preschool evaluation at home this week. I can totally understand and sympathize. It can be nerveracking as what to do. My husband and I are on the same page and want to Homeschool our son during school years. Our city offers a GREAT preschool program to children with developmental disabilities and that is why we have decided to send him to preschool this year. He is only 3 and has Aspergers but I am hoping and praying preschool will give him better direction in obeying and listening. This school also offers speech, physical and social therapy. If you have a child with a developmental diagnosis or if the counselor suspects a diagnosis during the evaluation then the preschool is done for free out of our governments dollar. Maybe if this preschool is not to work do not be discouraged but check for other options of preschool. Especially ones that specialize in developmental disabilities. You may have a little bit of a drive though. I know it is very hard to place a "busy" kid in "normal" preschool. I wish you the best of luck:)

Karen - posted on 08/18/2009

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My son was in several different pre school programs and most could not handle him and had to dismiss him. I tried a Montessori school and this was the best option. It worked for his attention level and the teachers were very patient with him. I wish I had tried it sooner as that was his last year in pre school. Now he attends a special ed school on a scholarship grant but I am not happy with it and will be going to the public school system to see if it works better for him.

Stacy - posted on 08/18/2009

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Hi Steph,

You must be terrified! But dont worry,I cried and cried for days but when my son came home each day saying a new color or number or song it mad up for my tyears 10 fold. he started school with a 20 word vocab and now I cant shut him up!! Its harder for us than it is for the kids,Just make sure you do your research,have an IEP,and stick to it. Ask for Speech,OT and PT behavioral or ABA whatever you think he/she needs,you can even get a child advocate to go with you. it will be the best thing for your child especiall for socialization. You can do it,if you can raise a baby with autism,anythings possible right? I hope I can help Stacy

[deleted account]

I sent my son when he was 4 and it was a good year. Year 5 was horrible, terrible. Year 6 we found a fabulous Montessori school. Public school wanted to put him back in pre-k. Montessori, he is about to read, is reading basic words, still working on the social but 100% better where he is. Public school teaches the way they teach and the students learn or not. Montessori teaches the way the student learns. Jamie spent more time in the time out box or the office than he ever did in class due to sensory issues. I don't know what I would do without Lakeland Academy in Union Valley, Texas.

Debbie - posted on 08/17/2009

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When you visit the school explain as well as you can that he will not only learn but meet new playmates. Also please give it more than a few days. Things will go smoother than you think. My son has PDD and didn't even speak more that 3 words at 3 when he started it is hard but the best for your child. I worried about the bus ride right down to his not ever being cared for by anyone but myself or his dad. He had a rough time for the first week but than started to look forward to going. It is honsetly harder on the parent than the child. Also let him take his favorite blanket for nap time so that he at least has one familar thing with him there. Good luck. I know this isn't really what you were looking for but hopefully it some to ease your mind

Debbie

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