starting nursery school with autism

Emma - posted on 09/19/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have never posted anything on here before but after today i thought i would. My son aged 3 (4 in november) started nursery school today. As it was there first day the parents had to stay but are allowed to leave the next day (he is in mainstream school at the moment) there is Autism in both sides of the family, my partners nephew and also my own so i have always been well aware of autism so it never came as a shock, so to speak, when my son was diagnosed, i already knew kind of thing, so it was just the official diagnosis i was always looking for, anyway, today at school, what came as a massive shock to me, that actually brought me to tears was the vast difference between the other children and my son, hes always been in childcare settings so obviously i knew he was different but when you actually sit there and watch it was like a smack in the face just how different and how non-repsonsive my son is. The nursery are well aware of my sons autism and for today were happy for him to sit at the table colouring (one of his obsessions is colouring) while he got used to his sorroundings, but you could see the other parents looking over thinking well why is he allowed to do that but my child isnt. Being left to his own agenda he is fine but as we all know thats not the way it works, i tried to get him to sit on the carpet with the other children but thats when the tantrums started and as im sure you all know the ''look'' you get from other parents, espcailly as hes already being treated differently and allowed to sit at the table. im due a meeting with the schools senco officer to discuss my son ferther but it was just a shock seeing everything and even toileting he was struggling with and couldnt sit on the seat properly, he nearly wee'd all over the back of his trousers, luckily i saw it and was able to help him out and push him ferther on the seat, but from tomorrow i wont be there and there is only so much they can do. Im not really having a go at anything but due to being so upset by it all earlier i had to just write it somewhere. has anyone else been in my situation? any advice? maybe im over-reacting, but in all honestly, i dont think i am. thankyou for reading if you have. :-(

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Sharlene - posted on 09/20/2011

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Hi Emma-
Our little girl, also 3, started two weeks ago. She's in a special ed class in the morning, and in a typical preschool in the afternoon. Taking in the difference between her and same/similar aged peers is really hard. We've had some moments, sometimes when hanging out on the weekends with our friends, who have kids a year younger than she, we're astounded. And we do still get sad. Please try not to let the other parents affect you. If they took but a minute to ask, share, bond then they would know, and respect you for all you're giving your son. If they can't make that effort, than they're not worth any of your energy at all. I do think it might be worth considering an IEP. We were really not feelin' it for our little girl, but are glad we did. For three hours a day, she feels really successful. And she's happy. She loves school. We're glad she has 3 hours a day with typical peers too, but she performs better, is more relaxed, and more successful when she's with teacher's who truly get her. Good luck to you. I don't believe there are right and wrong answers, except to be as gentle and compassionate with yourself and your son as possible.

[deleted account]

One last thing: when my son started preschool, I initially wanted him in the "regular" class, but was persuaded into putting him in the autism class. Since he was 3 at the time, I agreed. During the past year, it has been a blessing: he has one teacher and parapro to 8 kids. They are the ones that taught me the TEACHH method, and use it at school. He still has had the special time, assistance and tools needed to help him grow immensely in the past year. He is still very socially delayed, but academically he is almost on/above grade level now, and we are discussing mainstreaming him part time for kindergarten. Now looking back, I am glad that I put him in the autism class.
Now, that being said, I know it's not for everyone... it just worked well for my son, in my situation.
Just my 2 cents.

"If you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism".

Best regards!

Rebecca - posted on 09/19/2011

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I think it's normal to be concerned for your child. My son was supposed to start at an Autism preschool today as well. Have you had an IEP meeting yet? Knowing what is instore next for him might bring some reassurance and peace. I would just try to have good communication between yourself and the teachers. See if it is possible for you to do "visits" to the classroom to see how he is doing. Feel free to message me if you need to talk.

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Emma - posted on 10/05/2011

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Thankyou everyone for taking the time to read my post and comment. At the moment erin we do use a visual timetable including now and then cards but in all honesty he dont really need them at home, its more for when hes out such as nursery, park ect that they really come into play and help but at home hes quite passive and i can change activities (such as from colouring to sitting for dinner) with it not being a problem. Ive recently been given a bearhug vest from the occupational therapist and that has worked wonders, especially at dinner time in keeping him calm long enough to eat his dinner. Our local autism support service has recently come out to the school to see jack and they have identified that jack would definatly benefit from extra support i.e a helper brought in which im over the moon about i just need to keep on at them to get it put into place as soon as possible. They have said though due to his rigidity his helper will need to change to a different person quite often so jack does not become reliant on just one person, how they plan to do this i dont know as long as it is put into place thats all im bothered about. Im definatly looking to get him statemented, thats one of my main goals, as i have been made aware on so many occasions, without this, if you need to dispute something, you wont get anywhere without one. The school once had refused to bring in help from the educational psychologist but im hoping now that my local support service have identified that he does need the extra support, they will also be brought in to. I know its going to be a long process but im finally glad the ball is rolling now and were getting somewhere. Again, thankyou all for reading and commenting, means alot to know im not alone :)

[deleted account]

Emma, I can totally relate. Even though my son is in an actual "autism" class, he still had to learn to follow a schedule. What they taught me is something that I also use in his nursery school at church, and at home, and when I go on trips, etc.:
We use the TEACHH method. (BTW, my son loves to color and has to buy crayons everytime we go somewhere!) Many autism kids are very visual learners. If yours is, then he would benefit from this: it's all picture based. (They are called PECS, which stands for Picture exchange communication system). We laminated a card (and use velcro to change it out) one word with picture on a card with 4-5 "spots". This becomes his schedule. So let's say they start with "free play" then "story time", then "coloring" then "station work". It will help him transition from one activity to another if he knows what is going on (and when he gets to do his favorites). We also use a card with "first" and "then" followed with the pics. This really helped him with his freak outs. I also label the crap out of everything. When people come to my house, they initially think it's odd that I have words taped all over everything, but as soon as I explain that he's a visual learner, they think it's cool.
If you have an apple iPad, check out the Prologue 2go app (pricey but worth it), it works well with the PECS and TEACHH program.
I highly recommend it!
:)

Laura - posted on 09/21/2011

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My son will be 4 in December and we got an early start with preschool thanks to his pediatrician being really on top of the autism diagnosis. He had Early Intervention speech services from the time he turned 2 until he started public preschool with an IEP when he was almost 3. Thanks to him being a December baby, he is one of the older kids in his class so that helps also. Our public preschool is all special needs kids so after a year there his teacher recommended a private preschool so that he could be around typically developing kids. He still gets consultative services from the public program because of his IEP so it is the best of both worlds. If you son is high functioning like mine, that middle ground is tough. Like me you may not pay much attention to his quirks when you are alone, but around other typical kids the quirks seem to stand out. I too have been sad and shocked into realization at times when I see him struggle. If I were you, I would take advantage of all the public services you can get while still helping him ease into the typical world. Although they may need extra help, they still have to function in the real world and need to learn early what that world is all about. As a mom it can be heartbreaking to see your child struggle, but getting him into a classroom where he can learn and grow will help him. I wish you the best in your decisions.

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