how do you deal with sending your Autistic child to school for the first time?

Ashley - posted on 08/12/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Well my daughter is about to turn 3 in October and she will start to go to a special needs class because she has Autism. I am completely scared about sending her to school. I am not sure how to handle it. Is it normal for me to want to be there holding her hand all day long and not leave her side? I know this will be good for her but I am afraid she wont be able to handle it...Any advice??

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Melanie - posted on 08/12/2010

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Hey Ashley! What you are feeling is completely normal! My daughter was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at age 3. She has been going to a Special Needs Pre-K since then. I was so scared to let go of her as well. I was scared to think of how she would do away from me with her condition. I was scared for her- because I knew she was scared. I was scared that other kids would give her a hard time, cuz she is very quite and wont defend herself. She was almost completely non-verbal at the time. I wanted to be there in case she needed mommy for whatever reason. I cried probably the first couple months- every day that I would drop her off. And she cried too. It absolutely tore my heart out. BUT, she adjusted and has absolutely done wonderful! She has been going since she was 3. Started out as half day programs three days a week. Then went to half day programs 5 days a week. Now she goes to all day Pre-K, where she is in the special needs pre-k in the am and a regular pre-k in the pm. Now remember she was almost completely non-verbal, she is now making full sentences and expressing herself in ways I never thought she would. (some good and some bad- lol) I know believe she will be ready to start Kindegarten next fall with hopefully no special needs assistance. It is excruciating for us mommies to send our so delicate little ones off, but it has done wonders for my little angel. I am now a firm believer that me starting her early is what has made the difference therefore making it possible for her to start Kindegarten at the normal age. My daughter loves it so much now that I told her today that tomorrow was Friday so she goes to school tomorrow then she gets to stay home Saturday and Sunday. And explained that she doesnt go to school on Saturday and Sunday and she got upset:) As hard as it may be to send her to school- I really think it will do her a world of difference. You will be amazed at her improvement!. Our precious little ones just need an extra boost to get them going:) Also, every class that my daughter has been in has been very very open to parental involvement.They said anytime I wanted to come sit in the class was more than welcome to. I wish you the best of luck! Its not easy- but we have to look out for our little ones and what will be best for them. I hoped I helped some! If you ever want to chat- send me a message!

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Elena - posted on 08/13/2010

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Hi Ashley, please be brave. First of all you need to take care of you. It is very scary what you are going through right now but it will pass. My daughter is 11 right now so i feel like a veteran giving advice but in reality i just want to give you a hug and tell you to breath. much love elena

Jody - posted on 08/13/2010

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I felt the same way sending my son to an AI preschool at the age of 3, but it was the BEST thing could've done. He blossomed very quickly there. He said 2 words when he started & 25 within 3 months. He started with half days, but did so well & loved it so much that he was going 5 full days within a month. Hang in there!

Shauna - posted on 08/13/2010

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jace never went to a special needs preschool he did just fine in the reg classes with an aide he has started playing with other kids an making friends becus of preschool so trust me it is the best thing that cud ever happen to her she will love it an i worried alot but in time ur worries will settle wen u see how much she loves it an remember they r completely different for others he was so good at school so different it was a very good enviroment for him

Shauna - posted on 08/13/2010

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hey how r u well my son jace is autistic got diagnosed wen he waas 2 now he turnin 5 an goin into kindrgarten he has done preschool the past 2 years an soooo loved it normal for u to worry but as long as they gna provide an aide for her dont worry preschool waas the best thing ever for jace she is gna love it

Lindsay - posted on 08/13/2010

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Ashley, you are certainly not alone in your worries! My son, now 5, started nursery at 3 and we spent the first six months with him crying as I left. It's not nice at all. In fact heartbreaking, but knowing that he settled, and knowing that it was all doing SO much good for him made it bearable. I used to phone, or they would send me a text to let me know he'd settled which helped me stop worrying the whole time he was there for! But now, at 5, he love school! We walk to school with some older children and he keeps trying to tell me that he doesn't need me any more, he could take himself to school! Do you know, he would too! It's so much of a routine that I know he wouldn't break it, but I obviously take him nonetheless!
One trick we found worked at one point was for me to start him on an activity and once he was absorbed and focussed I would gently slip away, but that doesn't work with all children as some then panic as to where you have gone as there was no clear goodbye. But it worked with him, so I went with it!
Hope it all goes well! Just remember that sending them to school does them SO much good, it will get easier, and it is worth it in the end! But never let them see you upset (well, try your hardest not too! There were days when I had to claim the wind had made my eyes water!!)
xx

Stephanie - posted on 08/13/2010

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My autistic twins have blossomed at a mainstream preschool - and despite a few upsets over the last couple of years, they are walking, have some words and even share a friend! Their manners have improved and they are joining in games and have learned to share. It is worth all the worry I suffered putting them in there . . . and now one of my boys has been cleared to start mainstream school with a teacher aide on the 30th of this month. I have got a bottle of bourbon and am back to practising deep breaths! The panic is so there, but to hold them back from anything new would only make me happy and slow them up even more. As a result of facing challenges like this my guys can ride bikes, ponies and have the confidence to try and talk to people and make friends. Every step has been a challenge but it is so worth it in the end :) Good Luck

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