In light of recent comments, I thought it might be time to do a post that re-introduces The Boy and his issues to this audience. The Boy was diagnosed with classic autism at the age of five. Although he has a fairly high IQ, and is a generally bright boy, he was not diagnosed with Asperger’s because he did have developmental delays, and was in speech and occupational therapy starting at the age of two. He has since “graduated” from OT, and now has speech therapy in the form of working on pragmatic social skills once a week with the speech therapist at school.
In his new school, the pilot program for which we switched schools has organizational periods for the kids on the spectrum at the beginning and end of the day. They meet with the autism teacher and aides who help them get organized for the day in the morning, and help them get organized before they head home. He also has a social skills class with his autism teacher. Ideally, he would be interacting with other 6th graders on the spectrum, but he is the only 6th grader in the program, currently, so they spend some time on social skills, and some time on homework and organizational skills during this period. He is also allowed to eat his lunch in his autism teacher’s room. This is his safe haven.
The Boy has issues with executive functioning, verbalizing his needs (as well as verbalizing anything having to do with school, like assignments and tests), and gets overwhelmed by his senses at times. He has issues with processing speed, and can get overwhelmed with assignments that require a lot of writing. He has the requisite deficits in social and organizational skills, as well.
Per his IEP, he is to receive extended time on assignments and tests, sensory breaks as needed, modified assignments and tests, use of graphic organizers, testing in small groups in a separate setting, use of a word processor, and use of visual work systems (visual cards that will cue him as to what to do next, and when the next break is) in all classes.
His teachers do not send home much homework, which helps us, because like most kids with autism, he has a very great antipathy for it. Logically, schoolwork should be done at school, rather than at home, and it just doesn’t make sense to him to have to do work at home. When we do have homework, we break it into chunks that we can do from 15-30 minutes at a time, and then we take a break, sometimes with an incentive (m&ms work wonders), before we get back to work again.
Most of the teachers at his new school get it. They are willing to teach him according to how he learns. They are patient and understanding, and willing to listen to suggestions. We are very lucky, and I am so glad I was able to work so hard to get him placed in this school. It has meant a world of difference to The Boy. He is happier, I think, because he is more understood.
I communicate with his teachers as needed, and never too much. I do not get in their faces when there is an issue. I offer suggestions when they are asked for. I work with my son on his schoolwork and practicing whenever he has it.
My son has special needs. My son has rights. My son has patient and understanding teachers (mostly). My son has me.