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"The schools do not understand the characteristics of ASD..."

"My 8-year-old son has ASD and ADHD. The schools do not understand the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder, let alone recognize it. What do parents do to get the schools to help these kids; they do have rights!"


You, the parent, need to educate your child's teacher. Use the following information as a start:

Tips for teachers re: "understanding ASD characteristics":

Teaching a youngster with ASD (high-functioning autism) can seem daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the disorder. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are about to teach a student with ASD, understanding the syndrome is your best preparation.

Kids on the spectrum tend to have normal or above-normal intelligence and high verbal skills, though they may have a hard time expressing their thoughts. As younger kids, they may show the ability to focus on one task for a long period of time, but they typically do not understand sarcasm, innuendo, or double meaning and have a hard time reading body language and social clues. Teachers are more likely to see boys rather than girls with the disorder.

Kids with autism may have a very specific and even obsessive interest, such as baseball statistics, trains, or dinosaurs. If a youngster in your class is interested in a particular subject, incorporating it into your teaching, when appropriate, can help keep him focused on the lesson.
 

Following the "Rules"—

Because many kids with ASD have difficulty with social interaction, they sometimes appear to be misbehaving when they don’t mean to be. Some kids do not realize that classroom rules apply to them. They may develop their own ‘rules’ and have a high demand to be perfect.

While some students with ASD can focus on one subject, you might find they have trouble concentrating in other areas. A visual cue, such as a yellow warning card placed on the desk for distracting behavior or personalized instructions for what to do during downtime can help keep a youngster focused.

As students grow older and school routines change, different tactics might help. One school used a peer educator to help the student with ASD. The peer educator would meet him at his locker in the morning, because he wouldn’t remember which book to bring. It helped cue him about what he needed to get together. Sitting the student next to compassionate students or kids with similar interests, such as baseball, improved the atmosphere.

Enlisting Peers—

Teaching your students about autism can help them handle with maturity and compassion the challenges classmates with the disorder can present. While many students may not grasp the concept of the autistic spectrum, they can understand that certain kids are more sensitive and need a bit of extra help. Some parents may choose to come have a discussion about ASD, while others may leave talking about people’s individual differences to the teachers. One class had a discussion about differences and bullying, led by student council leaders, that helped include his student with ASD.

Kids at that age don’t understand disabilities unless they’re explained. It isn’t that he’s trying to be this way, it’s just the way he was born. They can relate in that way. I’m not even sure I used the word autism.

Helping your students understand ASD, or at least recognize some of its traits, will help them cope when they experience a meltdown. One teacher would often ask her student’s peer educator to help him calm down by walking with him. He just needed time to have a quieter environment where he could settle down and talk about what he’s upset about. It wasn’t easy for him to brush things off, but he could get control, come back, and be part of the group again.
 

Giving a youngster time to recompose—by sitting in a special “study desk” or talking to a counselor or teacher in the hall—can help get things back to normal. Ask what caused the meltdown: for a younger kid, it might be the texture of a pencil; an older kid may have felt flustered when the room got too chaotic. But be warned: Sometimes they may not be able to express what happened without a little digging on your part.

A tiny shift in environment can make a huge difference for kids with ASD. If you’re not sure just what tiny shift your environment needs, experts recommend talking to the parents, who will most likely know their youngster better than anyone else.

Keeping Good Communication—

Meeting with parents and kids separately before school starts, if possible, is one good way to transition into a new year. One teacher also shows the kids their desks, lockers, and the restroom. Expect that things might be a bit rough for a few weeks. Just like you’re getting to know your new students, they are trying to figure you out, too—while adjusting to a new schedule and new surroundings as well. Woods says that a positive change in the demeanor of a youngster with ASD typically happens after a few weeks, once they feel more comfortable in their setting.

Keeping the line of communication with parents open, be it through e-mail or notes sent home, can help them work together to provide a positive learning environment. The goal is to help kids with autism learn and be able to adapt socially, and teachers need to consider every way of reaching them.

Think outside the box and try different things. Find out what makes them tick.
 

Best Comment:

I feel like the worse parent in the world,  I have a 14 year old who was just recently diagnosed with ASD's. I have just started reading your blogs and I find them very informative.   I knew all along that it was Autism but every professional I went to just added another label.  It started with ADHD and sensory in kindergarten, then OCD, ODD (grade 1), Tourettes(grade 3), over anxious disorder, non verbal learning disorder, executive dysfunction Grade 7, and finally ASD in Grade 9.

Anyways a big problem for my son is anxiety.  I recognized this at a very early age, my son was a bed wetter up until the age of 8 and he would hide it from his father for fear that his father would be mad.  In Kindergarten and Grade 1 if my son had a bad day at school he was punished at home.  His father would take everything away.  A problem arose at school where my son would freak out afraid that the staff would tell his father.  The anxiety over getting in trouble was bigger than the actual behaviors.

When his father became physically abusive in Grade 3 I left.  I have been doing it on my own ever since.  I have lost my career as a teacher because I have had to miss so much time to attend to my son.  He always had a severe dislike of school.  In Grade 1 he would either run or fight.  If a staff member cornered him when he was upset he would physically lash out.  My son was restrained, locked in rubber rooms and more often sent home.

I would physically have to carry my son to school on several occasions but he quickly became too big.  The last time I forced him to go to school 3 years ago he jumped out of a moving car.  Now my days exist of pleading, bribing, reasoning, begging etc just to get him to school.  Some days he out right refuses to go , other days I get him to the parking lot and he cries hysterically.

On the days I get him to school he quite often is sent home, for refusing to do his work or for crying.  Other days he says he simply cannot handle it and leaves.

I have been fighting the school to get supports for my son.  Currently he is in a segregated classroom for 2 1/2 hours a day.  I don't think the lack of structure in this classroom is working,  there are always different people in and out.  I want an aid for my son to accompany him to the regular classroom. 
 

I have wrote a letter of appeal to the School board and the department of education as follows:

MORE COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Evan gives me a hard time about going to school but once we're out of the house he seems fine. He's only been to one party this year and it was for one of Sam's friends. Good luck with the party! I hope he has a good time smile emoticon
•    Anonymous said… Get an advocate........I volunteer as one where I live......schools give parents a rough time.....when they bring in someone who knows special ed law for the state......there's a whole different attitude......advocates are volunteers so there's no cost.......in an advocate and when my sons had meetings.....I took my own advocate..
•    Anonymous said… He actually does best with adults which is was one of the first red flags for his teacher. He for the most part is content to sit quietly by himself. His grades are excellent and he works ahead of most of his class. Anonymous said… I am another parent who eventually gave up on our public schools in 4th grade. We have a virtual charter school program, which is public, but all online at home. Now in 10th grade, headed to early college classes to finish high school. Brilliant techie! He will always be quirky, but not disabled in the way the schools tried to define him. Play to their strengths-- and always, always be on your child's side, you know them best
•    Anonymous said… I am reading some amazing books. A friend of mine also has me started with using essential oil blends, they do help. I just found a couple of these groups recently. But, knowing what I know now makes it a lot easier in communicating more effectively with him. I will definitely let you know if I find one locally.
•    Anonymous said… I am still all new to this thinking my son was only ADHD. I am awaiting confirmation from the doctor. But, everything I have read are characteristics of my sons behaviors. Still trying to find a support group.
•    Anonymous said… I am trying to find this puffy that you can make at home with Evan. I am going to try it tonight. It is supposed to be very good for sensory issues. But, it is something for everyone.
•    Anonymous said… I don't know how or what laws are in place in different states,but my son was in a charter school since kindergarten until the beginning of 4th grade I knew he had Aspergers very early but he didn't get fully diagnosed until last year .Then he finally received an IEP plan .The charter school wasn't equipped with people that were empathetic to my sons learning issues and it was too much of a lax environment.I moved to a different county and home schooled for a few months but he hated it,it wasn't structured enough for him.So his first time in public school was a few months ago and lucky he got into a school that deals with IEP's regularly so he loves school. You have to definitely advocate for your kid/s to get an IEP or 504 plan by law in CA the schools have to abide by it or find a school that will and provide transportation as well to and from the school willing to work with your child.It's a process but it's worth it in the end.It's ridiculous that there are teachers that treat kids like ours like they are bad or not willing to listen.SMH why teach? My son had an evil fourth grade teacher that would laugh at his nervous movements.I reported her but the charter school did nothing.Now his teacher is a straight gift from the teacher god's! Lol I just wish schools would be more empathetic towards our kids.
•    Anonymous said… I know exactly how you feel. No problem!
•    Anonymous said… I pulled my son out of public school. He was being bullied by the kids and the teachers. He is homeschooled now, and he loves it.
•    Anonymous said… It's been frustrating because we've been saying for 2 years that we thought Ev had Aspergers and no one would listen. His kindergarten teacher is AMAZING and she mentioned it to me after doing research on her own. She helped us get the ball rolling.
•    Anonymous said… I've been looking at psychologists for Ev to maybe get him help with socializing at school. That's where he has the most trouble
•    Anonymous said… Let me know how it turns out. I need to find stuff to keep them occupied next week. We're gonna take them to the Museum next week. They have a Lego exhibit and all 3 of them enjoy Legos
•    Anonymous said… My 10 year old sons school ( bardfield primary) didn't understand my sons needs and didn't want him there, wanted me to change he's school so took him out of school all together an home tutoring him now, best move I made
•    Anonymous said… oh dear my two boys have asd and i see its so common that some.of our kids dont manage to finish school frown emoticon xx
•    Anonymous said… Oh, I know... And the sooner it is caught the sooner intervention can start. Let me guess he gets along with kids either younger or older. But, just doesn't mesh with his peers. Easily frustrated switching tasks.
•    Anonymous said… Reading all these problems gob smack me .Its the same as our grandson .He told us that he lives in a different world to other people and if he could write it all down everything would be just fine .He likes one on one no interferance from any one .He wont go to school either and in NZ only one doctor who can access the mind of children with asperges and she has gone private .So the people who dont have the money get shoved at the back of the line.
•    Anonymous said… Same here we now home educated all four kids. My two boys with autism were 5 and 7 and I couldn't allow school to fail them further. I'd tried two schools with my 7 year old the first was appalling the second better but just not equipped to manage and I noticed they started to belittle them. I now have different boys they are so much happier. To be honest my 9 year old is much happier too and my youngest will never experience school. I wish I'd never but them in school.
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like Evan. Breaks my heart daily. I'll look them up. Thank you!
•    Anonymous said… They never understood mine? Don't believe me? Ask LISD from the 80s, 90s, and early 00s. Social Media had came back to haunt them in NTX area.
•    Anonymous said… Unfortunately the reason the schools are not recognising these conditions. Is that there is very little training for the teachers around this. Keep pushing the schools. I take information about Autism and Adhd and give it to the teacher's.
•    Anonymous said… Yep. Hopefully, you can get some things in place during the summer. The girls like my son but the boys tease him a lot. I am letting him go to a birthday party next Friday. I think he is excited because it is Jaks Warehouse.
•    Anonymous said… Yep. There is a new one at St. Margarets Dyer. Her name is Ashlyn and she is great!!! She is actually the only person that connected the dots for Riese. Just waiting for clinical diagnosis.

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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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