This morning I am off to observe a Special Day Class for my 8 year old who has autism. It has been a very long road to get to the point we are at now. He is in second grade and we have been fighting schools since he was 18 months. In his short academic career he has had 3 formal suspensions and 4 expulsions. To say the least it has been a roller coaster of emotions, worry, fear and frustration.
We constantly have had to fight for him, fight for more testing and solutions and results. Unless you have been there, there is no way to explain the type of pain that you feel when your baby is told he doesn't fit in and that he can't come back. Just this Tuesday we finally received the formal prognosis and his IEP shows now that he qualifies as Autistic.
I have been saying for years that he needed a one-on-one aid, however with budget cuts the likelihood of that happening is nil to none. Our next avenue is the option of the day school. He would be in a much smaller classroom, one tailored for his individual needs.
When my son first started Kindergarten he was recognized to have the potential to be an outstanding student. He was above grade level in many subjects, especially math. As time went by his behaviors caused problems. He was sent out of the class often and sent to the office, he was suspended or we had to come and sit in the class with him in order for him to stay in the room. All the missing class time resulted in falling grades, learning gaps and eventually frustration for him when he was expected to know what the rest of the class knew. He was also overly stimulated in the large classroom with 32 students. He often had a hard time sitting in his seat, he would spin or walk in circles when he was overly frustrated or climb under his desk and cry. He has been picked on and singled out as a "bad kid."
Sometimes I wish I just had a big t-shirt that I could put on him that said, "I HAVE AUTISM" so that people would stop looking at him the way they do, they just see him as being rude and bad mannered, a bully. But I don't see that. I see a boy who really struggles to make sense of this world and it breaks my heart.
The funny thing is that he has such a unique character. He is funny, he can make you laugh, sometimes you forget you're talking to an 8 year old. He wants to please and lead and be a helper. When people stop and really get to know him they develop a real love for him. I wish the world could see him the way that I do.
We have two weeks to decide if he will be switched. I'm looking for a school that is going to foster his individuality, help him to become independent, help develop peer relationships and an environment where he isn't singled out as "bad." Most importantly I want a teacher that wont give up on him. We have been through teacher and teacher and few actually have really created a bond with him where they actual love him as a person.