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Does Autism = Public School? (high-functioning child)


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I think we are finally convinced that our 5-yr. old son may be on the autism spectrum. We have not gone for a diagnosis or anything yet but I'm scared they will tell me I need to enroll him in FT public school for therapy.

 

I've been committed to homeschooling since he was 18 months old. We just formally started this year and he is doing fine at home. Following the Well-Trained Mind recommendations, he has learned reading and writing.

 

If he needs therapy, of course free is wonderful but obviously there are numerous drawbacks to the PS system and that's why we don't want our kids there. I also think the one-on-one method homeschooling provides keeps his attention much better than a public school would.

 

Does a child with autism HAVE to be in PS? Are there families here who HS their child with autism?

 

Please help, I'm a total newbie.

:grouphug:

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We have at least 3 families with children on-spectrum in our homeschool group, and most of them tried the public system and discovered that it simply wasn't working-that they could do better at home.

 

The developmental team says my DD is "gifted with overexcitabilities", but I'm still not convinced she's not on spectrum somewhere-so much about Aspergers fits her, and so many of the suggestions for kids with aspergers help her.

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Does a child with autism HAVE to be in PS? Are there families here who HS their child with autism?

 

 

 

Of course not, and yes - lots! :)

 

(I actually think that a public school environment is, most of the time, the WORST place for any kid with special needs…)

 

Our son has autism on his list of challenges, but he also has a lot more stuff going on - he's considered "profoundly disabled" and will never be able to live independently, as he needs assistance with his basic daily living - so I'm not really someone who can suggest specific materials and things here for you, but I've seen lots of other ladies discussing what they use with their mainly/solely autistic/aspie kids and I'm sure they'll chime in here shortly.

 

I'll ask you this though - who knows your son (and his needs) better than YOU? ;)

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Guest momk2000

Absolutely not.

Our dd was dx'd with PDD-NOS at the age of 9. At the time we had many "concerned" folks (both prof. counselors, family and friends) try to convince us that she should really be in PS. For the first time I felt guilty for homeschooling. We came real close to trying PS, but went with our gut feeling instead. Dd has never attended PS and is doing wonderfully. In my opinion, there is no better place than home. When dd is having trouble focusing, or just needs to talk through her anxiety, etc... I am right there. We sit down and talk it through for as long as it takes, and then she goes back to work. Sometimes she just needs to take a break and will do some art, play outside, listen to music and dance. She has all the flexibility she needs and still gets all of her work done. She participates in plenty of outside activities, and is not isolated from other children.

No matter what anyone else tells you, it is ultimately your decision.

I would have him evaluated by a specialist. They can help you determine if he needs special services. Even if he does not attend ps, he may qualify for services through the ps system. Our dd has received speech therapy through our local ps.

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No, We home school our three sons - all on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum - because of it.

 

Classrooms are not kind to kids with the sensory issues that usually go along with HFA. They need more individualized instruction based on their own skill set - strong in some areas - weaker in others. Home school is a great way to accomplish that.

 

I won't go into the unmitigated disaster that our boys public school careers were. I'll just say our family stress level is much less now than it was then.

 

You can do this!:)

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No, absolutely not! I'm homeschooling a boatload of Aspies at my house. We do private therapy for several different issues and our insurance pays for almost everything. Not all Aspies NEED therapy though. Some can get by with home-based intervention provided by the parents. Not sure if your son is Aspie or HFA or what though..

 

I would recommend getting that diagnosis.. The psychologist who diagnosed my two younger girls told me that it's a good thing I homeschool because my youngest daughter (now 7) would not be able to function in a typical classroom setting. She was diagnosed at age 5.

 

The doctors who are not exactly "for" homeschooling usually keep their mouths shut about their opinions. We have seen several specialists and psychologists over the years and not one has suggested that I put my kids in public school.

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We homeschool our ds primarily because public school was so disastrous for him. We were fortunate to still be able to access therapy services through the school too, but I know that's not an option everywhere. We have decided, though, that being homeschooled has done a LOT more for him than any of the therapies through the school. But then, I have friends whose autistic kids seem to be doing very well in the public school system. I think what is best often depends on the specific strengths and challenges of each individual child.

 

You might be told by some people that school is the ONLY place for an autistic child. There are definitely some people out there who believe that. Most of the time when I meet them I ask them why they feel that way. Then I say, "Those are some really good points. May I explain some of the reasons we made a different choice?" Usually if I hear them out first they are willing to listen, AND I know how to target my arguments. Generally by the time I'm done with them they either say they can see our point too, or they fall back on a sort of stubborn, 'well, that's what I think and I'm sure you're wrong even if I can't see how just how' kind of attitude, in which case I can suggest that we will have to just agree to disagree, that I appreciate them sharing their perspective with me, and that I hope they can see that our choice was well thought-out and not made frivolously, even if they can't agree with it.

 

And then life goes on. I'm still his mother, and I still get to make the decisions. I even get to decide whether I want to hire snarky people to provide therapy services. Even if the school offers a particular service you are not legally required to accept it. There's a form you can sign to waive any specific service offered, or the whole shebang if you want to. You are in charge. You are the primary expert on your specific child. The rest of the 'team' works for YOU. Be a gracious boss, but be the boss.

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Our school district seems to offer very little therapy for autism. My 3 yo son is on the autism spectrum and he only receives speech through the school district. The school district refuses to offer him any OT services despite him having numerous issues. They say they don't interfere with his classroom performance. The only thing they've offered is to have him sit in a cube style chair because of his low trunk support. :glare: We just got ds's psych and OT testing from the school district a few weeks ago and both were poorly done. Once we got the reports we immediately scheduled private evals for ds. All the school district did was cause us to lose 3 months because we thought the school evals would be better done and cause ds to get more services.

 

I have such mixed emotions about leaving him in public school. Right now he is in a class of 10 kids (5 typical, 5 special needs) with 1 teacher and 3 aides. Once he gets thrown into a Kindergarten class of 25 other kids I'm not sure how I'll feel. He may be offered a one on one aide which could possibly affect our decision. I've said as long as it is working for him that he will stay but I really can't see how he will function well in a large class setting. Plus K here is full day and ds needs lots of outside therapy I can't see figuring out how to schedule it if he was in school all day. I'm sure he'd be too tired at the end of the day to do much therapy. He only goes for 2.5 hours a day right now for Pre-K. I've also heard of just horrible treatment of special needs children at the middle school and high school I don't think I would put ds in just to get therapy. I've found I'm generally happier with private therapy anyway. Ds's speech teacher at the school finally sent me a half page typed of what she's been working on with ds for the past 2 months. Most of it talked about how difficult he was to work with and how we should be trying to get him to talk more at home. I really found it not helpful at all. She didn't even bother showing for ds's conference so I still haven't met her. Contrast that with the private OT ds receives and there is no comparison. I may have to pay $40 for the OT sessions but I actually get to talk with OT regularly and she shows me exercises to do with ds at home. I'm kind of glad the school declined to offer OT because I know he's getting a lot better care from his private OT.

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We are in the same position as Amy in the post above. Right now DS is in public school pre-k in a class with 6 special ed kids and 10 regular ed kids. He received speech last year but did not need it this year. His major issues are sensory and our district does not provide OT for sensory issues since "they don't impact educational performance." Are ya kidding me? He gets OT for fine motor skills, but I do more at home with him than the OT does at school. He goes twice a week for therapy at a private clinic. He does wonderful in this small class now with a special ed and regular ed teacher, but when he gets to kindergarten in 2012 with 32 kids and just a regular ed teacher I think it will just be setting him up for constant failure. We are almost certain that we will begin homeschooling then. For now I think it's good he's with his peers. They don't care and they aren't judgemental. But once he gets to K and 1st grade I think they will start to notice he is a little bit different not to mention the major sensory overload.

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Hi,

 

I was a committed homeschooler until reality set in. I have a five year old boy with autism. He's also high functioning. My son's great behaviorist and his developmental pediatrician asked "What's the goal for him?" It's a good question. I teach him at home. We do HWT and we're starting singapore math, and AAS. But what I can't get done at home is what he needs most. He needs to learn how to manage status rivalries, negotiate group dynamics, understand social norms, and navigate the distinction between self and group. This cannot be taught by me or any other adult. The best place to learn, if he's high functioning, is by modeling typical peers. Now if you have a peer group he can play with every day and become part of their community, he can learn to negotiate a group dynamic and be home schooled. But we don't have that, so he goes to a small private prekindergarten with a para, who is being faded out next week. I was really skeptical when we were told to put him in a typical classroom. But the change has been remarkable, and his peers have made efforts to make him part of the class. That I wasn't expecting. When he walks in to the room in the morning, one girl takes his hand and reminds him to make his lunch choice. Another kid comes up to him when he's wearing his spiderman shirt, because my little one is obsessed, and says "I wore my shirt today, is it cool?" The outreach in a small class where everyone has to interact with each other is critical. Now if you're choice is homeschool or chaotic public school with a 25:1 ratio and no para, you might not have a good choice. Is there a coop you can join?

 

I'd just implore you to keep asking yourself how he's going to learn social skills, high functioning kids can academically learn, that's part of what makes them high functioning. The tough stuff is putting your efforts into their social weaknesses, like learning how to rough house without killing the other kids (we're working on it), how to take disappointment when someone won't take turns with you when you've asked in the nice way that makes everyone at home give you a turn (ego crushing disaster for a week), learning to accept when kids don't want to play with you, but do want to play with someone else (the girl of his tiny five year old dreams, another ego crusher), where is he going to pick this stuff up? If he's ever going to be independent and hold down a job he will need this more than math or reading. A large predictor of success in independent living, more than IQ, is the ability to internalize criticisms and change his own behavior and the ability to understand social cues. I try to keep the long term goals in mind when I'm tempted to sweat the fact that he can't remember what time of day we eat lunch in his DTT. Who cares, he has a community that values him, and for our guy that's way more important.

Edited by Ellie Snowshoe
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Hi,

 

I was a committed homeschooler until reality set in. I have a five year old boy with autism. He's also high functioning. My son's great behaviorist and his developmental pediatrician asked "What's the goal for him?" It's a good question. I teach him at home. We do HWT and we're starting singapore math, and AAS. But what I can't get done at home is what he needs most. He needs to learn how to manage status rivalries, negotiate group dynamics, understand social norms, and navigate the distinction between self and group. This cannot be taught by me or any other adult. The best place to learn, if he's high functioning, is by modeling typical peers. Now if you have a peer group he can play with every day and become part of their community, he can learn to negotiate a group dynamic and be home schooled. But we don't have that, so he goes to a small private prekindergarten with a para, who is being faded out next week. I was really skeptical when we were told to put him in a typical classroom. But the change has been remarkable, and his peers have made efforts to make him part of the class. That I wasn't expecting. When he walks in to the room in the morning, one girl takes his hand and reminds him to make his lunch choice. Another kid comes up to him when he's wearing his spiderman shirt, because my little one is obsessed, and says "I wore my shirt today, is it cool?" The outreach in a small class where everyone has to interact with each other is critical. Now if you're choice is homeschool or chaotic public school with a 25:1 ratio and no para, you might not have a good choice. Is there a coop you can join?

 

I'd just implore you to keep asking yourself how he's going to learn social skills, high functioning kids can academically learn, that's part of what makes them high functioning. The tough stuff is putting your efforts into their social weaknesses, like learning how to rough house without killing the other kids (we're working on it), how to take disappointment when someone won't take turns with you when you've asked in the nice way that makes everyone at home give you a turn (ego crushing disaster for a week), learning to accept when kids don't want to play with you, but do want to play with someone else (the girl of his tiny five year old dreams, another ego crusher), where is he going to pick this stuff up? If he's ever going to be independent and hold down a job he will need this more than math or reading. A large predictor of success in independent living, more than IQ, is the ability to internalize criticisms and change his own behavior and the ability to understand social cues. I try to keep the long term goals in mind when I'm tempted to sweat the fact that he can't remember what time of day we eat lunch in his DTT. Who cares, he has a community that values him, and for our guy that's way more important.

 

 

I think its wonderful that your son benefits socially from public school. Ours did not. They have learned social skills not from public school - where they were being bullied - but our church groups and local activities. They have social skills- it is not something that can only be learned in public school and for some kids it is the worst place to learn them.

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I think its wonderful that your son benefits socially from public school. Ours did not. They have learned social skills not from public school - where they were being bullied - but our church groups and local activities. They have social skills- it is not something that can only be learned in public school and for some kids it is the worst place to learn them.

:iagree:

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My personal viewpoint is that, if you are willing and able, then you should homeschool your autistic kiddo. My 12yo dd has Asperger's Syndrome and she does much better at home! We've run the gamut of school environments and at home works best. A whole day in a public/charter school is way too much stimulation for her and she's plain exhausted by the time she comes home from that environment. I refuse to put her in a large classroom setting again, until college or God gives me a bright, neon sign telling me otherwise! :D

 

Do what you know to be best for your child, regardless of what the 'experts' around you are saying. Only listen to the advice from those who have BTDT and know of that which they speak!

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Hi,

 

I was a committed homeschooler until reality set in.

 

I'd just implore you to keep asking yourself how he's going to learn social skills, high functioning kids can academically learn, that's part of what makes them high functioning. The tough stuff is putting your efforts into their social weaknesses, like learning how to rough house without killing the other kids (we're working on it), how to take disappointment when someone won't take turns with you when you've asked in the nice way that makes everyone at home give you a turn (ego crushing disaster for a week), learning to accept when kids don't want to play with you, but do want to play with someone else (the girl of his tiny five year old dreams, another ego crusher), where is he going to pick this stuff up? If he's ever going to be independent and hold down a job he will need this more than math or reading. A large predictor of success in independent living, more than IQ, is the ability to internalize criticisms and change his own behavior and the ability to understand social cues. I try to keep the long term goals in mind when I'm tempted to sweat the fact that he can't remember what time of day we eat lunch in his DTT. Who cares, he has a community that values him, and for our guy that's way more important.

 

I went with this mentality for my DD11 for 4 years, K-3rd. It became more and more of a struggle as she continued to remain unchallenged in most subjects, lost her interest in learning in school, began to have discipline problems because she wasn't interested in repeating something for the nth time, and began to be bullied and shunned because she could care less who American Girls were.

 

We tried a dual enrollment, part PS and part HS to bridge the gap and keep her in school for "social skill", she had an IEP written. After a year everyone agreed that it wasn't worthwhile, even her favorite teacher and her social worker both took me aside and suggested that she didn't need to be in school to learn social skills, so we pulled her out. Her sister is PDD-NOS, probably somewhere closer to AS, she has never gone to PS.

 

If it existed then it's sure I would have been labeled an Aspie. My school years were hell. :glare: I suffered from depression, became a bored underachiever, and had a miserable self esteem. The real world as an adult is much different than the dynamics of a classroom of 25 kids of the same age, which is the minimum in our PS. I will never be extremely social, it just isn't in my nature, but I have adapted very well.

 

We now work with a team, a pediatrician, a neuropsychologist who specializes in kids on the spectrum with IQ's greater than 135, a psychiatrist (although my DD isn't on any meds currenty she does take supplements), a speech therapist, and a social worker. My DD attends programs at the Y with other homeschoolers each week, attends summer camp, has been active in scouts, and continues to work on social skills without ruining her self esteem in the process. We evaluate where we are every six months and go from there.

 

I am really glad that PS is working for your child right now. That may or not may be the case in the future, and may or may not be the case for every student. :)

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I need to preface this by saying that I think it is WONDERFUL that school is working for Ellie's son. Hooray! That's AWESOME! I'm a big fan of doing what works.

 

BUT.

 

I was a committed public schooler until reality set in.

 

Our ds was in school from kindergarten through third grade. Academically it was boring for ds to the point where one of the things that was suggested was to bump him up a grade. We decided, though, that he was struggling so much socially that putting him in with kids who were that much older wouldn't be good for him either. I thought about homeschooling as an option, but was intimidated by the idea, and everyone on the IEP team flung up their hands and said, "NO! He MUST be in school for the socialization! Autistic kids really struggle with learning social skills, and if you homeschool him he will never have normal social skills because school is the only place for him to learn them. He HAS to be around his peers, and because he is autistic he needs it more than most."

 

So we kept him in, with a on-on-one technician in the classroom, and many other helpful and appropriate accommodations and therapies, for four years. It started out rocky and went downhill from there. I watched my son's love for learning drilled, reviewed, and bored out of him, and a violent hatred for anything that even "smelled" like academics seep in to replace it. I watched as his mental stability deteriorated and his anxiety increased to levels that began to border on suicidal. I watched as his behavior spun increasingly out of control, and he withdrew further and further into himself. He stopped smiling. He stopped laughing.

 

We considered every alternate placement the school system had to offer. None of them were appropriate, and our IEP team agreed. We considered private schooling, but that would still be a typical classroom setting and would still present pretty much the exact same stressors for him, probably with a reduced amount of special education support. We worried about taking him out of a classroom setting and homeschooling him because "they" kept telling us it was essential if he was ever going to learn to interact with others "normally". (And also, if a whole team of "professionals" couldn't make it work, who was I to think I could do any better all alone at home with my art degree?)

 

Which is when "reality" set in for me. I realized that

 

A) My son is autistic--he's never going to have 100% "normal" social skills, no matter where he is educated, his brain is just not wired that way. He might learn to fake it pretty well, being a high functioning kind of guy and all, but he's never going to be "normal". And it's silly and a bit cruel to try to squash him into that box by force.

 

B) Autistic children, as I kept reading in every study I could find that dealt with the subject, do not learn social skills by observing and interacting with their peers. They do need to PRACTICE social skills by interacting with other people, but they LEARN those skills best through explicit instruction. Typical children learn social skills from peer modeling, but autistic children, in general (when dealing with autism there are exceptions for every generalization) just are not wired that way. He wasn't learning social skills from being in a classroom any more than he would have learned trigonometry just from being in a trigonometry classroom all day. It was just confusing and frightening and nobody was TEACHING the social skills, they were just scolding him (in the case of the adults) or mocking him (in the case of the children) when he did something wrong. There was a "social skills class" that he went to in the resource room, but it was geared toward children who were much lower function than he was, and there was a school psychologist who was supposed to be helping him learn social skills, but she was obsessed with "anger management techniques", which she thought would help with his panic attacks (because I could never convince her it was an anxiety issue more than an anger issue--she had the psychology degree, and I was 'just' a Mom).

 

C) IF school was a good place for him to learn social skills, then logically his social skills would have improved over the four years he was there. By any objective measure his social skills gotten WORSE, not better.

 

D) Even if he learned to function socially in a school environment, he would then graduate from school and be dumped into the "real world" of adults with whole new set of social skills to learn and nobody to teach them to him.

 

and

 

E) At home we could explicitly teach social skills at the appropriate level for him, focusing on whichever specific skills were most important for what was currently happening in his life. We could talk about it, read about it, role-play it, discuss variations based on different scenarios, and then we could find opportunities to practice those social skills IN THE REAL WORLD. He could associate with groups of peers in non-school activities for shorter periods of time that weren't so overwhelming, and then we could talk about what went well, what had been confusing, and so forth, and strategize for next time. But ALSO, he could begin learning the kinds of social skills he will need as an adult in an adult social world.

 

He is now thirteen and we are finishing up our 5th year of homeschooling. He can speak comfortably and confidently with waiters, store clerks, information desk staff, librarians, museum docents, ticket sales agents, post office employees, bank tellers (he opened his own checking and savings accounts and is managing them himself--very responsibly, I might add), groundskeepers, and so forth. If he were still in school most of that would be either theoretical or limited to the occasional weekend errands with Mom. Because we're homeschooling, he can go out and practice these skills in real settings, with real people. He can order his own meals at a restaurant, even with requests for reasonable adjustments to menu items. He knows how to get help finding something he needs at a store (not to mention doing a decent job of price and quality comparison). And he's becoming quite the little charmer.

 

He still struggles with peer relationships, though. Would you like to guess why? Primarily because he was in school for so long. He has some post-traumatic stress issues related to school. Certain school-like settings can trigger flashbacks and panic attacks. When he has to be around a large group of kids he retreats back into himself and it really takes a lot of effort for him to make himself talk to them, or even look at them, because school was so overwhelming it conditioned him to respond this way. Not that the people at school were "bad" or "negligent" or anything, we had WONDERFUL, supportive people working with us. It was just that the setting was so entirely incompatible with his nervous system that it literally traumatized the poor guy. Seeing how far he's come, and how fast, and seeing the damage that was done, I deeply regret not taking him out earlier. I am very sorry that I listened to the "professionals" instead of my own gut when it came to the best way to teach this particular child social skills. No, he's probably never going to socialize "normally". But he's a whole lot better OUT of school than he was IN it.

 

I do know and appreciate that different children will have different experiences with this. But peer modeling is definitely not the only, or even the best, way for autistic children to learn social skills.

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I need to preface this by saying that I think it is WONDERFUL that school is working for Ellie's son. Hooray! That's AWESOME! I'm a big fan of doing what works.

 

BUT.

 

I was a committed public schooler until reality set in.

 

Our ds was in school from kindergarten through third grade. Academically it was boring for ds to the point where one of the things that was suggested was to bump him up a grade. We decided, though, that he was struggling so much socially that putting him in with kids who were that much older wouldn't be good for him either. I thought about homeschooling as an option, but was intimidated by the idea, and everyone on the IEP team flung up their hands and said, "NO! He MUST be in school for the socialization! Autistic kids really struggle with learning social skills, and if you homeschool him he will never have normal social skills because school is the only place for him to learn them. He HAS to be around his peers, and because he is autistic he needs it more than most."

 

So we kept him in, with a on-on-one technician in the classroom, and many other helpful and appropriate accommodations and therapies, for four years. It started out rocky and went downhill from there. I watched my son's love for learning drilled, reviewed, and bored out of him, and a violent hatred for anything that even "smelled" like academics seep in to replace it. I watched as his mental stability deteriorated and his anxiety increased to levels that began to border on suicidal. I watched as his behavior spun increasingly out of control, and he withdrew further and further into himself. He stopped smiling. He stopped laughing.

 

We considered every alternate placement the school system had to offer. None of them were appropriate, and our IEP team agreed. We considered private schooling, but that would still be a typical classroom setting and would still present pretty much the exact same stressors for him, probably with a reduced amount of special education support. We worried about taking him out of a classroom setting and homeschooling him because "they" kept telling us it was essential if he was ever going to learn to interact with others "normally". (And also, if a whole team of "professionals" couldn't make it work, who was I to think I could do any better all alone at home with my art degree?)

 

Which is when "reality" set in for me. I realized that

 

A) My son is autistic--he's never going to have 100% "normal" social skills, no matter where he is educated, his brain is just not wired that way. He might learn to fake it pretty well, being a high functioning kind of guy and all, but he's never going to be "normal". And it's silly and a bit cruel to try to squash him into that box by force.

 

B) Autistic children, as I kept reading in every study I could find that dealt with the subject, do not learn social skills by observing and interacting with their peers. They do need to PRACTICE social skills by interacting with other people, but they LEARN those skills best through explicit instruction. Typical children learn social skills from peer modeling, but autistic children, in general (when dealing with autism there are exceptions for every generalization) just are not wired that way. He wasn't learning social skills from being in a classroom any more than he would have learned trigonometry just from being in a trigonometry classroom all day. It was just confusing and frightening and nobody was TEACHING the social skills, they were just scolding him (in the case of the adults) or mocking him (in the case of the children) when he did something wrong. There was a "social skills class" that he went to in the resource room, but it was geared toward children who were much lower function than he was, and there was a school psychologist who was supposed to be helping him learn social skills, but she was obsessed with "anger management techniques", which she thought would help with his panic attacks (because I could never convince her it was an anxiety issue more than an anger issue--she had the psychology degree, and I was 'just' a Mom).

 

C) IF school was a good place for him to learn social skills, then logically his social skills would have improved over the four years he was there. By any objective measure his social skills gotten WORSE, not better.

 

D) Even if he learned to function socially in a school environment, he would then graduate from school and be dumped into the "real world" of adults with whole new set of social skills to learn and nobody to teach them to him.

 

and

 

E) At home we could explicitly teach social skills at the appropriate level for him, focusing on whichever specific skills were most important for what was currently happening in his life. We could talk about it, read about it, role-play it, discuss variations based on different scenarios, and then we could find opportunities to practice those social skills IN THE REAL WORLD. He could associate with groups of peers in non-school activities for shorter periods of time that weren't so overwhelming, and then we could talk about what went well, what had been confusing, and so forth, and strategize for next time. But ALSO, he could begin learning the kinds of social skills he will need as an adult in an adult social world.

 

He is now thirteen and we are finishing up our 5th year of homeschooling. He can speak comfortably and confidently with waiters, store clerks, information desk staff, librarians, museum docents, ticket sales agents, post office employees, bank tellers (he opened his own checking and savings accounts and is managing them himself--very responsibly, I might add), groundskeepers, and so forth. If he were still in school most of that would be either theoretical or limited to the occasional weekend errands with Mom. Because we're homeschooling, he can go out and practice these skills in real settings, with real people. He can order his own meals at a restaurant, even with requests for reasonable adjustments to menu items. He knows how to get help finding something he needs at a store (not to mention doing a decent job of price and quality comparison). And he's becoming quite the little charmer.

 

He still struggles with peer relationships, though. Would you like to guess why? Primarily because he was in school for so long. He has some post-traumatic stress issues related to school. Certain school-like settings can trigger flashbacks and panic attacks. When he has to be around a large group of kids he retreats back into himself and it really takes a lot of effort for him to make himself talk to them, or even look at them, because school was so overwhelming it conditioned him to respond this way. Not that the people at school were "bad" or "negligent" or anything, we had WONDERFUL, supportive people working with us. It was just that the setting was so entirely incompatible with his nervous system that it literally traumatized the poor guy. Seeing how far he's come, and how fast, and seeing the damage that was done, I deeply regret not taking him out earlier. I am very sorry that I listened to the "professionals" instead of my own gut when it came to the best way to teach this particular child social skills. No, he's probably never going to socialize "normally". But he's a whole lot better OUT of school than he was IN it.

 

I do know and appreciate that different children will have different experiences with this. But peer modeling is definitely not the only, or even the best, way for autistic children to learn social skills.

 

This was so good I had to quote it in its entirety.

 

:grouphug:

 

This sounds so much like our experiences. My middle son still has anxiety about it. My oldest is still learning phobic.

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Wow, apparently I didn't make my point. I wasn't advocating for public school. My guy isn't in public school, he's at a private, 8:1 pre-k, no IEP, no social worker, no nothing, just a paraprofessional and great teachers and a good deal of money. The reality that set in was MY reality, not anyone else's. What I was trying to get across is that while a high functioning child might flourish academically at home, they've been shown to do better with a safe community of typical peers to interact and play with. Unstructured play with peers in an invaluable tool for development. High functioning kids do model peer behavior, but they often don't learn appropriate social signals. Of course they're never going to be typical, they're autistic. But using the problems that come up as an opportunity to teach solutions is part of the process (like the problems I mentioned he had this year). That's why we do social stories about turn taking, and being a space invader, and act it out, and the whole nine yards. This is not available to everyone via school. I explicitly said if the room is not appropriate, Homeschooling would be a better choice. Bullying is not tolerated at his school and the parents are ubersupportive. I know we've been lucky. But if he didn't have this school, we'd fulfill that need for play in another way, like a homeschool coop, which I did ask if it was an option.

 

I'd never tell anyone where to place their kid, I have no idea if the teacher is any good, if the kids are accepting, if the parents are supportive. But I would point out that Madison, WI has a school system that integrates all children so successfully that their disabled student rate is over 18% because people are flocking from all over the country (great new york times article if you care to google it) to get their children enrolled and have their kids treated with dignity and respect. Charlotte, NC also integrates with really good results. So the concept of "school" itself is not necessarily the problem. What is the goal for schooling? My point was: school isn't all about academics, play is important to development, and play with peers critical to high functioning kids (I challenge anyone to find a good study saying otherwise). Where are you going to get it? Autism does not = Public School, but Autism does not = homeschooling either. Do what's best for your little one.

Edited by Ellie Snowshoe
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I don't have a child with autism but I do have one with mild MR and ADHD. We put her in public school for a myriad of reasons. Keep in mind she's only in preK and our longterm goal is to homeschool her. If she were going to a mainstream classroom though, they get 15 minutes a day of "play" (in the form of recess). "Centers" in the room are all academic. Social stuff is important for her too, but that's not one of the reasons we put her in school and I suspect the social stuff will be mostly negative as time goes on.

 

We all make decisions for our own kids. I'd just say do your research! I would not say autism=public school at all.

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I've been homeschooling since about 1999.

 

My youngest has autism. She was in private preschools until Kindy. It was nice at preschool level to help with a lot of therapy.

but come Kindy and beyond.... A class of 20 "peer models" is not my goal for my kid. no private options were available at that point because most private schools don't take "those kinds of kids" b/c "we're not equipped, and besides, they bring down the academics, you know?" (yes, real things said to me)

 

And public school was not our desire due to wanting religious teaching as a major part of education.

 

Wahoo!!!! we were finally able to bring/keep her home where we wanted her in the first place with the rest of us.

 

Once kids are out of the preschool stage, they don't try to include everyone. Today at age 9, "same age peers" ignore her in church and field trips and shun our family. eewww.. she's weird. and when she was being "included by peers" in preschool, the kid next door was being excluded in his public group school settings. No one tried to include him in anything.

 

Social skills? you can teach it at home.

 

interesting in homeschooling with autism, adhd, etc..

Here: check out headsupnow.com

http://www.headsupnow.com/

and

sizzlebop (Carol Barnier)

 

 

you can do it. been doing it for a long time...

 

-crystal

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Wow, apparently I didn't make my point. I wasn't advocating for public school. My guy isn't in public school, he's at a private, 8:1 pre-k, no IEP, no social worker, no nothing, just a paraprofessional and great teachers and a good deal of money. The reality that set in was MY reality, not anyone else's. What I was trying to get across is that while a high functioning child might flourish academically at home, they've been shown to do better with a safe community of typical peers to interact and play with. Unstructured play with peers in an invaluable tool for development. High functioning kids do model peer behavior, but they often don't learn appropriate social signals. Of course they're never going to be typical, they're autistic. But using the problems that come up as an opportunity to teach solutions is part of the process (like the problems I mentioned he had this year). That's why we do social stories about turn taking, and being a space invader, and act it out, and the whole nine yards. This is not available to everyone via school. I explicitly said if the room is not appropriate, Homeschooling would be a better choice. Bullying is not tolerated at his school and the parents are ubersupportive. I know we've been lucky. But if he didn't have this school, we'd fulfill that need for play in another way, like a homeschool coop, which I did ask if it was an option.

 

I'd never tell anyone where to place their kid, I have no idea if the teacher is any good, if the kids are accepting, if the parents are supportive. But I would point out that Madison, WI has a school system that integrates all children so successfully that their disabled student rate is over 18% because people are flocking from all over the country (great new york times article if you care to google it) to get their children enrolled and have their kids treated with dignity and respect. Charlotte, NC also integrates with really good results. So the concept of "school" itself is not necessarily the problem. What is the goal for schooling? My point was: school isn't all about academics, play is important to development, and play with peers critical to high functioning kids (I challenge anyone to find a good study saying otherwise). Where are you going to get it? Autism does not = Public School, but Autism does not = homeschooling either. Do what's best for your little one.

 

 

Those numbers look good. Our local school district has excellent numbers as well. It's not Charlotte but it is in NC. It looks good on paper here but the reality is that it is not good at all. I'm not saying these programs are not well intentioned but the older my kids got the worse it got and what the numbers said and the reality were two completely different things.

 

My sons will be fine socially and equipped to interact well with all types of people. I didn't throw them into the deep end of the pool to teach them to swim and I won't socialize them that way either. They attend social groups put on by TEACCH annually and they have community support workers that teach them proper social interactions above and beyond what DH and I do.

Edited by pdalley
killed a kitten with incorrect punctuation
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Wow, apparently I didn't make my point. I wasn't advocating for public school. My guy isn't in public school, he's at a private, 8:1 pre-k, no IEP, no social worker, no nothing, just a paraprofessional and great teachers and a good deal of money. What I was trying to get across is that while a high functioning child might flourish academically at home, they need a safe community of typical peers to interact and play with. Unstructured play with peers in an invaluable tool for development. High functioning kids do model peer behavior, but they often don't learn appropriate social signals. Of course they're never going to be typical, they're autistic. But using the problems that come up as an opportunity to teach solutions is part of the process (like the problems I mentioned he had this year). That's why we do social stories about turn taking, and being a space invader, and act it out, and the whole nine yards. I explicitly said if the room is not appropriate, Homeschooling would be a better choice. Bullying is not tolerated at his school and the parents are ubersupportive. I know we've been lucky. But if he didn't have this school, we'd fulfill that need for play in another way, like a homeschool coop, which I did ask if it was an option.

 

I'd never tell anyone where to place their kid, I have no idea if the teacher is any good, if the kids are accepting, if the parents are supportive. But I would point out that Madison, WI has a school system that integrates all children so successfully that their disabled student rate is over 18% because people are flocking from all over the country (great new york times article if you care to google it) to get their children enrolled and have their kids treated with dignity and respect. Charlotte, NC also integrates with really good results. So the concept of "school" itself is not necessarily the problem. What is the goal for schooling? My point was: school isn't all about academics, play is important to development, and play with peers critical to high functioning kids (I challenge anyone to find a good study saying otherwise). Where are you going to get it? Autism does not = Public School, but Autism does not = homeschooling either. Do what's best for your little one.

 

I'm sorry if I made you feel defensive. That was not my intention. I agree with you that autism does not necessarily = any particular educational setting. Nor would I ever tell another parent where to place their child.

 

I was trying to make two points. My first point was that even in a classroom in a good school with zero tolerance for bullying, a supportive, interested staff of committed, caring professionals, other parents who want to help things work, and doing all the "right" things to successfully integrate a child with autism, it can STILL be the wrong sort of placement for some children. At the time ds was in school our district was acknowledged as the best in our state for working with disabled children, and autism in particular. Districts from around the state, and from other states looked to our district for a model of the best ways to integrate autistic children into general education classroom settings. Our school was solidly in the top end of the district, and our principal won awards. It wasn't that it was a "bad" school, or that they didn't do everything possible to make it work for my ds. It was that a classroom setting--ANY classroom setting was not the right setting for ds to be able to learn in--academics, social skills, or anything else.

 

We never had a "social worker". I'm not even sure how one would have fit into the scenario. We did have an IEP which is just an Individualized Education Plan, which is a legal document that outlines services and accommodations for kids with disabilities. It is needed by the school to get the funding for his paraprofessional (which in our state is called a technician) and some of the other services. It also ensures that parents and school staff are communicating accurately with each other about what the expectations are for how things will be handled with this child at the school.

 

We had a wonderful speech therapist to help with pragmatics like conversation skills and nonverbal language. And to be fair, she did help him rather a lot, and I'm still in touch with her (she now asks me for advice on teaching her autistic students). But she was teaching these skills explicitly, not through peer modeling. She tried the peer modeling approach and observed that with him, like most kids with autism, it was not a successful method of teaching UNLESS it was combined with explicit coaching. In other words he CAN learn from peer modeling, but only if someone translates the peers' behavior for him and helps him process it verbally. He doesn't just "pick up" appropriate social skills from interacting with kids. He does need to PRACTICE it with other kids, but that's not his primary mode of learning. This is not uncommon for kids with autism. If YOUR son works differently, feel very blessed. The social world is set up for people who learn that way. Hooray! But that is not the 'norm' for autistic children. He also worked with an occupational therapist and a physical therapist through the school to help him with sensory and coordination issues. That was very helpful. But again, it didn't help with the social deficits.

 

And I can tell you that "a great deal of money" does get spent on these kids in a good public school. (Though I am sure you would agree that money, in and of itself, doesn't actually solve anything.) There's nothing magical about private school either, particularly. Some are better than the bad public schools, some are worse than the good public schools. We definitely did look into that option. Nothing I saw in the private schools we looked into made me think that they would be any better for our son than the public school he was in, and most offered fewer autism-specific services. I would certainly not say that homeschooling is THE answer for ALL children with autism. It takes a very high level of commitment on the part of the parent to do the job properly and I know several parents of autistic children who I am quite confident would be overwhelmed and not do a good job of it. But it has certainly been the best solution for our son

 

I am very sincerely happy to hear that your child is in a positive environment that is working well for him at the Pre-K level. I would gently suggest that the Pre-K social milieu is somewhat different from a 3rd grade social milieu or that of a 7th grade class. I hope that your solution continues to be a good one for you as the socialization process evolves over the years.

 

And I agree that neither public school, private school, nor homeschool is the ONLY appropriate setting for a child with autism. Autistic children are very much individuals, and what works for one might not be the best solution for others. I'm glad we can agree that the best thing is to evaluate all the options and do what's best for your child.

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I'm sorry if I made you feel defensive. That was not my intention.

 

He doesn't just "pick up" appropriate social skills from interacting with kids. He does need to PRACTICE it with other kids, but that's not his primary mode of learning. This is not uncommon for kids with autism. If YOUR son works differently, feel very blessed. The social world is set up for people who learn that way. Hooray! But that is not the 'norm' for autistic children.

 

I am very sincerely happy to hear that your child is in a positive environment that is working well for him at the Pre-K level. I would gently suggest that the Pre-K social milieu is somewhat different from a 3rd grade social milieu or that of a 7th grade class. I hope that your solution continues to be a good one for you as the socialization process evolves over the years.

 

And I agree that neither public school, private school, nor homeschool is the ONLY appropriate setting for a child with autism. Autistic children are very much individuals, and what works for one might not be the best solution for others. I'm glad we can agree that the best thing is to evaluate all the options and do what's best for your child.

 

WSS. :)

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Boy, how to respond to this one!

 

I have a 10 yo son that has HF autism and has been homeschooled throughout with a few tries in some regular situations (cub scouts) that for us didn’t work so well.

I agree with Ellie Snowshoe in the respect that if you homeschool, you would need to search far and wide for places that you child will comfortably fit in socially. We are lucky enough to have a small group of homeschool moms where most of the kids in the homeschool group are either sibs of spectrum kids or on the spectrum. The kids are great with each other. We have always led the group ourselves so its more work for us but I find that it is worth it.

 

I would suggest looking at Dr. Gutstien’s books (RDIconnect.com), he is a developmental psychologist that has determined a therapy called Relationship Development Intervention. It is something that you do at home and you can get taught by a consultant and starting with one on one and moving to a social group as your child could handle it. He advocates homeschooling because he believes that as long as your child is overwhelmed, (he feels this happens due to school days being too long and classrooms being too large) they will not learn and will eventually develop avoidance of social situations and start to fear social situations. He has said in his conference that you only put your child in situations that you know your child can handle. If they can’t show some mastery in the situation, they are learning to fear the situation. I have found this to be very true.

 

I find schools have the philosophy that if you “throw em in†they will learn. This is a fallacy. Autistic kids cannot take in nonverbal communication. That is part of the disorder. If you “throw em in†you have to make sure that the group is supportive and small and isn’t too long to overwhelm your child all day. I find most skills need to specifically be taught and discussed with your child. Ie. John, you have to realize that not every kid is nice. Some kids .........

 

Typical children in a school respond in a wide range to one with a perceived weakness. One way, and the hopeful way, is to accept that there are differences and be supportive and helpful.

Another less ideal way children respond to one with percieved weakness, is to tease and victimize a child. This can take place by exclusion (not inviting the child but inviting everyone else), taking advantage of, ie. Taking money, or getting a child to do something that will get them in trouble, or to beat the child up. Sometimes group pressure can push an otherwise supportive child into bullying behavior if others threaten to reject that kid if he is supportive to a “weird†kid.

 

I feel schools have very little control over which of the above happens. Schools are more and more having to specifically focus on academics and not on group behavior. When there is a supportive environment, its because the teacher is moving the group in that direction, but its not specifically across the board.

 

I found that my ds could not handle school from 8:30 to 3:45. It was too long. He did fine up to a point but when he lost steam, he could no longer manage. He couldn’t pay attention, start to go inside of himself and would get teased or taken advantage of.

 

The positive thing is that our public school has offered me an array of options, like half day school and they will do social skills group with my son as long as I transport him there. I did take advantage of that while I spent some reading time with my dd in the library there. My ds is gladly being homeschooled. He has no desire to attend a school. I have him in activities, gymnastics, swimming, he is now at 10 trying some soccer and he is enjoying it.

I hope this helps with your difficult decision and good luck.

Moriah

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I have not read any other posts but I just found out ds 6 1/2 is autistic (as well as SPD, SID, tourettes syndrome, low tone, severe spatial delays, eye tracking problems.) We will homeschool him to the end. Where do you live? We live in Wyoming and by law the public school system has to work with us and offer us the same services as the public school families because we live in the district and pay taxes. We got all our testing done for free through them and although they did try to convince us that putting him in their school was much better for him (they just want the $ for another special needs student) they know we are firm in our decision to homeschool him through the end. They laughed when I told him ds will go to college (according to them ofcourse he can't do that, he has special needs) They just do not nor will ever have the same goals as I do for my ds. He has high functioning autism (he is at the upper end of the HF spectrum but he is still on it) so I have no doubt in my mind that I can and will prepare him for college. It will just be more work that his siblings. We are working with the OT, SLP and a few other professionals to help but he will remain a homeschooled student. That is that :001_smile:

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