© By Amy Simmans “FrankAutism”
Your Autistic child is living with so many things which he (or she) does not even understand himself. He is misunderstood. Communication barriers add to the feelings of isolation and inability to connect and relate. He is starting to realize he is different. What is worse is all the accommodations in the world do not change the fact that at school there is a prescribed set of mindsets, behaviors and thought life which some of us simply cannot subscribe too. For some, the homogeneity compounds the overall internal sense that something is wrong with him and it will continue to do so until you pull him out of there and is celebrated for all his strengths and he is able to be himself and learn how to self-regulate and rationalize.
We certainly check in with our kids OFTEN if public school is something they would like to revisit and the answer is a resounding NO.
They call it socialization, but it is not. Public school is by far the most homogeneous conditions one can be subjected to and we all know it. Nowhere else are people put in a room who share race (proportionately), income brackets, housing school zones with lines meticulously drawn by people who decide which side of which street the zone lines are drawn, into the same building, with same age group and children who live similar lives, and have similar priveledge or lackings and family structures, but also by grade and age and performance on testings and shoved into the classroom with everyone who is being taught the same thing last year and the year before. It is depressing the average person. What more to the children in “inclusive” classrooms where more than 50% of the children in one room have an IEP and special needs and the rest need one but are being refused one so the schools can continue to call it “inclusive” rather than what it is- special ed. And then what do they drill into their heads, “Quit talking we aren’t here to socialize”. Oh but they are! It is the number one agenda of public school. The ones who suffer the most are the ones who see the crazy in it and do not have the ability to conform to it. They are moved around measuring sticks and color charts which measure them and made to feel ashamed of completely natural behaviors and humiliated if they cannot comprehend and buck up. It is a sink or swim mentality there and you have to give him the float or else he will sink.
Look, you have to pull him out of the homogeneous zone to truly expose him to diversity and different ways of thinking and different types of abilities and put him in a world where he has a right to explore his passions. Let him pick what he reads and thinks about. Let him develop and celebrate everytime he finds something new that he loves and help him identify who he is. If Autism is an issue of self-awareness- then he has surely learned he has no sense of self there. But he also is not like them. So what now?
Parents!!! You are the only ones who can stop the crazy train.
Yes, there are other schools they can thrive in but many of us do not have access to that kind of priveledge and so YOU have to be the one who says when. Quit looking at grades which are often fudged to APPEAR your child is doing great – YOU KNOW when your child is suffering, sinking and not sailing. They must build on positive experiences.
Whoever tells you they must learn to deal with it here and now- punch them in the face. Tell them to deal with that. Because that is exactly the pain and offensive crap they project onto our children every day. (Obviously, you cannot really punch them in the face). But, why do they get to decide what level of suffering your child must learn to tolerate. EFFFFF THEM. Seriously. Fight for your kids!
I am a 42 year old Autistic female and I am STILL LEARNING to self-advocate. I have easily given my children permission to NOT shake hands or be touched but find myself doing it even when I do not want to EVEN WITH COVID ! Just a few days ago some stranger decided to shake my hand and I had no idea how to respond- as programmed I did it and thought the whole time how I could still feel his cold fingers and how uncomfortable I was and could not wait to wipe my hands off. I am not a germaphobe- not even a little. I simply do not like touching, being tagged or poked. I will get very angry if you touch my back. See how long this is…that is ONE THING.
Sink or swim is not appropriate for Autism. It may be for a typical person but not someone who is still unaware that a fan running in background exhausts the brain and Emotional thresholds; or the projector is painfully loud and drowning out teacher so now the child feels dumb because he did not understand or hear or process because of Sensory overload. So many things.
They must be allowed to learn who they are at home around people who love them, learn their triggers, sensory negotiations, coping strategies and when they are not already burnt out before they are forced to deal with that mess there. If you have a child who is starting to sink- throw them the life saver float and pull them back in …it does not have to be the answer forever- just til you know they CAN swim and if they want to.
Also, after 6 or even 7 years in elementary school many parents and iep teams forget that – sure the child starts to get it at 4th or 5th. They have been in the exact same school with same kids and rules and ways for many years now. But come sixth grade and hormones and new school and higher social expectations…it starts all over again. And even when they possibly suffer their way through high school if they are even a shadow of themselves and not just conformed into faking it or possibly even masking (which is not the same thing)- they will graduate and be expected to be independent with absolutely no clue as to who they really are or what they even like. Survival mode for 13 years- no thank you. No thank you.
Their ship is sinking. It has been for decades. Standardizing education has created a sinking ship. Frankly, Jump Ship!