Monday, June 16, 2008

Schools are key piece in autism puzzle

There are two recent stories in the Whittier Daily News and the Cincinnati Enquirer about students with autism who recently graduated from high school. There are uplifting articles about individuals who have overcome difficulties associated with this condition.

I have four children who have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. Three are in the local public school system and one is still in pre-school.

Asperger's is arguably the mildest form of autism. With my kids, they seem "normal" (as if any kid can be labeled normal). But it's when you engage with them in discussion that you see some of the social quirks kick in - i.e. lack of eye contact, lack of basic conversational skills, hand-wringing (my son sometime licks his hands).

But they perform well in school. The two older students are in a more rigorous academic program geared toward the gifted and talented students. In academics, the Asperger's can present problems during timed testing - sometimes there's a lack of urgency to get the test done - as well as following some basic classroom rules.

The key for us in the school system has been to meet with the school regularly. In our district, the Asperger's diagnosis puts our children in the special education category, which means a thorough individual education plan (IEP) for each child. Input into this plan comes from the parents, the classroom teacher, the school's special education coordinator, and any other staffers - i.e. speech therapist, physical therapist - who assist with their education.

These meetings, as well as other communication during the year, keep you plugged in to the school system. That line of communication is critical to keep the home and school on the same page.

It's important to know what rights you have as a parent. Yes, it sounds bureaucratic. But it helps protect the child and guarantees a proper education.


Anonymous said...

I like your Asperger's piece on your blog.

I teach special needs kids in Indianapolis. I am glad you are an involved parent, more should be.

I read you blog from the link on Topix. I just started a blog, but I'm afraid to post the address on the topix site. Do a lot of people visit your blog from this site?

40-Year-Old Blog said...

My blog is relatively new as well, but yes, I do get people visiting from Topix.

If you're setting up your blog with (which is operated by Google), you can sign up for free for Google Analytics. It offers fairly detailed info on who is visiting, including location and the referring site.

Thanks for the comment. We've been blessed to (except on one occasion) to have teachers who understand or work to understand Asperger's. Like I said in the post, that communication is key.

What is the subject of your blog?

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