Son with Possible Autism Going to School in the Fall...

Updated on April 01, 2010
L.O. asks from San Antonio, TX
25 answers

Just to fill you in a little bit on my life right now... I have alot on my plate. I have daughter who is 2 months shy of her 5th birthday. She will be starting kindergarten this August. I have a 16 month old who was born at 23 weeks gestation weighing 13 ozs and has lots of medical issues and has appointments like you wouldnt believe...and i have a 3 yr old son who we suspect has mild autism. We noticed that he wasnt talking and that he liked to play alone with this one particular toy. At my daughters developmental appointment her Dr saw the way my son was behaving..(not bad but in the corner with a doodle pro just drawing away) and he started asking about him. When he found out that he had no speech, did not respond to his name and failed to look anyone but myself in the eyes he automatically wanted to take him on as a patient. My son isnt going to start seeing him until Novemeber 2010 and since the appointment is so far away, he got my son into a group of therapists for occupational and speech therapy. So now I'm being told that he should attend a program at school which is like a Pre-K for age 3. Now i don't have any negative feelings towards this program but my son is totally and completely attatched to me. He is the type that will be playing and come all the way to the livingroom to take a peek and make sure I'm sitting there every 5 minutes. I don't know why he does this or even when it started but I cant see myself leaving him from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm monday through friday. Have any mothers out there who have children with autism start going to school so young and been okay with you not being there? Im so terrified of leaving him and him just crying all day.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much and please keep the suggestions coming. I just wanted to say that my son received ECI for a year and everytime the therapists would come he didn't want anything to do with them. My husband and I also have a difficult time taking him to therapy because as soon as we walk through the front door and he realizes that it is a doctors office type enviornment he has an all out panic attack! He clings to me like Janet B said...like velcro! My husband tried to give me nights where I can go with a girlfriend and just have a girls night but I eventually have to return because my son will wait at the door for hours in tears until i walk through the door. I feel so bad when this happens and then after i do come home he is like my little shadow. He even waits outside of the bathroom door when i take a shower.

I know he needs some early intervention and I definatly want that for him because I do want him to thrive.
Its good to know that Im not the only mother going through this and i have you ladies to give your own stories and opinions!

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N.A.

answers from Houston on

My son is diagnosed PDD-NOS (mild Autism) and has been in school since his 3rd birthday (was meeting with ECI before that) and even has been riding the bus since that time! He is 7 now and is (and has always) been doing well with it. Good luck ;-)

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K.O.

answers from Austin on

The school definitely needs to let you go there with him every day and STAY with him until he feels comfortable. This might take one to two weeks but is well worth it. It's how they do it in Sweden just for normal preschool.

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K.B.

answers from San Antonio on

Wow! You are so blessed to have a dr who wanted to be an advocate for your son and take him in. I love that he got him into OT and speech since he couldn't see him until later. As a mom of a slightly autistic child (he has sensory processing and adhd both on the autistic spectrum) I would have loved to have been able to send him to a Pre-K program at school early on as an intervention for teaching him social skills and routine. Remember although he is attached to you it is because you are his constant. Children with autism thrive on constants or routine. Getting him into school now will allow him to learn routine/structure (something he craves but can't tell you yet) and will allow him great success for the future. Don't be afraid... It may take some time of adjustment... remember that if it is a specially designed program the teachers will have experience with being able to help him through his days in a way that will allow him to not be afraid and be engaged. I challenge you to channel your fear into excitement for the future of your son. God did not give him to you accidentally - he choose you because he knew you would be the perfect mom for him. He will do great and you will be able to see him do amazing things! Hugs to you mom!

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M.I.

answers from New York on

It may be difficult for you to leave your son in a school program, but kids adjust. My oldest son has Autism and he has been in Early Intervention since before the age of 2. At 3 years old, I put him in a program where I had to leave him all day, I was nervous about this but he adjusted. He was not talking and delayed in a lot of areas. I never thought he would talk. He did 2 years of the preschool program and improved a lot. He was 5 when he finally spoke in sentences. He is 8 now almost 9 and is in Mainstream classes at his Elem. School. He has come a long way and it is b/c he got therapy and help early on. Please push all anxieties aside and put him in a program. You won't regret it and it is so important to this early on in order for him to thrive.
I also have a 3 year old son whom we thought was delayed, we got early intervention services for him too. We were not sure if he was going to have Autism like his brother and I now have him in an integrated preschool school class all day with special ed kids students and typical kids. He is doing fantastic and now talks a whole bunch. He does not have Autism like his brother but putting him in a program has given him the boost he needed. Maybe your son might have Autism like my oldest or maybe he is just delayed like my youngest son was. What matters is getting the therapy and help early. All Mother's worry about their children but not wanting to send him b/c he has separation anxiety would be a disservice to him and all that he can accomplish being in a program. I hope you send him and I look forward to hearing how well he does.

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J.B.

answers from Lafayette on

I have a child with Asperger's, a mild form of autism. He is now 17, but at age 3 I called him my velcro child. If I left him at the church nursery, he would vomit, and then they would have to come and get me. (He was not siagnosed then.) One of the workers agreed to give him time to adjust and tell him that he could get upset and cry, but she would not come and get me. That Mom would be back to get him in a short time. This worked, and the next year he was able to go to a preschool half days three days a week. I also had him tested by the school who gave him speech and occupational therapy. He is able to talk with others and make brief eye contact now. He can dress himsolf, but needs prompted. He can fix anything and is great at wiring computers, etc. I beleive the early and ongoing interventions make the difference. If there is an autism support group in your area, join in. I moderate an online one in the Lafayette, IN area. The parents there will give your real life advice and support and they have been in your shoes. Good luck with him and all of your kids!

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M.K.

answers from Chicago on

I strongly recommend you take advantage of *every* resource available to help your son develop. And do this as soon as possible. The earlier your son receives intervention and services, the better. As of his 3rd birthday, your son may be eligible for 3-year old "preschool" through your school district. The Special Education program in your district is equipped to work with your son "to meet their individual needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living." (This is part of Federal Regulation under IDEA.)

Your son will have to be evaluated by experts in your school district to determine which (if any) services he is eligible for. Call your school district as soon as possible and find out when he can be evaluated.

I apologize if this sounds blunt, but my personal fear is that my child will not be able to live a satisfying, fulfilling life on his own when he is an adult. Not whether or not he will cry, being left at school without me.

I wish you the very best for you, your son and your family.

PS...The fact that your son has such a strong attachment to you is a great sign!!

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S.B.

answers from Kansas City on

My son has a 'Disorder of Childhood' diagnosis, I took him in to screen for autism and their response was that they were conservative and were going to give him the DOC diagnosis (which means somethng is wrong but maybe not autism because he's on the edge so come back when he starts kindergarten and the'll test him again).

He has been in the School program for early education since he was 3 for a year now and it has done marvels for him. I was terrified because not only did he have to take a school bus (my tiny little baby on a school bus) from daycare, but I had to switch his daycare to get one in the school district. That was a lot of change to a child who cannot handle change.

He did OK though - now he was used to being away from me so that wasn't a hurdle, but all of the change was and he did OK.

Your son may have a hard time adjusting, or he may be OK, but the benefits he will get from the program will far outweigh that difficulty.

My son was in speech therapy since he was 2, but his speech had improved significantly in the school program. In addition, they are able to teach him to interact with his peers which is not something he was getting anywhere else. That is still in his IEP, but at daycare he greets his peers and engages them in some play, so he is practicing what he is learning outside of school.

If your son has autism or doesn't get the diagnosis but is struggling with these development delays, he is going to have to work twice as hard on a lot of things his peers don't have to and with everything else you have going on you need some outside support to help make that happen. Sign him up now!!!

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T.W.

answers from Chicago on

My son was in a special ed preschool from the age of 4. He has Tourette Syndrome, speech delay, OCD, and was just diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder. He is also a total "mama's boy" and has a very hard time being separated from me. He loved preschool, and he was there for a year and a half. I feel that he really thrived there, and he was able to get OT and ST and had social skills group as well. It was wonderful. Because of that program, he was excited about starting kindergarten this last fall. He's in a special ed classroom still, and he loves school. He does sometimes still say he misses me during the day, but I have never regretted that early intervention.

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M.B.

answers from Houston on

L., my daughter doesn't have autism, but she DOES have other disabilities that have placed her in the program to which you are referring. I had some reservations about it, but we tried it, and we couldn't be more pleased! It has done wonders for her! It will be hard, I know, but I think it will also be beneficial for your son. Just my two cents.

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S.J.

answers from Houston on

Please put him in school. His teacher is trained to deal with his issues. Being around other kids will help. God bless

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C.P.

answers from Houston on

The EC teacher and paraprofessionals at our school is awesome. They have so much love for these special students. The students thrive so well. Many make more progess in the few months of school than they have in the 3 years before they came. My son was LLD, and I started him early. It made all the difference in the world. He graduated from HS and has his associate from a jr. college. He is still at home, but he has a job, a checking account, a credit card, has paid off his student loans, and pays the cable bill (which we all benefit from) each month.
It is hard to take one so young, and many times you cry longer than your child, but it is for the best.

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G.G.

answers from Austin on

L., You sure do have a lot on your plate! My son does not have autism but was diagnosed with some other social issues and Sensory Processing Disorder. When he started school, the separation anxiety was completely abnormal. Sure, lots of kids cry hysterically when leaving their parents for the first time.....for a couple of weeks. For him, it went on for over a year. Some days were so bad that he would hide under a table for 4 hours and chew on his shirt until it was soaking wet. Granted, this was not at a school who saw kids who needed special care. It just broke my heart. I didn't know what to do. This went on before we realized there were other things going on with him. Eventually, we realized something was up and that's when he was diagnosed with SPD. The Occupational Therapy helped him a lot and also helped me learn how to help him calm himself in stressful situations. I still use these techniques now; on my youngest too...when she's out of control. He is 5 now and doesn't have such an issue but we still have problems separating from time to time. My advice is to just go for it. He will eventually adjust to being without you and the program through your district will REALLY be wonderful for him. In fact, the earlier you intervene, the better!! If you haven't already done it, call your nearest elementary school and ask them what you need to do to have him evaluated. Hopefully it's nothing but if there is something going on, you want to treat it now! We went through a period with a very sick baby and also dealing with all of these appointments for my son. Those were tough times and I feel your pain! Stick it out and good for you for doing what's best for your son. Don't stress yourself out too much over the thought of him crying when you leave. It will be difficult but it's better to do this while he's young rather than him have to make the "break" when he's older and others notice. I assure you, he will eventually adjust, even if it's not as quickly as the "typical" child.

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D.H.

answers from San Antonio on

You cannot let your fears keep you from doing what is best for your son. I promise you it will get better. It would be a disservice to him to not allow him to go to school-----it is what's best, trust me I know & not to mention it will be good for you too.

Good luck & God bless you girl!
DH

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

The Therapists he is seeing now, should know of any resources and "early intervention programs" in your area or at the schools.... for your son's situation.

I would recommend, a transition to full "school", and like you seem to want as well. Then he can gradually get used to it all.

See if the school has a program for kids with special needs.... instead of the Pre-K for 3's class. Since he is NOT on that level yet.

Or, just hold off.... until you find a program/school that would be part-time, partial days, half-days, for him. Then when he is 'ready'... you can think about school school... for him. And maybe they might suggest having an "Aide" with him in school. If he is assessed as needing one, per his formal diagnosis.

Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent to okay... their suggestions.
If you feel he is not ready... then that is okay.
Ask the Therapists any questions you have and tell them your reservations as well... and since they deal with this all the time... they will probably be able to give you information and advice.....

All the best,
Susan

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C.B.

answers from Austin on

I have a brother with autism born in the 1950's. Back then, my mom would have been absolutely thrilled to have an early intervention program for him that might have helped. As it is, they had to pay for private programs, and he never got the help he needed. Now you have the chance to do something for your son to keep him from going further and further away from you into his own world. PLEASE send him to school if the specialists recommend it. My brother never learned to talk or live a normal life in any way. He lives in an institution. There was no help or good therapy back in "the dark ages", but you have so many things to help your son lead a happy and productive life. The folks running the program will have ways of dealing with your son's separation issues. If he has a few bad days in the beginning, the benefits will far outweigh his distress then.
I wish you all the best with him and your other 2 wonderful children.

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R.T.

answers from San Antonio on

Make contact with your school district IMMEDIATELY. Stay on them until they set up a testing situation that you are comfortable with. If your son does qualify for early admission, he will be put into the Pre-school program for children with Disabilities or PPCD. Call the school, get on a first name basis with someone in the special-ed department, stay on them and become of aware of your rights and especially your son's rights at wrightslaw.com also make contact with Dot O'Donnell, TEAM Project Regional Coordinator at ###-###-####, e-mail [email protected]____.com your son's in the PPCD program he will do alright. It is a challenge to let him go, but you will see changes in him within weeks. He will not be allowed to scream and cry for an extended period of time. If he cannot be calmed by the teachers and assistants using anything from walking, riding elevator, massage, alone time, etc. whatever it takes to help him be comfortable, they will call you. He will cry once he notices you have left him in a classroom, but prepare him, drop him off and DO NOT linger. The teachers are much better prepared to deal with him and his needs. I went through all of this with my son this past spring. His 3rd birthday was in January so he is the youngest and smallest child in the entire elementary school but he is doing VERY well. Also, look into getting your son into an Applied Behavior Analysis program. It's one-on-one therapy for autistic children. You can get contacts at Any Baby Can. If you need support or help getting through all of this please e-mail me at [email protected]____.com.

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L.Z.

answers from Killeen on

L.,
I just wanted to give you some advice from the educational side. I am a PPCD3 teacher. All of the children in my class have speech delays. Some of them are diagnosed with Autism, and others have other issues. It is very important for children with any kind of delay to start receiving services as early as possible. All of the teachers and assistants in the classroom should have specialized training in dealing with children with special needs. Our goal is to help the students adjust to school and start to close their gap between their current level of delevopment and that of the "average" child of the same age. The sooner that is started, the easier the process, and usually, the better the success rate. It is hard for most parents to take that first step. The relief they feel when they see the progress their kids make is unbelievable. It makes so many of their worries disappear. Ask to have an evaluation done by your local school district. They will help you decide on the best course of action. Good luck. Contact me if you need to.
Laura

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E.M.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi L., as a mother of a child that is speech delayed (not autistic) I can understand your fears. You need to teach your child independence. This sounds like it will be a perfect time to do so. It will be very hard on you and it will be hard on him at first. Your son will do good though. He will benefit from interacting with children his age. I'm sending you a hug!

The best of luck to you,
Elisa M

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J.S.

answers from Houston on

talk to the school. socialization is the BEST thing for him. been there and done that. when my now 6yo was 3 yo we sent him to pre-k and he cried, I cried..... He has high functioning autism as well. Get him to play around as many kids as possible. If you are in the houston area, email me ([email protected]____.com). Got lots of great resources. My son is abot to complete kinder completely independent.

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J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

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S.S.

answers from Houston on

My son has mild autism/social anxiety and has had behavior problems since before he could talk. He would not go anywhere near strangers, would not look at them and if they tried to talk to him, he would get mad & "sreech" at them. I had ECI come out & they said he seemed ok developmentally, but he was so young (2) and that he should be evaluated again later. Things got worse & worse. I could not put him in daycare, because he was very attached to me & like I said, he would have NOTHING to do with strangers. In the grocery store, if someone tried to talk to him, he would "screech" at them, sometimes throw his sippy cup at them, or even spit at them! It was horrible! I dreaded the day I had to put him in school, because I knew it would be a disaster. I took him to our pediatrician who had me fill out some questionaires about his behavior and then sent me to Depelchin's Childrens Center to see a therapist & psychiatrist. After a little time in therapy, I saw the psychiatrist and she diagnosed him with mild autism/social anxiety. My brother also had social anxiety as a child, but back then, (70's) they didn't know how to diagnose him and now, he is 36 and a complete mess, he is now Bi-Polar, manic depressive and ADD. He can't hold down a job and can't manage his own life and has just turned into a miserable person. SInce he has gone his whole life without treatment, he doesn't want to take medication, because he thinks he is perfectly normal!! I will NOT allow that to happen to my son!! The Dr. recommended Celexa, which I was apprehensive about at first, I mean, he was 4 yr. old!! Who wants to give meds to a 4 yr. old?? Once he started that medication, things changed DRASTICALLY! He started to ask me in the grocery store if I would go up to complete strangers and ask their names for him! He was checking people out, commenting on their cool shoes or baseball hats! Something he had NEVER dreamed of doing before. He was SCARED of people, he used to tell me "I hate people". When it came time for Pre-K (about 3 months after he started the meds in Sept. 09) I was a nervous wreck. Even though he was better, he still was very attached to me. So, before his school year had started, they had a tour of the school for Kindergarteners, so I called & explained the situation & they allowed him to tag along, even though he was going to Pre-K. He still acted like he did NOT want to go, he would get mad when we would mention it. I talked to him about it all the time. I had other, older kids talk to him about how much they loved school. When the 1st day came around, he didn't want to go in, he kicked & screamed and even hit one of the teachers who was trying to keep him from running back to me. They finally had a teacher get him away from all the other kids, teachers & noise and into his new (quiet) classroom where she showed him all of the cool things in there and he was finally able to join the others. He was very shy & nervous, but they said once he calmed down, he was ok. He wouldn't talk for a long time, but now he absolutely LOVES school, he talks about all of his friends and looks forward to it each day. I know the effects of leaving a child untreated and it doesn't have to be that way. It is such a shame that my brother has to live like he does. The change it has made in my son, brings me to tears. He is happy. That is the best feeling in the world. Your son will be upset when you leave him, but you need to talk to him alot about it. PREPARE him. I found that with my son, if I prepared him ahead of time, he did much better than just throwing him into the situation. If we were going to a family members house for dinner, I would say "ok, we are going to eat dinner & there will be adults & kids there. They will probably want to talk to you. You don't have to talk to them if you don't want to, but they love you & want to say hi. If you feel uncomfortable, come to me" He usually would just stand, holding my legs, but he stopped screaming, because he knew what to expect. So, read him books about school, DVD's have other people tell him stories about school .Take him to the school playground, let him explore there. He will be fine.

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J.T.

answers from Victoria on

give it a try. i suggest you try a mothers day out program at a smaller church. they are only for a few hrs. and you can pick him up after an hour the first time, then two hrs the second time. or how ever you want to span the time out. i say an hr at first not thirty mins because if he is freaked out at first then give him time to calm down. our son didnt like a piticular church nursery we sent him. we switch churches ( for other reasons ) and he loves this nursery. perhaps a little apron string cutting wont hurt, but actually help him develop better people skills. hang in there momma. we are faced with many challenges but we are never alone. God is there to help us though them.

R.W.

answers from San Antonio on

I live in San Antonio and have worked for Northside I.S.D. for 16 yrs. 15 of those years, I worked in PPCD. This stands for Pre School Program for Children with Disabilities. They go for 1/2 a day. There is an AM class and a PM class. We take students as young as 3 yrs. old., if they qualify. They need to be tested first. It's an awesome program, and your son will adapt. They all do.

Good Luck.

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L.B.

answers from Corpus Christi on

You will need to remember that the teachers are trained to work with children of this type. You will also need to remember what is important, that he start to talk and interact with other people or only with you? Take care and pay attention to a trained Dr. for the you, your child, and your family. God Bless you and your family.

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J.T.

answers from College Station on

The staff is trained to handle these types of situations. It will be okay. If he is autistic, the earlier he gets help, the better. I would try to move the appointment up if you can.

Good Luck and God bless!

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