American Asperger's Association Support Group

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Hey this is Kim, early intervention called while I was taking a nap, need some advice...

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Early Intervention called while I was sleeping, she had an eval when she turned 2, but didn't qualify for services, but she was still registered for early intervention, confusing.. anyway they called today and left the message with my husband to have me call back regarding starting school at 3 yrs old. I'm going to call her back tomorrow and let them know she is doing better than when they saw her and that we've been doing HBOT with her, along with flaxseedoil. They asked if she was still in OT, yes. I'll call them tomorrow, but if you have any thoughts or opinions about the 3yr old early steps school program, will you fill me in. Thanks, Kim

2 our experience on Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:07 pm


Hey Kim, this is Kelley from the AAA group. I wanted to share with you our experiences with school. My son Richard (who will be 5 on the 12th) was in Early Steps/Early intervention from about 18 months until age 3 where he was moved into the school system. It was there where it was finally discovered that he was autistic. Before, he was simply diagnosed as severely speech delayed. I was heartbroken in the last couple of meetings to hear all of the hardships people have had in the school system, because quite frankly our tenure so far has been nothing short of a miracle for him and us.

But then as people talked, I realized quickly it wasn't the school system that has been in our favor, as we have had our struggles with "the system" pretty much from day one, but it's been Richard's teacher who has been the "miracle." His teacher's name is Ms. Nancy Wudtke, she is the IVE Pre-K teacher at Walsingham Elementary. She has approximately 30 years of teaching, all at this age level of students under her belt, almost all of them have been with handicapped children. She has a grand knowledge of many disorders, but the autism spectrum is her "hobby" as she has put it to me in the past. Ms. Wudtke's entire classroom routine is centered around the advancement of these children's advancement, so much so that she has patented (I believe she told me at one point) several of her own techniques. She integrates speech/occupational therapy into her morning circle time. Fine motor work and more occupational therapy into free play and table time (artwork). It's so subtle the kids don't even know it's there, but it works so splendidly. So there is my recommendation and her background, let me tell you exactly what she has done for my son and for us as a family. (Be forewarned, when I write, I ramble. Smile)

Richard did not begin speaking until he was nearly 2 1/2 years old. Literally. No words at all. When he began, he snowballed... repeating words left and right. Then, repeating phrases, which duped the Early intervention team into thinking he was a typical child. Despite the fact that he never made eye contact with them, nor pointed, nor interacted with them in any way. He could speak! He was healed. They had me believing it too. Autism was brushed off at age 2 for him, so I never did any research into the subject... if I had, I would have known long before that it was exactly what he was dealing with. But, at age 3 they decided he should still be put into the school system for fear of regression... which was agreed upon all around. But since his birthday is so late in the school year (mid march) and several balls got dropped on the case worker's end, he didn't start school until the next fall, when he was 3 1/2.

At any rate, when Richard started school, he had zero social skills. He would at the very least hide when someone he didn't know tried to talk to him, and a lot of the time, he'd cry or scream. In large crowds, he'd meltdown. Any kind of loud noises would send him into a frenzy and also a meltdown. He had enough language skills to get him by, all of his language was repetitive - echolalic, if you are familiar with the word. He had basically a filing cabinet of words and phrases in his head of things he'd heard either from us or from TV or wherever and that's what he'd use to communicate. He had zero of his own original language. He had zero conversation skills, he could not answer a question, not even a simple yes or no.

Within the first week, Ms. Wudtke recognized this as Autism and worked with Richard's case workers to get the proper diagnosis on his file so that he could have the proper plan in place to help him progress. Of course, it was a few months for the "system" to get their ummm... s**t together (if you'll pardon the expression), but once they did he had his speech therapy and was slated for another eval for occupational therapy as well. Of course that didn't come through until almost the end of his first year there, but again, this was not her fault but the school system itself.

Regardless, by the end of the first school year, it was apparent we had a different Richard on our hands. He was becoming more social... mostly with children, but bit by bit with adults as well. He was handling social situations better, large groups didn't bother him any more. He was still mostly ignoring people he didn't know, but at least he didn't run in terror. As far as speech went, well, by the end of that year, he had begun to have little bits of original speech and conversation. Starting with answering simple questions, then by him randomly telling us things or asking us things. Let me tell you, it was wonderful.

We had a bit of a setback over the summer with his behavior and decided to try a number of things, including supplements and a gluten free diet, all of which seemed to help. When school started again, Ms. Wudtke was greatly supportive in the change in diet, which obviously requires a lot of restrictions. Richard started up again without missing a step. He went from being the class troublemaker to the class helper and leader. Now, nearing the end of this school year, Richard is very nearly a typical child. For most people, it's hard to tell he's autistic. His speech has come up to a point very close to a normal level for his age range, and his social skills have become far beyond what we could have ever hoped for. He still struggles with his fine motor skills, but it is something we are working on. But this year Ms. Wudtke has been nothing but wonderful to us. She has been a wealth of information and support for us. She helped us to re-work Richard's IEP so that we could increase his occupational therapy since his fine motor skills were dropping off. Even now, she is working on his paperwork constantly so that he gets special attention when he moves on to kindergarten next year. She has recognized that Richard has extra-special needs and falls somewhere in-between the lines and cannot be set in stone as the system would like, and she has seen to it that he be placed in a program that will help to progress him, not just move him on and out. The sad thing is that it will move us out of this school.

The whole point being, from day one, she has been Richard's sole advocate, fighting for him when she didn't have to. And he's just one student, out of one year (OK, 2 years). I sure wouldn't have known what to do without her... I'm so new at all of this stuff. I'm still learning. Some days I feel like a pro, but most days I feel like I'm so much crud underneath someone's shoes, ya know? It helps having someone in your corner. And she's been our saving grace for the last two years, that's for sure. I highly recommend her for your little girl (don't know if you want me naming names here). I'm sure I haven't even scratched the surface of all she's done for us these last couple of years, but I promise you she won't let you down. I have talked with her a couple of times, I've been trying to get her to come to the meetings... I will email her a copy of the upcoming dates.


3 LOL on Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:51 am


Thanks for writing, I completely forgot so I just got off the phone, and meredith w/early steps will be out of the office until Thurs. Thanks for all the info, your son's teacher sounds like a godsent. If she ends up going, I'll try to get Kailey in with her!!! I've heard good things about Walsingham elem. Thanks for all the info.. wow, your son has come a LONG way!! He is adorable btw

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