American Asperger's Association Support Group

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New and having a hard time

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1 New and having a hard time on Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:02 am

lovethefish


Hello. I've joined this board about a month ago and have been reading but this is my first real post.

My name is Heide and I have an amazingly sweet boy named Josh that is 8 years old and has Asperger's. Josh has an older brother (10) and a younger brother (Cool and sister (2). Our life is pretty well adjusted. Home is good, church is good, sports are good. Of course, nothings perfect but everyone "understands" Josh and rolls with what we can.

Our BIG problem is school. I'm so frustrated I don't know what to do. He's in 3rd grade and we've started the RTI process but since I've heard nothing. When I ask how long it's going to take they say maybe 3-4 months. Is this normal? It seems like so long! I know there is a process but in 3-4 months Josh could start hating school? When the social worker interviewed him (part of the RTI process? confused ) she asked him "what's the problem in school?" and his response was "I am the problem". I cried when I read that. How sad!?!?

During our first RTI meeting the social worker told his teacher that she had some great reading material and would love to let the teacher borrow it. The teachers response was thank you but right now I have night school and a new baby and I just honestly don't have time. And THIS is the person my son is with all day!

I honestly think Josh would benefit from being in a different environment. Is there a good place for Asperger's children in elementary school? The ESE dept said there were no classes for ASD in grade school and that he'll be okay in a Gen Ed setting. Ummm, it's not working now!?!?!?

I'm just so lost. Sorry if I skipped around and this doesn't make sense. It breaks my heart. He's so happy over the weekend and then he comes home from school and he seems so down. He's only 8, he shouldn't have to deal with this.

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned but we live in Pinellas County. Largo/Seminole area.

Oooh, one more question, what is the "recommended", if there is such a thing, teacher/student ratio for a child with ASD?

Thanks for ANY advice.

Heide

KelleyNNelson

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Hi Heide, and welcome! I'm Kelley (self diagnosed aspie), mother to Richard (5 1/2 and mildly autistic). When they say there is no school that caters to "aspergers," they may be correct, but there are several schools that cater to the autistic spectrum which technically, your son falls under so he should be eligible if he gets the correct diagnosis on paper. Unfortunately, the school system has a hard time accepting "asperger's" as an acceptable diagnosis for "special needs," kind of like ADHD.

My little brother (who is now 15 1/2 and has the diagnosis of severe ADHD along with OCD) kinda went through the same thing as your son. My parents decided to fight the diagnosis and medication at first, but once my brother was old enough to realize that he was different from other kids, they decided to go ahead and help him (which would have been maybe 2nd grade.) By 3rd grade when it was time for him to start learning times tables and harder spelling and he was still having to add on his fingers and writing letters backwards, handwriting still that of a first grader and spelling about the same level, my parents decided to seek out ESE level courses for him and were told about the same as you. They waited, fought, waited some more. The only help they offered was to give him special attention during the FCAT - they put him in a special room and gave him all the time he needed rather than give him the regular time limits just so he could pass it, give the school their precious "A" and their funding. So meanwhile, his 3rd grade teacher was able to pass him on through even with his other delays and not have to deal with his "eccentricities" anymore. My parents continued to fight and wait and got the same thing all the way through 5th grade, he still had not gotten any better and they had not gotten any further with the system and each teach continued to pass him through even though he didn't know the material, but since he passed the FCAT, they could legally pass him. At that point, my parents decided that since he couldn't even walk down the street without getting so distracted as to walk into mailboxes, there was no way he could handle middle school and changing classes on his own and they yanked him out of the public school system and decided to home school him. He still, going on 16, has to add on his fingers, he still writes his UPPER case "D's" backwards, his handwriting and spelling is still atrocious, but he is also one of the smartest and sweetest kids I know. He is writing books, at last check, he had 3 different ones in the works - and they are very professionally written too; and he can tell you many things you never knew... especially anything scientifically related. The school system just simply failed him.

Now, take my son for instance. He entered the public school system (after 1 1/2 years of early intervention) at age 3 with a simple diagnosis of "developmental delay" (which was a significant speech delay at the time, along with a few other minor delays) and that opened up a "special ed" type environment public Pre-K classroom for him. It was shortly thereafter that we got the autistic diagnosis (from the school at first), which opened him up for the many therapies he needed, such as speech and occupational. He's now in his first year of Kindergarten, and with all the help he received (and still receives), he can read and do math at about a 2nd grade level. He is mainstreamed for 2/3 of the day and in an ASD classroom for another 1/3. So far, it is working well for him (although quite honestly, the mainstream KG class doesn't seem to challenge him quite enough - the ASD classroom he was in was actually a grade level or two ahead of him, which kind of helped him in a few ways, but we can fix that). But we couldn't have done it without the school system... as much as I hate them at times, he definitely wouldn't be where he is now without them.

Generally, the ratios for an actual ASD class is around 8-10 students per teacher, but they also have at least 1 permanent assistant and also at least 1 or 2 rotating assistants (where the assistants kind of go between a couple of different classes and help out where needed). Sometimes the ratio goes up slightly with age, but that's pretty typical. The classrooms are usually grouped by ages, K-2, 2-5, or some sort of variation. Now if you get more of a "blended classroom," which is some minorly delayed children mixed in with some typical children, the ratio would be slightly higher, but I'm not sure exactly what.

So I guess what I'm saying is really it's all in the presentation of the "diagnosis," which is something you'll have to hammer out with your doctor and what's proper for getting him into the right program in school (which may include some research). But then, the school will end up doing their own evaluations anyway in the end, but if you present it to them in a manner that he has a significant and "special" problem that the school offers help for, then you should be a shoe in at least for them to give you their own eval, and then they'll likely see the asperger tendencies in him and assign him properly.

My son attends New Heights Elementary in NE St. Pete, which caters to the Autistic spectrum, PK-5th grade (along with Neurotypical children as well, but most teachers at least have some knowledge of the spectrum and can work with it well, if not call on another teacher for help.) Another school along the same lines is Oakhurst Elementary in SW Largo. There is also one in eastern Clearwater, off of McMullen Booth Rd. somewhere. My point being, there are several public schools all over the county that cater to the spectrum. Not to mention, several that aren't public. There are grants and scholarships (For instance, the McKay scholarship) that will pay for your child to go to a private school if he/she has special needs (and qualifies).

Don't let the system push you around, you make sure you get what you need. I've had to make multiple calls to several different offices until I talk to the right person. Just keep calling and calling and pushing until you get the answer you want. Sometimes it can take a while to get where you need to be, it is a government office after all, but don't give up, keep trying.

If you can, come to our meeting tomorrow at the Pinellas Park Library at 6:45 (kids are welcome!!) and we can talk more about this. I'll be there!

3 Re: New and having a hard time on Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:33 am

man of a million names


Hi, I'm Chris, I'm kinda short on time here, so I wanted to introduce myself. I've read some of the first post, about the RTI program, and that your name is Heide, and you have a son with Aspergers'. I myself have it and I'm 14, so being in school myself I though I could be useful. I'll talk more tomorrow. Bye. Have a good night.

4 Re: New and having a hard time on Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:56 am

man of a million names


Okay, well, it seems Kelley has really covered a lot of it, because I'm not really a subject of witnessing the school system as much as I am a victim of it. I don't look at it from the view a parent does, so if there's any kind of problem, I don't see it. My Aspergers' is very light, so I've manageged to stay out of and Spec Ed., which I'm glad of, because frankly, I'm a bit frightened of the Spec Ed. children, not only because I think I could get hurt, but all of the kids really aren't very apt to come out of their groups to befriend one in SE, and if you don't already know that, please, understand that it is very true. So if you put your son in there, keep in mind, if and when he realizes how different he is from the other children, and when he understand the meanings of what they're saying if they pick on him, he will most likely be upset. I'm not, in any way, I assure you, saying your son is deficient in understanding and interacting with other children, just that it will be troublesome for him when he knows he's being made fun of, if he is. I hope he never is, because it's not a fun journey through adolescence, as you know, being a teenager yourself once. It should be made as comforting and smooth as possible, especially since he has AS. Now, I've had a lot of experience with battling through the teenage struggles of school with AS, and although your son isn't even ten, some of this could be helpful. I'm trying to be very unbiased here, so if I make any mistake like that, it is unintentional. Always reinforce that your son can always talk to you, and always ask about his day. Ask who he sat with at lunch, what he did at recess, etc., because all of those things will let you know how school is going and how much trouble it is, and hopefully it won't be a problem soon, and throughout Jr. High and High school. Now, when you know whether or not the other children are treating him well, it might be a good idea to involve him in some sports, if he wans to and if the school he's going to is at least Division III. I go to a DIII school, and I'm involved in Cross-Country and Track and Field, and it has helped me amazingly, especially being it's not as big as DI. I'm not saying get him involved in any extreme excercise sports like that yet, really I wouldn't reccommend any running at all for excercise yet, but see if you can get him involved in Basketball, Football, or, and especially, Soccer. Soccer is a very good sport, not hard to get established at, and any kind of activity that could get him socially jump-started will have very noticable results in the future. But how does all of this relate to school being a problem? Well, it may not be that lack of social development is much the problem, but it will help him sort through any problems better, and it will help him meet new people and build socializing skills. As for finding out and helping the problem, Always talk to him, and try to lean towards school-subjected conversations, so that he will become more able to talk about school. I've read some of the million library books my mom has lying around the house, so I've adapted to some of the tactics she uses from the parenting books, and I know when she's using them. And books are probably one of the best places to find helpful information really. So try to read as many books on parenting and AS. I'm a very busy bee recently, so I don't really have time to tell more, especially being in a house with two other teenage boys and a computer-obsessed mother. I'll try to tell more tomorrow. Hope the information given was helpful and thorough! Have a good night!

5 Re: New and having a hard time on Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:24 am

Dr. Ron

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Hi Heide, Dr. Ron here. We understand and deal with this issue almost every support meeting we have. I wish I had a better answer for you; we are a relative new organization and are looking to help each other. Sometimes I feel like you do. It is sad however we are making headway....thanks to people like Kim, Kellly, MOMN, Val and others. As we each gather strength in numbers we will succeed. Stay the course. Dr. Ron

6 Re: New and having a hard time on Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:41 am

man of a million names


Hey, what about me dammit? I deserve some clarification. I happen to think I've become rather popular on here. And lookie- I've had more posts than you, and I've been here for a shorter amount of time. So not only is it people like Kim, Kelley, MOMN, and Val, but me also. I may not be at the meetings in body there in Florida, but I assure you, I am there in mind, Dr. Ron.

I actually don't care, I just want my name mentioned. Smile

7 Re: New and having a hard time on Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:55 pm

Dr. Ron

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Hi Man of a million names, I sort of did mention you, in an abbreviated way so to speak. I used "MOMN" (Man Of a Million Names) as my reference to you; I just didn't spell out the whole name. I always like your posts; thanks for being with us.
Dr. Ron Very Happy

8 Re: New and having a hard time on Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:23 pm

KelleyNNelson

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Heh... I posted something similar, I just didn't hit reply fast enough. Thanks Dr. Ron for the clarification. BTW, his real name is Chris if you hadn't caught it already. Smile

9 Re: New and having a hard time on Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:40 am

man of a million names


Oh, haha, I'm an idiot. Hahahaha! LMAO. Embarassed I thought MOMN was some sort of other association. I kinda take things that are abbreviated as companies or programs or something. I'm just used to things being like that. Like FBI and, oh how this make no sense, HBOT. Hyberbaric is one word. But I guess HOT (HBOT without the B, just to be thorough) wouldn't be particularly, uh, accepted, by too many people. But still, 'hyperbaric' is one word. It just seems illogical. But that brings us back to the word that means the same thing as 'sexy,' so it's paradoxically illogically logical. But anyways, sorry. And yeah, like Kelley said, my name is Chris, so for future reference, let's just stick to real names, and avoid screennames. I think incidents like this won't happen quite so often. And you're welcome for all the posts. I try to be as helpful as possible. We aspies are supposed so be 'little Einsteins,' as I'm pretty sure Hans Asperger said, and Einstein was quite the thinker, so I think it would be a waste not to put my inner genius to use and give some ideas.

I hope the false hysteria of before in my previous post will be dismissed as what it is: an Aspian (See below, for I'm not sure how to do footnotes...) mishap. I just assumed capital letters meant something rather then someone. I'm pretty sure a neurotypical wouldn't do that. It takes me forever to figure out anything in text messaging format. Someone once said 'g2g' to me, and it took me 20 minutes of at those letters to figure it out. So hopefully my sly reasoning will heave some of the fault off of my shoulders. Smile

(See Kim and Kelley, here's a great example of how 'aspian' could be used much more effieciently than something so awful to the ears as 'Asperger-ish.' I vote the usage of Aspian. And if you guys disagree, screw you. Just kidding, but you still get the point.)

10 My experience down the same path....... on Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:06 am

snb79


Hello Heide,

My son was in a charter school for the majority of first grade and they were not letting me know how bad things had truly gotten until my son already hated school and at this point the RTI process hadn't even started. I decided I wasn't going to wait around while they went through their overly long process so, I got an outside evaluation for my son and in under a month my son was evaluated, diagnosed, Care meeting conducted, IEP meeting conducted, and my son was switched to a new school. I know some people are not in a position where they can get a private evaluation done however, if you are I strongly suggest it. The charter school my son was attending was a huge reason for the behaviors that surfaced but they were also very helpful in placing my soon in the proper setting although, it is not turning out to be the proper setting this year due to restructure which is the most recent battle I'm facing and fighting.

11 Re: New and having a hard time on Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:40 am

lovethefish


Thank you all for the replies. Sadly we're not nearly as far along as I thought. Such a rollar coaster. I've spoken with Val who gave me some GREAT Advice and I think now I understand the process a little more and we're on our way to get the advocate. Hopefully something will happen soon. :-)

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