or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Special Needs Parenting › Autism and preschool?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Autism and preschool?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
If you have a child with autism (and I do realize they are each individuals, so no one choice is going to be right for everyone..)

what did you do about preschool? At what age did you start school? In what type of environment? Do you homeschool? etc. Why?

Just wondering what other families do. We're leaning towards a mix of extended early intervention services, a tiny amount of preschool, and maybe a home program of some sort, for DS (who is almost 3)..

but I am .. sort of surprised.. by many professionals (EI, peds, specialists) insistence that as much preschool as possible right at age 3 is the way to go..
post #2 of 15
You need to be flexible and creative to find what works best for your child. We tried a bunch of different strategies when DS1 was 3 years old. He was having frequent panic attacks and had lots of phobias then. All the specialists said he needed preschool, but that was a disaster. Homeschooling didn't work, either. I enrolled him in a non-profit private co-op preschool because it it offered the most flexibility & least pressure (2 hours, 2 mornings/week). I acted as his one-on-one aide there. When he understood what preschool was, we moved to a school district with an excellent autism preschool program. We eased him into the program, adding a few minutes every time he went. Within 6 weeks, he was ready to attend that preschool for 3.5 hours, 4 days/week. He thrived in that program and was mainstreamed for elementary school. He really needed the therapeutic environment (one hour of one-on-one speech every day, plus OT & one-on-one tutoring for basic skills), but it had to be on terms that he understood.
post #3 of 15
I homeschooled my DD until she was 12 and I now regret that decision. Although it worked out well for her academically, it didn't give her the kind of opportunities to see other kids interacting and to have other adults work with her.

If I had it to do over again, I would put her in a program for autistic children. I believe she would be doing better now if I had.

She'll be attending an alternative school this fall.
post #4 of 15
Our special needs preschool program at the time my son was three was not a good environment or with much for services so my decision was pretty easy at that point. We did RDI at home and I got private OT and Speech at the time as well. We now just do RDI and homeschool academics though at times I think of doing OT again. It's been the right choice for this child certainly but every child and family is different. It's sometimes hard, though, to go against the grain and in some areas the special needs preschool enrollments are expected. Try to think about how your child's specific needs are best met rather than the pressure or advice you might be getting one way or the other. Also realize you can always change things if what you first select isn't working.
post #5 of 15
DS started in the EI toddler class at age two and a half. This was actually before we had the ASD disgnosis, but the EI therapists strongly suspected it. It was half days (2.5 hours) M-Th.

At age 3 he transitioned to the public school's preschool, which was run on the same schedule (half days, 4 days a week). DS loved going to preschool and made really good progress there. He got speech, OT, and APE (adaptive phys ed) services and benefitted a lot from the inclusion setting.

We also looked at a private autism school in our area. We could have sent DS there using the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program, but decided the public school program was a better fit for his specific needs.

We also did private speech and OT. Additionally I did 10-15 hours a week of at home ABA/VB with him.

DS was in Kindy last year and was placed in a K-2 Autism classroom that uses the TEACCH methodology. All of the students in his class are high-functioning, but are not yet ready for a mainstream classroom environment. DS made amazing progress last year in kindy and will be in the same classroom again this year for 1st grade.
post #6 of 15
We started my son at an early intervention playgroup at 2...it was a fail. Most of the kids were there for mild speech delays or some physical issues such as motor control. My son had autism and the teachers always complained that he was never social and they needed an extra person there just for him (uh, duh. Of course he wasn't social you stinks!). I ended up staying to be the extra person, but at the end of 6 weeks, they said he wasn't a good fit and asked him not to return. Yeah, that was our COUNTY early intervention.

At 3, we tried him in a mainstream cooperative preschool. Again, fail. He went for a full year, but he was basically on the outside of everything and they just let him do what he wanted, even if that was sliding belly first across the tables other kids were working on. They made no attempt to work with him at all. After a year, they told us that he was not going to be accepted the next year.

We took his 4 year old year off and did homeschooling.

At 5, we put him in a full day 5 day a week mainstream Montessori school on the Ohio Autism Scholarship program. He *thrived* there. We kept him in there for kindy, and now he'll be in there for primary. He did very well at this Montessori school (we also do private behavior, social skills, and OT, so he leaves school for the first two therapies and his OT meets him at school.)
post #7 of 15
hey ohio mamas, just curious if either of you are in cincinnati??

my dd is almost four, and so far i've kept her home. i'm about to start rdi, and she does an ot/social skills class once a week.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nayma View Post
hey ohio mamas, just curious if either of you are in cincinnati??

my dd is almost four, and so far i've kept her home. i'm about to start rdi, and she does an ot/social skills class once a week.

Nope, I'm in the Columbus area. (Actually, about 30 minutes east of Columbus, but we go to north columbus for therapies.)
post #9 of 15
My DS's progress was sa-loooooww goin' in EI, but once he started at a special needs preschool 2 mornings/week 5 weeks ago, I am amazed. He starts 4 mornings a week in September, he absolutely loves school!....It's Mumma who has a problem with how it's run, I'm debating on switching to another school, the communication I'm getting at his current one has me on edge!

I nearly fainted when I read Autism Montessori, now nice!
post #10 of 15
My 2 eldest children with autism both entered the pre-k ESE program run by the public school system (IDEA Part B) at the age of 3yrs when they transitioned out of our states' birth to 3 program (IDEA Part C). My youngest who has an ASD diagnosis was enrolled in our local headstart program. While we did not qualify for the program because our income was greater than the max eligibility criteria, we were able to enroll him because all federally funded programs are required to have at least 10% of their student population be students with disabilities. The teacher-student ratio was 4 to 1 and it was a great setting for him to get and learn about social interaction and daily living skills through role modeling of his peers. Now that he is phasing out of Part C, we are transitioning him into our local elementary school in their pre-k ESE program.

For my children, being enrolled in the programs with trained and experienced teachers has been very beneficial. It was important for them to have peers available that the teachers and aides could use as role models since my children learn better through visual methods.
post #11 of 15
DS didn't go to preschool until age 4, after he was diagnosed autistic. His preschool was so fantastic for him I still regret not getting him that extra year of it at age 3.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nayma View Post
hey ohio mamas, just curious if either of you are in cincinnati??
We're in the Dayton area. We go the the Autism Expo in Cincy every year.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm having a very tough time with this decision. In my state, I can elect to extend DS IFSP and continue to get ST, Special Ed, OT, etc through the county. Or, I can choose to go to IEP at this point, over to the school system, and do preschool.

The preschool they are offering is 5 days a week for half days. He's going from "no school" to that. It feels like a big jump.

The county is having him join a little "transition preschool" they do through the EI program, but he can't start that until Sept, and then the start of preschool would be end of Nov. for him (late birthday). I have considered starting him in Jan., just after the holidays..

He is sensitive and his biggest challenge with his autism is emotional regulation. I worry about how they will help him regulate (or not).

They want self-contained special ed for him (because it's easy - my "home school" only has self-contained special ed), but I could push for inclusion in a different school.

He has a late birthday, so I guess I was trying to talk myself into hey, we can wait a year.. do a 2-3 day a week thing.. somewhere.. enroll him into this preschool at 4 - and 5 - and then at 6 he'd go to kindergarten.

At the heart of my conflict: Minus an ASD diagnosis? I was not wanting to send my child to school at age 3. And the emotional regulation piece - if he cries for 2 weeks but then gets over it, does that make it OK? I'm not a CIO-er, we practice AP.. the school system keeps telling me "he'll get over it, therefore it's OK" and I'm just not connecting to that.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by firsttimemama View Post
If you have a child with autism (and I do realize they are each individuals, so no one choice is going to be right for everyone..)

what did you do about preschool? At what age did you start school? In what type of environment? Do you homeschool? etc. Why?

Just wondering what other families do. We're leaning towards a mix of extended early intervention services, a tiny amount of preschool, and maybe a home program of some sort, for DS (who is almost 3)..

but I am .. sort of surprised.. by many professionals (EI, peds, specialists) insistence that as much preschool as possible right at age 3 is the way to go..


DD started preschool at age three. I had a lot of hesitation about it, but it was a good move. We sent her half days to preschool. We opted to go for a private preschool with a privately paid aide. It was very expensive to pay privately for services, but we were unhappy with our IEP offer from the public school district. We were in a fight with them. Anyway, the private preschool was nice. DD liked it there. In retrospect, I don't think it was the best fit for her. She didn't get any OT from the school. She didn't get much speech therapy either. It was just a nice fun place to spend part of the day. But our kids need more than just a nice fun place for part of the day.

The following year, we got a great IEP offer from the public school. DD was placed in a lovely inclusion classroom of a typical preschool where she was the only child on the spectrum. The other kids were typical although 2-3 kids had mild speech delays. The classroom had two teachers. One of the teachers was an experienced special ed teacher and she was/is awesome. She taught DD so much - writing, drawing, interacting, etc. I could see a world of difference in this teacher's ability to teach versus the teacher in a nice private preschool for typical kids. It's not that the teacher in the private preschool was bad. She was used to teaching typical kids. She didn't have that experience to teach a child who had SN. But the public school SpEd teacher "got" DD and her learning style. She had worked with so many kids like my child that she knew what teaching methods to use.

I used to think that putting DD in a typical setting with a typical teacher was all that she would need, but the reality is an experienced trained teacher who understands special ed issues can make a world of difference. DD is in preschool this year. It's an inclusion setting. She gets pulled out for extra help with learning in math and writing, but the rest of the time she's with typical peers. She also gets about 10-15 hours of ABA/VB at home.

OP - The goal of an IEP should be the least restrictive environment. Is the LRE for your child a fully self-contained classroom? I would push for an inclusion setting with adequate supports in place versus a FSC. What I love about an inclusion classroom is that there are typical peers for interaction, but DD is also supported because there is a SpED teacher plus an aide to help her if she needs extra help with something. They give her sensory breaks. They know how to redirect her. That kind of knowledge and experience is invaluable.
post #15 of 15
Mine entered EI services at 11mo and from that point on it was insisted that he had to be exposed to "typically developing age-peers"... which we diligently did. We only did full-time for one year but I have to say that by the time he was 4yo, we'd had it. He's been home since then and is now 6-1/2yo. About 6mo ago, his dx was lifted with the caveat that at 8yo he would likely be dx'd with Asperger's.

The preschool "disabled" classroom wasn't a good fit for him and we knew it (and so did the preschool teacher) so we tried a mixed preschool classroom for him. After that, we tried a mainstream school with a very different kind of teaching philosophy. That one was the worst because they really just pigeon-holed our son. Then we went with a small Montessori only to find that he sat in the book nook the entire time he was there.

So he came home and I took him to the school for his therapies. THAT did not go over well with the schools. In their eyes--you're not qualified to deal with your SN child. Period. Now... I'm a licensed teacher with additional graduate credits in SpEd and specifically teaching kids with autism. Didn't matter: they needed the social aspect. EVERY child in the spectrum could only benefit from the social aspect of the classroom.

Well... notsomuch. And I have to say that my son has benefited IMMENSELY by NOT being in the classroom. I'll share why in case it helps anyone:

While at home, my son had 1-on-1 social training. Additionally, that social training was acceptable to his parents and in line with what they found to be socially acceptable because we were the teachers.

My son went everywhere with me and watched me interact with all kinds of people. If he wanted to interact with them, I was right there to supervise and if need be, correct him. When he was on the playground or in a play group, I was able to see--first-hand--what transpired so that I could work through it with him while it was fresh in his mind, based on what ACTUALLY happened vs. what he could remember and/or his teacher could remember (or actually witnessed). If he got his feelings hurt, I could address the "what can we do different" things right then and there. I didn't intervene much, but being able to see what was going on and correct HIS memory of it to get to the heart of matters was a big deal.

I can honestly say that there's no way in heck he'd have had that kind of socialization in a classroom. Not ever. And two years later, I finally feel like he is socialized enough that he COULD be in a classroom now. I don't suspect that would've been the case if he'd attended a classroom program.

Now, admittedly, I'm at home full-time and we are not "stay at home" people... so he did get out and about to get those experiences. And I have a 21mo dd which has intermittently made it a little difficult. But things are good overall. And the district no longer argues with me much.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Special Needs Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Special Needs Parenting › Autism and preschool?