Schooling for my 4 yr old autistic angel - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-21-2013, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,
This is my first post on here, I have learned a lot listening to the discussions. I have a 4 yr old daughter with autism currently in an inclusive pre - K program and are looking to relocate to a different county with a breadth of service and opportunities for her. I recently learned about montessori and wonder if it will be a good fit for her - I currently have no experience with montessori beside what I have read so far. We have both private and public montessori schools in the area . The private school program looks great, would stress me financially but I am willing to pay if it will benefit my daughter. I like the idea of smaller class rooms, individualized teaching, and being around older kids to model after. However, I am unsure of what additional services she will get in the private sector though...She currently gets speech and OT at her public school.

On the other hand, I've been looking into our public magnet montessori school as an affordable alternative. I really like the montessori model but I am unsure of how authentic the environment will be given that it's a fusion of public curriculum. Certain public schools in our area have inclusive programs but this school is not one of them - so not sure exactly how her needs will be met. Obviously, I plan on visiting the schools and talking to the teachers but can anyone give me any guidance regarding the above schools- pros/cons? confused.gif:

About my daughter, she is high functioning and reads at a grade 1-2 level. Her primary issues are with speech (specifically expressive) delay. She is quite affectionate with good eye contact but has some rigidity around routines. She is very playful with her older brother but does not seek out other kids without prompting. She is also very stubborn, which has nothing to do with her autism and everything to do with being a 4 yr old smile.gif

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#2 of 7 Old 05-23-2013, 05:38 PM
 
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Hello and welcome! My signature is about school options -- there really are pro and cons to everything. thumb.gif

 

My DD has high functioning autism and is now in community college. Along her journey, we public schooled, homeschooled, and private schooled. Part of my advice is to focus on what seems to work for RIGHT NOW and not try to figure out the whole path. Just take it one year at a time.

 

Do you have insurance that will provide some amount of private therapy? My experience is that it is better, and if you can reasonably go private, it would take that part out of your equation.

 

I would check out the magnet Montessori and see what you think. I think it makes sense to try the free options before paying a lot of money. I'm not much of a purist about anything -- I think that often the softening that happens is a benefit, it lessens the excesses of a philosophy.

 

I also think that when it comes to high functioning kids on the spectrum, the ATTITUDE of teacher and other staff are more important than what the school says about its self.  Is your DD in a preschool now? What are her behaviors like? Does she have a tendency to melt down when overwhelmed? School can be overwhelming at times, and routines get changed. I think that how the school would respond to her meltdowns (if she has them) is extremely important. Some schools see these as "discipline" issues and lack an understanding of sensory issues or what it means for someone to be on the spectrum.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 7 Old 05-23-2013, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Linda, thank you so much for your response. My daughter is in pre-K right now and is doing quite well, however I am supplementing with private speech and occupational therapy. I have tried, within her limits, to challenge her at home beyond what they teach in class because she is able to perform better when the information is not new to her. She has an older brother in kindergarten and will often read his books or attempt his homework. She learns a lot through repetition and modeling from others. She can be quite stubborn and gets upset when she gets things wrong but does not go into full tantrums. You are right though, I think the teachers and their patience and ability to coach her through new material is extremely important. I will definitely vet her teachers fully. How is your daughter doing in college?

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#4 of 7 Old 05-25-2013, 07:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Blessing1 View Post

About my daughter, she is high functioning and reads at a grade 1-2 level. Her primary issues are with speech (specifically expressive) delay. She is quite affectionate with good eye contact but has some rigidity around routines.

Hi! Are you familiar with Hyperlexia? Heperlexia is a form of autism that is characterized by the combination of very early reading and difficulties with verbal language. It is a different way of processing language. Children with Hyperlexia often have a distinct learning style and benefit from specific teaching strategies.

My son with autism has Hyperlexia. He is 9 and just finished the 3rd grade. We have found that it has been very important for his teachers to have a strong understand of autism and specially Hyperlexia. He attended the district's integrated preschool and we provided his teachers with information about Hyperlexia. We explained that the written word is the most powerful teaching tool to use with him. They were skeptical at first, but once they saw how the strategies we discussed worked, they were enthusiastic about using them.

I agree with Linda that you need to take it one year at a time. What works well at one level may not work at the next.

My son started reading just after he turned 2, but didn't talk until he was almost 3. Even when he started talking, his use of verbal language was odd and was largely scripted. In preschool he could read (decode) any written work, and his comprehension for non-fiction was at the 1st or 2nd grade level. When he started talking, we discovered that he could count to 9,000. He could do simple arithmetic while in preschool. However, in the 2nd and 3rd grade, the academic work became more abstract and involved less rote memorization. DS struggles with the abstract. So despite being academically advanced in his early years, he has fallen behind his typical peers in some academic areas. I'm not saying this will happen with your DD, just that it does happen with some kids on the autism spectrum. It's one of the reasons why you need to keep an open mind about changing your schooling decisions if your child's needs change.

Lolly
Mom to an amazing little guy, age 9 (Autism, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, Albinism, Chromosome Microdeletion)

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#5 of 7 Old 05-25-2013, 11:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Blessing1 View Post

I have tried, within her limits, to challenge her at home beyond what they teach in class because she is able to perform better when the information is not new to her. ... I will definitely vet her teachers fully. How is your daughter doing in college?

 

 

Yesterday I had lunch with a woman who just did her student teaching in an inclusion classroom and "pre-teaching" is one of the strategies they use. It was interesting to hear her talk about it.

 

I doubt that vetting your DD's teacher's is realistic. You can learn about the school, the program, and the general attitude, but you really aren't picking out one person.  At the school  I work at, they try to match sp. ed. kids who are mainstreamed to the teacher they think would work best for them, but it isn't a parental choice.

 

My DD is doing beautifully in college. She is doing well with having longer breaks of time without people, and having classes that are more intense and focused. She is taking developmental math classes, because this is the only subject she is not ready for college level work, but tested into Honors English. She continues to grow and thrive!


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 7 Old 05-27-2013, 08:38 PM
 
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For my YoungSon with autism, preschool was a breeze. He loved it, and thrived. Kindergarten and 1st and 2nd grade, mainstream with IEP accommodations, didn't teach him anything, but there was no overt behavior issue. He just didn't learn by the methods of any of the classes or teachers I found (several different types, he also had serious dyslexia). 3rd grade was a dismal failure, and I pulled him after a few weeks to homeschool - unschooling is what worked for us. He did great for several years, then rejoined the school system, his choice, at 8th grade, and is currently finishing 10th. Fully mainstreamed, no IEP accommodations. The dyslexia seems to have resolved itself - we tried every specialized program, tutoring, but they really had no impact. At 14, he just suddenly started reading. My point is to reiterate what others said above: the decisions you make today may not be the long term solution for your child. Do what seems best, one year at a time.


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#7 of 7 Old 05-28-2013, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your responses. It gives me great joy to hear about your successes with your dear children, and how you overcame your obstacles. I will take it a day at a time . Iike mamarhu, my daughter is thriving in pre-K and I want to continue this trajectory as much as possible. Unfortunately, home schooling is not an option for me, so I have narrowed down my list of schools and will be attending their open houses. Will provide an update when I can.

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