Kindergarden Placement:Autistic Cluster vs Mainstream

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BlueTurtle
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31 May 2007, 8:13 am

I'm going against the schools recommendation that my 5yo continue in her autistic cluster when she starts kindergarden. I've enrolled her in a performing/fine arts magnet program instead. I guess I'm just looking for some opinions/feedback especially from people on the spectrum. She could definitely use some time with gen ed kids because she's been imitating some of the lower functioning kids in her class and she's been in a class with all boys for the last 2 years. I can see why they recommended placing her in a cluster, she's verbal but not alot of back and forth conversation and difficulty with answering questions unless they're yes/no. She is easily distracted and will probably have difficulty staying in her seat and actually doing her work even though she's capable. Because she is bright I think that a gen ed setting will do her good because she needs to be pushed. She can read already and I'm working with her at home on other skills she'll need so she's ahead academically but it's her social/behavior that might be a problem. She'll be starting a summer pre-K program at the school on Tuesday and it's all gen ed kids (although 2 kids from her cluster might be in her class) so it will be like testing the waters. Any and all opinions/comments are welcome.



Sopho
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31 May 2007, 8:23 am

I was OK in mainstream schooling until I got to about 12. My Aspergers is not very severe though and I was unaware of it as a kid. I think you should do what you see as th best option for her; you will know your own daughter better than anyone else can so as long as you look at the benefits and any possible problems of both options, then you can make a well informed decision based on what you think is right yourself. To me it sounds like you're right about her using some time with general ed kids.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do anyway. Sorry I can't be of much help, but I wish you the best for you nd your daughter. :)



Danielismyname
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31 May 2007, 8:30 am

I was dandy up until puberty; that’s when everyone started acting differently.

I had trouble with listening to the authority figures, i.e., I’d hear them but I wouldn’t acknowledge their existence a lot of the time, I did do basic banter and I had friends..., they were good times. I even did well in school, apart from an early difficulty with reading, which was rectified with a massive amount of tuition from my mother and teacher over the Christmas holidays.

This is all mainstream schooling, I wasn’t diagnosed until a couple of months back....



schleppenheimer
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31 May 2007, 11:59 am

BlueTurle -- I think you're doing absolutely the right thing. You want your child to learn behaviors from peers who are higher than her on the spectrum, or not even on the spectrum. Otherwise, how will she learn correct behavior? We are currently pulling our 11 year old, who is starting middle school next year, more and more out of learning support and more and more into general ed. We've seen that if he continues in learning support, there tends to be more behavior problems (with him, really, not the other kids) because he's smart and can see that he is allowed to do less and less there. In general ed, we feel that he will realize that he has to do things on his own.

Danielismyname AND Sopho --

So if you were OK in mainstream schooling until puberty, were all the problems after that social problems? Or did you have schooling problems as well? So far, our son seems to be doing OK socially, but I'm preparing for the BIG changes next year of social problems where the lion's share of the kids are maturing much faster than my son. I'm trying to prep him for reading and testing difficulties during the summer, much like your mother and teacher, Danielismyname, and I'm going to TRY to do some social skills training as well. But I'm a parent, and not in the thick of things as to what is socially OK in middle school, and what's really taboo.

Kris



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31 May 2007, 12:02 pm

I think there are more opportunities in mainstream so long as the behaviour doesn't become too much of a negative issue.
I worked for a number of years in special ed and had so many arguements about how the kids were underevaluated (I didn't know I was AS at the time but this may be why I related so well to the kids and could pick up more about them than other staff). The brighter ones were not challenged either as in contrast they seemed to be doing really well but comparison to mainstream would have shown a massive gap.


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SolaCatella
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31 May 2007, 6:29 pm

My AS went undiagnosed until twelve and while my elementary school wanted to move me to the special ed class, my mother fought it. Honestly, I didn't notice anything weird--but I was bussed off to a different school with a class for all the "gifted and talented" kids in the county. Half of us had AD(H)D and there were at least three other kids diagnosed later with AS (including two of my close friends, not including me), so it wasn't precisely Normal City, mind. I did okay, but I really didn't start intellectually spreading out until I hit high school and started being challenged. (It's funny, I seem to have been different from the rest of you--I struggled through elementary and middle school, then was diagnosed with AS and started being asked to think and work and pulled an abrupt about-face.) Socially I've never really struggled, mainly because I've just never felt a part of the social scene at school. I have a couple of friends who I feel strongest loyalty to (and know it is returned) and I've never cared about gossip so long as others have the decency to keep it behind my back where I can ignore it.

Honestly, I think that not being intellectually challenged is going to be the worst thing that could happen--I'm with schleppenheimer there. When I'm not given interesting things to learn or I stop respecting my teachers, I begin shutting down in school--I will test my limits, see what I can get away with, and generally ignore the teacher. I've found that I do well in gifted classes or higher-level classes for precisely that reason. And I also agree with schleppenheimer that being with NT peers will help her learn more typical behavior; in middle school, I made several friends who have helped me to figure out what is and isn't "normal"--sort of--over the years. I doubt I'd have had the skills I've picked up from them in an AS-specific environment.


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Sopho
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31 May 2007, 6:39 pm

schleppenheimer wrote:
Danielismyname AND Sopho --

So if you were OK in mainstream schooling until puberty, were all the problems after that social problems? Or did you have schooling problems as well? So far, our son seems to be doing OK socially, but I'm preparing for the BIG changes next year of social problems where the lion's share of the kids are maturing much faster than my son. I'm trying to prep him for reading and testing difficulties during the summer, much like your mother and teacher, Danielismyname, and I'm going to TRY to do some social skills training as well. But I'm a parent, and not in the thick of things as to what is socially OK in middle school, and what's really taboo.

Kris

My main problem then was that I started to realise how different I was from everyone else my age. And because I wasn't diagnosed with AS till a few months ago (I'm nearly 19 now) this just confused me and made me depressed. So because I couldn't explain it or understand why I was different, I ended up becoming very withdrawn and doing badly in school even though I was intelligent. I think that as long as your son knows about his AS, that will help him with the problems I had. I didn't really have that many major social problems as I didn't go out much. I didn't have to worry about peer pressure, drugs etc because I wasn't interested in going to parties and took no notice of most of those kind of things. When I was around 12/13 I came across as quite weird to others at my school though. I didn't understand how I was supposed to act and I didn't even realise that I was getting it wrong and looking strange. I think as long as you prepare him and help him understand any problems he might have and why other kids act how they act sometimes, he will be OK.



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31 May 2007, 6:53 pm

Sopho wrote:
I didn't really have that many major social problems as I didn't go out much. I didn't have to worry about peer pressure, drugs etc because I wasn't interested in going to parties and took no notice of most of those kind of things.


That was my social problem. My mother couldn't understand why I never went out or had any friends and thought I was a loser or some kind of leper. Now that I want to try and socialise more it is difficult because I don't have the experience and I don't know how to act so I probably appear strange to my peer group.


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Sopho
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31 May 2007, 6:56 pm

JakeG wrote:
Sopho wrote:
I didn't really have that many major social problems as I didn't go out much. I didn't have to worry about peer pressure, drugs etc because I wasn't interested in going to parties and took no notice of most of those kind of things.


That was my social problem. My mother couldn't understand why I never went out or had any friends and thought I was a loser or some kind of leper. Now that I want to try and socialise more it is difficult because I don't have the experience and I don't know how to act so I probably appear strange to my peer group.

That was the same with me. Although I don't really have any desire to socialise right now anyway so it's not a problem at the moment. That could change though if I do end up wanting to go out more.



JakeG
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31 May 2007, 10:20 pm

Sopho wrote:
JakeG wrote:
Sopho wrote:
I didn't really have that many major social problems as I didn't go out much. I didn't have to worry about peer pressure, drugs etc because I wasn't interested in going to parties and took no notice of most of those kind of things.


That was my social problem. My mother couldn't understand why I never went out or had any friends and thought I was a loser or some kind of leper. Now that I want to try and socialise more it is difficult because I don't have the experience and I don't know how to act so I probably appear strange to my peer group.

That was the same with me. Although I don't really have any desire to socialise right now anyway so it's not a problem at the moment. That could change though if I do end up wanting to go out more.


It isn't even a going out thing...I just feel lonely and don't want to spend the rest of my life being alone and having nobody to talk to.


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