Advocate- Special Education

Advocate

You are your child’s advocate in any level of planning meetings, the professionals do want good things for your child. But it is within the framework of what is best for themselves and their institution.
My son required quite extensive interventions when he was younger. In home therapy, early childhood, speech, OT, etc. We were so blessed that he made so much progress that his needs fell away. At one point, the only thing addressed on the iep was speech and he did not really need that. It was clear that they wanted to keep him in special education to keep that special education money.
Sometimes, it works the opposite. Professionals want to do what will save money and manpower by not giving your child what they need.
Sometimes the plan they want to enact is simply not a good one for your child. Even if they begin to cringe when they see you, you have a strong voice in the plan. If they are not working in the BEST interests of your child, there is a process and ways to fix that.

Everyone is The Same

“I am different not less.” – Temple Grandin

People with mental illness and people with a disability are no different from anyone else. They do the same thing everyone else does. It is only that life and chemistry makes their actions extreme. A person may hear voices. You may not, but you do have an internal monologue that talks to you. There are many people in a mental hospital that cut themselves. Many people do not. But they do self-destructive things. Everyone thinks of suicide. Because of depression. Chemical imbalances make that desire stronger.
Children with autism may twirl their fingers. It is self-stimulation. A way to calm down. If everyone took note, they would see something they do similar things. Hair twirling. Pen cap chewing. Beard stroking. A child with autism may become violent. People have violent tendencies. Because they know of social conventions, they suppress it. A child with autism may hit a teacher. His or her reactions are extreme, but everyone has physically fought with a sibling (maybe at age 2). But they are in school, they know that is not social correct to hit a teacher. That they will get in trouble.
It is difficult, but everyone needs to learn that mental illness is just that. An illness. We don’t make fun of a person with cancer. We do not shun them or think them as weird. Mental illness is not the person’s fault.

Know the Child- IEP

The one thing that bugged me the most at my sons IEPs were the experts that liked to spout information about autism. He needs this as children with autism are low toned. Its important that you have a lot of knowledge when working with autism. We need experts.
However, it does not help that much in making decisions. In deciding what is best for the child in question. Because every child is different, you need to know the child.
Teachers are taught to respect and include parents in planning meetings. I think they still often fall short. However, they are important because they know the child the best.
Professionals, I think, do not look to the parents because they often do not have the cache of information on autism that they do. That info is great for guidance, but for every generalization made (yes by me included, there are just as many exceptions).

I know this because at my son’s IEP, I saw how the professionals talked. They did not know that I had that same information. I did not confront them, but I did not need to. They were able to get my child’s educational needs met.

How Dare They

Interactions with people are a difficult, complex thing. However, we do it pretty well. Before we say something, we consider how we would take that comment. Cause and effect teaches us that this comment will make someone feel good and this comment will make someone mad.

A person with autism has trouble with this. They say what is one their mind because they cannot predict how someone else thinks (to generalize). They do not see social constructs.

. Otherwise you leave them in the dark of what is wrong. Focus on helping them not make the mistake with someone else.

Autism- Adult Supervision

John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eyes, talked about his Asperger’s syndrome going undiagnosed. A great book and in it he talks about the adults being the only ones that interacted with him due to his social skills.

He gives great anecdotes about how hard it was to interact with him.

People with autism can be challenging. However, as adults, we can handle it. When behaviors get on our nerves, we need to be the ones that keep them from isolation.

Their behaviors are not a choice to be naughty. They can be organic and they can be learned. They may make comments that are insensitive because they cannot predict how it will be taken.

Those behaviors may need to be ignored. However, we need to make sure the person behind those behaviors are also not ignored.

People with autism can do or say things that are annoying. At times they may drive peers away and sometimes they do not know how to engage with peers, but want to. They gravitate towards the adults they know because adults know the importance of being kind.

You do not know how important you might be to someone without positive relationships.

Adult Supervision

Adult Supervision

John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eyes, talked about his asperger’s syndrome going undiagnosed. A great book and in it he talks about the adults being the only ones that interacted with him due to his social skills.
People with autism can be challenging. However, as adults, we can handle it. When behaviors get on our nerves, we need to be the ones that keep them from isolation.
Their behaviors are not a choice to be naughty. They can be organic and they can be learned. They may make comments that are insensitive because they cannot predict how it will be taken.
Those behaviors do not need to be ignored. However, we need to make sure the person behind those behaviors are also not ignored. You do not know how important you might be to someone without positive relationships.

Autism-Sensory Overload

Sensory Overload-

Everyone can get frustrated at noise or lights. People with autism are especially sensitive to it. Your mind has the ability to filter out an extraneous sound or a slight flicker to a light. However, a person with autism may not. It may be a trigger for them and it may not be obvious to neuro-typical person.

I have read experiences with kids where they are screaming and crying and it turns out they are upset about a machine in the other room or the flicker of lights. Most often, I think that they are responding to internal stimuli or that it is a behavioral response. They are trying to gain or avoid something. yet it is something to consider.

People with autism may not have a mind that can filter out what is important. They put as much attention to the electric fan going as the sound of your voice. The chair is as important as your face. They take in sensory input and cannot prioritize.

That is why they cannot identify social cues.

Autism- Some Thoughts

(disclaimer: I am going to generalize for simplicity sake. Autism affects every person different. They have their own set of skills and deficits, like everyone).

Remaining calm:
One of the significant problems of autism is the sensory. They do not filter out input the way a typical person does.That is why you will see a person with autism wearing headphones. They are extra sensitive to sounds.

They are extra sensitive to all sensory input.

That is why it is important to be calm when dealing with children with autism. Sometimes this can be impossible, but they do respond to calmness. If you can maintain a low heartbeat, slow breathing and a calm expression, their body will try to match it.

So if you can, sit close to them and remain calm and remain safe, then they will respond. However, you have to use caution. This leaves you open for a hit or bite.

Choose safety first.

After All, we have all been so angry we have wanted to hit someone or something. The thing that stops us is we identify others feelings and we know the social norms.
These are two things children with autism have difficulty with.
If you are upset, you will give off cues. Those cues come at a child with no filter strongly and there body gets even more overloaded.

This is why (and it is hard), as a aprent you should look into respite time. Autism is hard on you health and your marriage. Take help so that you can be at your best.