ONE STEP AT A TIME has always been our mantra on this journey thru Autism. My husband and I have always been goal setters and planners. This means that learning to take a step back and focus on life a single day at a time has been a challenge. A challenge God spent many years preparing us for.
I always thought the big lesson in our life was to learn patience, and trust in the Lord. Not to say that those are not the lessons we’ve learned along the way, but they were BONUS lessons. The biggest lesson for us has been to SLOW DOWN. The future will take care of itself. Focus on the work for TODAY.
Matthew 6:23 says it best:
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Our son was the motivation and the reason for these lessons. Once we began therapy he showed rapid improvement in all areas. We worked hard, and he worked harder.
A few months before our son’s 3rd birthday we took him to the local public preschool for a special education assessment. This was a 3-step assessment that involved an interview to asses his social skills and look for red flags, a “test” booklet that I took home to complete, and a return to the school for an academic evaluation. I cannot begin to list the differences in his performance for this assessment verses his previous assessment with our county Regional Center. Previously, there had been little to no compliance to the demands they made and the activities they tried to get him to preform. His play was completely self-directed and his communication was non-existent. For the first interview of these, he complied with almost every demand, he only required slight prompting, and he communicated well. The take-home test was a bit daunting, but is an easy set of questions asking about self-care, behaviors at home, sensory issues, and communication. The academic evaluation was a disaster. He was completely non-compliant, and never even got started with the first task.
He received an educational diagnosis by the school system that enabled him to receive services through our school district. This is a diagnosis that it independent from a medical diagnosis, and I can tell you that this version of a diagnosis is great for establishing in-school services quickly and without a lot of complications. However, it will not qualify you for services, or coverage by your insurance company if you choose to seek supplemental services. For that you will need a medical diagnosis.
Our son presented symptoms most aligned with Pervasive Developmental Disorder(PDD). This is a high functioning form of Autism that is different from the more well known Asperger syndrome. With a global intensive therapy program started at an early age, most PDD diagnosed children are “unlabeled” by the school system in their early elementary school years. This is a process we began early on and worked WONDERS!!
While the years have passes since we began this journey, and the services and therapies have evolved as he has progressed and regressed. We maintain that each day is the focus. There are large amounts of work to be done, and today needs all of my focus and energy to make that work the most effective it can be.
What about you? How does your school system support students with Autism?