Autism: C'hele's Story

August 29, 2008

Autism, Adolescence and High School

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 21:00
My daughter turned thirteen this past July. She is currently undergoing a massive transition in her life: she will be entering grade eight and high school. The municipality which we live in, underwent a large change a few years ago- it removed middle schools (grades eight to ten). That obviously means that Michaela will be going to the same high school for the next four years and she has turned into a basket case about this. In all honesty, I have too. In all fairness, I am relieved as it means that we would not have to otherwise prepare for two transitions (primary to middle school and middle school to secondary school). The month of September is going to be pure hell not to mention a write-off. For those who don’t know, my daughter is diagnosed with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome, an anxiety disorder, ADHD, and additional developmental disabilities due to anoxia damage at birth. All of her educational life, Michaela has not known a full-time regular classroom. Michaela has always been integrated in a regular classroom for 1-2 hours the most and has otherwise been in a resource room. Michaela has always been bussed to and from school. Michaela has always had an educational assistant by her side.

This summer, I have had talks with the Special Needs Coordinator of the municipality and she had informed me that Michaela will no longer be bussed to and from school. She will now have to walk. This is impossible I told her. Now that we have moved, high school is a few miles away from us. The school I originally wanted Caela to attend, would have been only a few blocks away but the program is unsuitable for her as it’s a completely modified program for lower cognitively challenged students. So, the co-ordinator tells me that Michaela will have to take REGULAR TRANSIT to and from school. Then she makes me feel bad that I have not been TEACHING HER! You cannot imagine my outrage. The very idea of Caela taking regular transit made me and still makes me ill. Then she tells me THAT ITS TIME that I hire a life-skills worker to work with Caela on this in order to prepare her for next year. Yeah. It would have been nice at least to have a little forewarning regarding this matter. Also its not what she is telling me, its “how” she’s telling me this information. You know, it shouldn’t be a problem since autistic kids learn NEW ROUTINES so quickly not to mention easily (major sarcasm here). I was fortunate to secure the bus for this year only. I had to strongly insist on it. As the old saying goes, the parent who hollers the loudest, gets results first.

The next blow: Michaela will now not be having any additional support in school with an educational assistant due to 66 EA layoffs in the district. Michaela has not known education without the support of an educational assistant. She needs the support.

This particular program that Michaela is now enrolled in, is a career preparation program. Its not a fully modified program however, they‘re going to have to do it for her. A lot of good this program will be- as Michaela suffers enormously from impulsivity issues and has very poor organizational skills.

I’ve been recently informed that the B.C. government has raised the IQ level to 70. This means many special needs individuals will be denied government assistance when they finish high school. The outrage I feel is enormous. The government is well aware that high functioning autistic individuals can be brilliant and intelligent but they are enormously challenged when it comes to life and organizational skills. Without the necessary support, most fail miserably in this department and so many end up on the streets, hooked on drugs and or alcohol.

See below this post for the link to the story regarding the BC government changing the IQ level for special needs individuals.

Currently, my daughter sits just under the 70 IQ percentile. She was just re-assessed before the end of this past June and her psychologist could not stress enough how important it is, to make sure that Michaela be re-tested again before she leaves high school. The psychologist warned me that it is possible that if the government refuses to lower IQ level, Michaela will most likely be denied receiving her disability pension cheque when she becomes 19. I cannot emphasize enough, how important this disability cheque will be to my daughter when she becomes an adult.

My daughter will most likely receive the necessary training at high school that will prepare her for employment. Most individuals who receive this training, hold only part-time employment as most are unable to secure full time due to their cognitive challenges. The additional disability pension assists with paying the bills. Like so many others who suffer from cognitive or neurological challenges, Michaela will not be able to keep full time employment due to her short term memory issues, distractibility, impulsivity issues and poor organizational skills. Unless by some miracle she is able to retrain her mind. Due to her “so-called high IQ” she is now deemed intelligent enough to support herself and live on her own independently. What the government conveniently ignores is that there are many forms of intelligence. Academics is just one of them. What about the other intelligences?

I have to admit, despite all these challenges, it will be interesting to see how Michaela will cope or do when thrust out there on her own in high school. As much I hate to promote this tough love stance, the documented paperwork will be invaluable and in the long run and it will assist her when she becomes an adult.

It will kill me as a parent, to let my special needs child to be put in this position in order to help her in the future. On the other hand, it is important to allow these children opportunities to prove themselves.  Despite all my training and experience I too, need to remind myself of this fact.

I will be for sure, sharing her pain and anxiety for the next long while. Here is the website I wrote about:

 

 

 http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=834f0a78-0de3-488a-a3b7-5b01fe8d20c7

I’ve been having difficulties with this computer and the above link.  Should you not be able to access this link, you can view the article on the Autism Community Training Website  http://www.actcommunity.net/.  The article is on the right hand side of the page. 

 

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8 Comments »

  1. Hey you. Oh man, it seems that you and I are living parallel lives at the moment. I am dealing with the same BS regarding Justin. He is in 8th grade, which is the highest grade in middle school, and doing exceptionally well in his special ed program, which is the best in our county. He is a class leader, getting high grades, actively participates in class and is improving socially, even coming to the aid of a school mate that he didn’t know, who was in need. this is huge. He has never been successful in a regular school setting, and always floundered socially to the point of being completely dysfunctional. All this changed when he entered the program. Then I learned the same thing you did. That for high school next year, and because he is doing so well, he will be sent back to our local high school (which has to be the worst school ever — a friend of mine who teaches English won’t even allow her own son to attend) with limited support, if any. I was blown away. I also understand the need to integrate, and allow our kids to learn to manage life in the real world, but this makes absolutely no sense to me. At the very least there needs to be some sort of integration assistance, and I feel that he is going to be thrown to the wolves, literally. It doesn’t make sense.

    Thanks for the website, I will definitely check it out. Take care!

    Comment by Sherri — August 30, 2008 @ 18:52

  2. My God Sher, its good to see you, I’ve been wondering how you and Justin are faring. This kind of stuff just makes us parents want to bang our heads up upon a brick wall. Justin sounds very typical AS- can do the work well but is challenged socially. This drives me NUTS, when I hear this kind of stuff. What stuns me, is how quick they are to “throw him back in there,” if I may put it that way. You would “think” they would prep him in this program for a few years and “then” see how he manages in a regular classroom. Or, like you said, either that or integrate Justin part time to slowly teach him some “social thinking.” It drives me insane how some professionals become blinded to the these kids strengths and dont delve below deeper. Keep fighting- that’s what I intend on doing. You may want to purchase some absolutely incredible practical literature by Michelle Garcia Winner and Social Thinking. This might assist you and Justin with regards to his social challenges. I love her work- anyone can use it. Because these kids are individually unique, only you will be able to determine if it will be of any use to Justin, you, or the school. Have you seen a school psychologist? I intend to utilize mine and also hire one independent from school. Start the papertrail- document, document, document! I actually intend on doing the same now that Michaela is undergoing this new transition. Its been hell these past days the closer we get to the first day of school. I am so frustrated. It drives me crazy when you see a child blossoming within a program only to have it taken away because he or she has done too well. Give a chance though Sher: there might be a reason. The program may have to do this in order to prove that he is unable to cope. It breaks my heart to see any child have to go through the hell however, the documentation will hopefully, prove to be invaulable. Perhaps proving that Justing is unable to cope in a typical program might be the thing to keep him in the special ed. program in which he so needs. His accomplishments within the special ed. program is not if anything but amazing. With a little support, its amazing how these kids blossom. When I used to work at the Autism Centre, we would literally have mini-parties whenever a child mastered such accomplishments. Those little things we take for granted each day- are massively huge for these kids. It is another small step towards thier independence. Keep me updated on what happens to Justin will you Sher? I truly want to know what happens and how he does. Hugs to you- thanks for keeping in touch. 🙂

    Comment by cheles — August 30, 2008 @ 20:38

  3. Honey, this is just so maddening and unfair. I wish there were a magic wand someone could wave to get you and Caela and Sherri and Justin the help you need, or at least to get other people’s heads out of their arses. It’s as though the whole point of the special programs is forgotten … the point IS FOR THE KIDS TO DO WELL IN THEM, NOT TO DO WELL AND THEN BE TAKEN OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *shrieking*

    Comment by davidrochester — September 1, 2008 @ 08:13

  4. David: The politics of the whole thing is just, well, sickening. Next to the outright arrogance. *Sigh.* Ditto regarding your last sentence! You know David, it would be a perfect world if things would just fall into place. Even if it means that parents like myself work day and night in order to secure our kids future. The uncertainty of it all quite frankly, terrorizes me.

    Comment by cheles — September 1, 2008 @ 09:30

  5. I UNDERSTAND WHAT U GUYS ARE GOING THREW MY BROTHER JUST TURNED4 AND HAS AUTISIM BUT WE ARE ALL SCARED TO SEND HIM TO HIGH SCHOOL EVEN IF ITS NOT TILL A FEW YEARS

    Comment by MERCEDES — September 22, 2008 @ 21:57

  6. Hi Mercedes- Don’t be scared. The environment not to mention the gizillion social experiences your brother will go thru and experience will be worth its weight in gold. EARLY INTERVENTION IS THE KEY. Do everything you can to help your brother now.

    I wish you all peace on this journey.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. Please don’t be a stranger.
    C’hele 🙂

    Comment by cheles — September 23, 2008 @ 04:40

  7. C’hele
    Have you read The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge?
    There is some pretty interesting stuff on Autism. I am reading it for work and will be going to a lecture by this guy on Sunday. There are some ground breaking ideas in here.

    aka Platylover

    Comment by loveslostsoul — November 11, 2008 @ 23:49

  8. Hmnn. I have not read this book- it sounds fascinating. I have great interest regarding the functioning of the human brain. Its a mystery like DNA- so much of it has yet to be discovered. I’ll have to check his book out. I hope the workshop on N. Doidge was what you hoped?

    Comment by C'hele — November 12, 2008 @ 18:09


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