I am wondering if anyone has any input regarding children with Aspergers or HFA and an inclusive school setting. We have an 8 year old with HFA who has been mainstreamed in an inclusive classroom for 3 years. Our local school district pushes really hard for inclusion - which, I know can be good. However, what we are seeing now is a huge increase in our child's anxiety level because she is noticing that she's different from other "neurotypical" kids. It has been a miserable struggle for her this year. Does anyone have any experience or input regarding placing kiddos with HFA and Aspergers into a classroom with other Asperger and HFA kids? We are looking into options for our child and it seems like we have to either choose a self-contained classroom that is totally inappropriate, or go full inclusion. We are hoping that we can somehow get half inclusion and half self-contained with other children with Aspergers or HFA, but I know it's going to be a battle. Any ideas?
what we are seeing now is a huge increase in our child's anxiety level because she is noticing that she's different from other "neurotypical" kids. It has been a miserable struggle for her this year.
IME, some of our high-end kids do suffer with this anxiety-of-awareness, and it can even intensify as adolescence approaches, and throughout. IMO it's important to support the child throughout, with individual therapy, or family counselling, or meds, or a combination.
While academic placement can impact one's self-perception, the worst of the anxiety usually relates to the child's own perceptions & fears. Assuming, of course, that he/she isn't in a bullied situation.
Thank you for your suggestions. I feel spoiled, really because we are in a great school district where our daughter has an aide, she gets good services, etc.... But the support teacher and the aides sometimes tend to treat her like a behavior problem instead of keeping in mind her diagnosis. It's very frustrating for her and she tends to hold onto the guilt that gets fostered from these times when they treat her like a behavior problem. That and she is not readily accepted by her peers - but no bullying, YET.
Elmhar, I have been brainstorming all day about what to do and I think I've about reached the same conclusion as what you had. I think I am expecting too much from the school. So, I've decided to get a social skills checklist, go through it and start from square one to make sure that my sweet daughter understands. We've done ABA and RDI, floortime and social work, speech, OT, social groups, etc.... It's been a very long road. But, she has progressed SO much!! She is a GREAT kid - I just hate to see her go from a happy, socially driven child to a withdrawn, anxiety ridden kiddo. She is like a different child when she is around other kids with Aspergers or HFA - she' s so happy and relaxed and chatters to them a mile a minute! It's a great thing to see. One of my friends suggested starting an Aspergers club where we get the kids together once a week for some fun and socialization. I thought that was a great idea!
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. Good luck to you all in your autism adventures!
Yes, we have twins that are 2 years younger than my daughter. They get aloing so well! Everyday is like a little social group. She has so many great opportunities for socialization, it's just where school is concerned, I want that to be less of a stress for her. As school gets more stressful, I see her becoming more withdrawn- even at home. I tend to be too picky sometimes and I continually ask for more and more until I feel like my daughters needs are met. I know the school probably thinks I'm a big pain in the you know what! Your suggestions have really jumpstarted some brainstorming for me, so I thank you!
The pairing up idea is great!!
My son is 13 and was just diagnosed with Aspergers at age 12. He had been in special education classes since he was 3. We moved to a rural area 2 years ago and there wasn't many choices. The first year here he was in special education classes and came home all the time saying that he was doing baby work. This year he was moved to a different school and put in inclusion classes. No child with Aspergers likes change, but sometimes it is for the best. Finally he is with the "normal" kids and he likes that alot. He is doing very good and doesn't really feel that different anymore. It is also great for them to learn some socialization skills. Next year he is going into middle school and we are a little worried, but we hope it goes as well as this past year.