I experienced unusual feelings today while participating in an Individualized Educational Planning Team (IEPT) meeting. The parent was becoming frustrated. She wanted services for her child that were going to be soon cut off by public funding. There was no one at the meeting who could secure a guaranty for the location of a future educational setting and services.
Seemingly frustrated and angry she said that if she did not get what she wanted she would insist her child be put in a fully inclusive general education setting, meaning that this child with severe expressive language delays, and auditory processing issues would be required to participate in a setting where stress levels could rise 100 fold due to unpredictable environments, social situations, noise levels, and excessive visual stimulus.
The likelihood that the child will look more autistic is almost guaranteed. It does not matter how good a school’s reputation is, how convenient the school’s location is to your daily routine, if you decide to put your child in an environment that increases stress there is a great possibility that you will see an exacerbation of the symptoms of autism.
If a child begins looking more autistic, then you might consider changing the child’s educational placement, something you are doing, or change what the child is doing. The value of a stable, organized, predictable, and safe environment, saturated with consistent clear expectations is imperative for the child with autism to progress and develop.
Children with autism can have a joyous, and meaningful life, if you as their parent, and others who provide services for your child will embrace and nurture their unique strengths and interests as abilities and not deficits.
Many people with autism have interests that the others may think are quirky, odd, idiosyncratic, and out of the norm, who cares what others think!?! As a child with Asperger’s recently stated in an article in the Los Angeles Times (2010) my interests are not near as quirky as those of people obsessed with sports.
Many people living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder develop professional careers, are able to live independently with minimal supports, and others will have a greater dependency within living and working environments. I urge you to seek out ‘good fits’ so to speak, within educational settings and with people who have genuine positive regard for your child.