I ( we, really) find myself (ourselves, really) at an interesting place: trying to decide if sending our child into the public school system at the ripe old age of THREE is right (or not). It seems that everyone has a well intentioned opinion on the subject.
The “experts” say:
The best place for him to learn to interact is in a classroom with his peers no less than twenty hours per week.
The only way to get the school to provide services is to send him to class.
He doesn’t have to be potty trained to go!
(But at the same time, by the “experts”, “the public schools do not have the parent/child relationship as a priority. That just isn’t their concern.”)
I had no idea when we started this journey that autism would force us to make decisions (before the end of the current school year) about things that we didn’t think we’d have to even start thinking about until he was around five. I should point out that we’ve leaned toward homeschooling from the beginning and that my own public school “experience” was chock full of bullying. And, the few times that I’ve seen my son try to interact with children “his own age” they’ve either screamed in horror at the idea that he’d take their toy or, instead of screaming, snatched his toy and run with it. When they scream, he runs the other way, stimming as he goes, and it can take awhile to get his mind engaged again. When they snatch his toy and run, his face will start to crumple, and the tears begin to fall, as he, unable to tell me (or anyone else) what’s wrong, starts to fall apart. And I, watching, try to encourage him to share and to shift his focus onto something else. The only way to know that something bad has happened, at this point, is if I see it.
I am his primary means of communication and his strongest ally. And although I realize (and hope and pray) that his functional speech will improve, I have a hard time understanding how well he will function in a preschool setting without help. Of understanding how well a preschool teacher and one or two aides can adequately cover the needs of a classroom full of 3 (and 4 year olds?) (I’ve been told that class size hasn’t exceeded 12 lately) and provide the one-on-one help that he will need. And there is his special diet to consider.
So. On the plus side, I have the phone number of someone to call that I think will actually talk to me and not blow me off via email. Here’s to remembering to make that call!
(If you’re curious about why I don’t mention private school, it’s because I don’t think the two that are in town are equipped to help him. And if they were, we don’t have the funds.)