Today I had an experience and I realized that all teachers do not understand Autism and they need to be educated. My son has high functioning autism. This means he can go to a normal or “mainstream” school and do normal activities but he is not like the other children. He is only 3 so he only attends Mother’s Day Out 2 days a week. Those 2 days are only 5 hours each day. I wanted so badly for him to have an opportunity to grow socially and be with other children. Last year he did wonderful. His teacher was my best friend and she understood him. She got his personality and he trusted her enough to let her into his world. It was the most wonderful few months for me and my son! She was a blessing but now I see she was also the exception. There are not many like that.
That brings me to this year. My son’s birthday is early September so he was actually bumped up a class instead of going to the next class. So problem number one was that he was jumping ahead of any skills he had learned. It was a whole new atmosphere. He was with a new group of kids, a new teacher, a new room and new ways of learning. There were too many NEW things and he did not do well. This is very common for autistic kids and that is one of his unique characteristics.
The second major issue was that we had accomplished potty training at home and he was doing great! He was wearing underwear at all times at home. When he started Mother’s Day Out a strange thing happened. He forgot everything while he was there. The teacher was just not understanding why he could not do like the other children. She kept telling me to have pull ups on him but I kept standing strong in the fact that he was trained and she needed to pay better attention to his signals. Today she follows me out to the car and says he MUST were pull ups from now on because she is tired of cleaning up his accidents. I was silent and just looked at her. Then she said it was because he just will NOT talk to her. She got in his face and said “see.” As he shut down and turned his precious face away clearly in a panic mode.
This is a teacher who clearly does not understand my son. Everyone at that school knows he is on the spectrum and needs to be cared for with a little extra attention. When she said that it was his fault because he won’t talk with her I was furious. That is a huge struggle for him. He is like many other children on the Autism Spectrum and will not make eye contact or communicate with people he is not very comfortable with. That is just him. To allow him to soil himself because he does not trust her enough to communicate was very upsetting.
I got home and thought about it and realized she did not mean it as bad as I had took it. She is a good woman and a great teacher. She just does not understand the precious personality of my son. He is brilliant and can do things far beyond other children but he lacks those social skills. I am left with a question of how do we educate teachers so that our kids can be safely included in the public schools? I want my son to be able to participate in activities with other children. He does not qualify for special education and that puts him right in the middle where no one understands him.
As moms and dads we have to be the voice for our children. We have to find a way to make others understand. I am still learning this myself. Together we have a much louder voice than alone!
Here are some great resources to help parents when dealing with their child and education: