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Autism Spectrum Message Board

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Hi, I wanted to introduce myself.

I have a 9 (soon to be 10) year old son with Autism. He is very verbal, but definitely lags FAR behind in intellectual, social and academic skills than his peers. I'm a SAHM mom, and I also have a daughter who is 11. We recently moved from Minnesota (where we lived for 8 years) to Oklahoma (due to my DH's job). Although we live in a small city (pop 48,000), the school is actually doing a good job with my son so far. That was our biggest concern. We came from the Twin Cities in MN, and the LARGE school district he was in there (in one of the St. Paul suburbs) was very accomodating. Surprisingly, the program here is very similar. My son is in a mainstream elementary school that has an autism program for support. He has a full time one-on-one aide, and spends about 1/2 his day in the regular classroom (he's in third grade). In previous school years, he has spent almost the entire day in the mainstream classroom. But, the academics are getting harder and take up more of the day, and my son works better when he's taken to a quiet area for one-on-one teaching. So, while I'm sad to see him spending more time out of class, I'm happy that he's getting the academic help he needs. It was tough for me to come to terms with that.

I've seen several posts here asking what life is like for those with "older" children. My son isn't "older", but I think back to what it was like in his preschool years, and I can really relate to a lot of the posts I see here from those of you with younger children. My son was dx'ed with "suspected PDD" by a neurologist in 1998, when he was not quite 4 years old. This was based on a 30-45 minute assessment of my son in his office. The following year, we took my son to Minneapolis Children's for a VERY thorough 2-day multidisciplinary evaluation that included speech, OT, hearing, medical, etc. That was when we received the Autism Dx. My world fell apart that day. It took me several years to even [B]SAY[/B] the word autism without crying.

It was SO hard when my son was younger. He started home-based early intervention at the age of 2, even before we suspected autism because his speech was lagging. At 3, he went into Early Childhood Special Ed. He hated it, and he screamed and cried every day for the first two months. But, it was good for him, and as much as it ripped my heart out to leave him there every day, again, it was VERY good for him. He went to preschool for three years. We held him back an extra year because we thought that might give him a leg up socially. I'm not sure if that really helped, but he's done pretty well in elem. school. He's bringing home decent grades, and he's doing work that I didn't think he'd be able to do --- 100%'s on spelling tests (age appropriate tests), and B's on science and social studies. He enjoys going to school, although the transition to the new school was hard on him. School has been in session for about a month and a half, and he's just starting to settle in.

As for what life is like with an older child. My son has his moments, to be sure. He can throw a tantrum with the best of them, and hit, scream, kick, pinch. But that has gotten MUCH better as he's gotten older. While I won't go so far as to say our life is normal (pretty much everything we do has to be carefully thought out before hand---you know what I mean, I'm sure), we do have as normal of a life as a lot of people. We've been taking Mark out and about since he was a baby. We go out to eat, movies, shopping, vacations (Disney World and Disneyland are excellent places to take children with autism---they really make efforts to accomodate--Mark has been to Disney parks for eight different's THAT good for him). It's not always easy, and it takes a very heavy hand to discipline him. We don't have the exact same expectations discipline wise for him as we do for our DD, but through a lot of time-outs, taking away of privileges, and stern talking to, I know he's learning what's right and what's wrong. It doesn't always help when he gets really mad or upset, but I can definitely see progress.

But, even with all his progress, I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I don't feel a twinge of sadness or anxiety (and sometimes far more than just a twinge) of what his life will be like as he gets older. Will he live with us the rest of his life? Will he be able to hold a job? Who'll take care of him when we are gone? It's very scary to think about. :(

Anyway, sorry this got so long. I look forward to reading about everyone else's children. :)

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