how you can help end bullying

EndBullying
I rarely turn on the t.v. at night, we usually watch a show we missed on the iPad, no TiVo here. But, one evening I did turn on the t.v. and caught the movie, Bully. I’m really glad I did, and that it happened to be on PBS that night, at that particular time. I know, I’m WAY behind, it’s only been out for two-and-a-half-years. I have a full life and missed this one, but here I am, telling you if you haven’t seen it, you just may possibly consider doing so.

This is an issue I need to stand against. Bullying. Why? Because my son has special needs. Why? Because just a couple weeks ago teens were charged with abusing an Autistic teen. Why? Because children can’t stand against bullies on their own. Why? Because it makes me mad. And when something makes you mad, more importantly, when something hits home, you want to do something about it. Well, some of us do, and for others, they just don’t know where to turn, so I’m here to give you some tools.

I highly suggest watching Bully.

I also suggest that if you watch it and feel your child can handle it, have your middle or high schooler watch it with you. (The movie may not be appropriate for younger children.) Create conversation around the movie. Better yet, have a HUGE pizza party and have your child invite friends over to watch it! (After you’ve viewed it and found it appropriate.)

Sean Oconnell for Fandango says, “Halfway through my screening of Bully, I glanced across the living room, saw a photo of my sons, and started sobbing. It was the most guttural reaction I’ve had to a film all year. Maybe I was imagining them having to endure the vicious social obstacles presented in the film. Probably I was moved by the hardships suffered by the parents and children who open up for filmmaker Lee Hirsch’s cameras. More than anything, though, I just wanted them to come home from school so I could hold them. Forever.”

Bully movie preview:

So many things about this movie hit me. Of course, first is the bullying itself and watching the pain in the children’s eyes and hearing about the ones who’ve committed suicide because they couldn’t handle it anymore.

I’m also scared for my son who has Autism. He’s in a great school that makes intentional efforts to teach kids about special needs and differences, but one day he’ll go to middle school, and I’m thinking I might homeschool him then.

I hate it that one of the families places all the blame on their son. It disgusts me and I was shocked to see how this family treated a child who’s being abused physically and verbally at school and on the bus. The mom sits down and looks at her son across the table, and says, “Does it make you feel good when they punch you, or hit you, or stab you? Do these things make you feel good?…Your only connection to these kids is that they like to pound on you.” His father also asks, “What are you going to do about it?” And goes on to ask how they’ll treat his sister when she reaches middle school if he doesn’t stop the abuse. WHAT???!!!
13,000,000ChildrenBullied_2

Watch the movie, have conversations about it, talk to your kids about it, have open communication with your kids and teens about bullying, make it safe to come to you. You can read more about bullying in my post, Where the Abuse of Autistic People Begins. It begins at home, with you.

  • Teach your children about differences
  • Try to be around people who are different
  • Talk about people who are in wheelchairs, have a leg brace.
  • Watch movies, shows, and read books that have actors and characters who aren’t typical.
  • Be a good example for your children to follow. End bullying.

You can support the Bully Movie Project on Facebook.

Please share with others to help stop bullying.

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taking the HAUNT out of Halloween (adoption/foster)

Tracy Dee Whitt:

Below is my post on how to take the haunt out of Halloween…”Because our children have previous experiences that were scary and worrisome, they are basing their view of the world through that lens.”
I thought sharing it again would be helpful. Have a Happy Halloween!

Originally posted on lovin' adoptin':

(In this post when I talk about our children who came from a scary place, I am including those who were neglected or abandoned. Although they weren’t abused or frightened by some larger person, their experience was extremely fearful for a child.)

halloween haunt

I’m not a fan of fear. In college you would have thought differently. The movie Fear was released when I was in college, and it was played numerous times in my dorm. I read books that made me think every noise was an intruder coming to take my life. I went to the best haunted houses in the Phoenix area. It was a phase, a very brief phase. I no longer like haunted, scary, or spooky.

We all know that Halloween can be filled with some frightful stuff, some people thrive on it, some love scaring others, or being spooked themselves. But what happens when our children who’ve…

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Autism therapy: all children are unique, even those with Autism

Autism Therapy- all children are unique, even those who have AutismOy, therapy for children with developmental disabilities. We could get into quite a discussion couldn’t we? How well it’s done or not done, how it should be done, what age to start therapy, how often and for how long. Lots of shoulds and should nots aren’t there?

When you begin on the road of Autism you hear everyone’s opinion; your mothers, friends, co-workers, therapists, teachers, spouses, and the stranger at the grocery store. And gee, could it be that you even have your own opinions? Today I’d like to share my reaction to some therapist’s view point, and hope to help you if you’ve run into this situation.

When we started therapy for Jeremiah we didn’t know Jeremiah had Autism, we only knew he was developmentally delayed and wasn’t speaking. Two therapists worked with us in the beginning, a speech pathologist and a developmental interventionist. As they worked with us, I asked them about Autism. Their answer:

they use the same therapy with every child, no matter what disability or disorder they might have.

What?? How is that possible? I asked it three years ago, and I still ask it today. How can you treat every child the same? How can you treat a child with a speech delay the same as you treat a child with Angelmans Syndrome? You don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t get anywhere with one of them, and a whole discombobulated mess would ensue.

When we think of Autism, we think of fairly specific behaviors. And, when we add in each child’s specific developmental position, they’re each unique in how they learn and take in information. Sure, you may have a group of Autistic people who learn best through visual stimulation, and you might have another group who learns best through tactile stimulation, but

each individual needs to be taken into account and not grouped together.

So, this idea of doing therapy the same for every child struck me wrong from the beginning, even when Jeremiah didn’t have the diagnosis of Autism. Why? Because my son was not every other child. How did I know? Because I’d tried this theory out on my own before any “professional” came into my home.

Our daughter, Payton, came to us at nine-months through foster care. When she came, I began talking to her in full sentences, and although she struggled with emotional and social development, her intellect was well in tact. She understood me, responded to me, and began talking at an appropriate, if not, young age.

I took this same approach with my son, Jeremiah. My opinion was that children can understand if given the opportunity. Yet, at some point I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. The request, “Get off the table,” didn’t mean anything to Jeremiah, I could tell it wasn’t a disregard for what I was saying, but a lack of comprehending what I wanted from him.

When the therapists came in, they wanted me to change how I talked to him. I needed to simply say, “Get down.” They explained that he heard the last word or two I was saying, so he heard “table,” not “down” if I said, “Get down from the table.” Also, if I was to say, “Please don’t hit,” he would only hear the word, “hit,” and not stop the action.

That right there is a very basic example of why therapy isn’t the same for all children.

Is your child's therapist treating them as a unique individual
Here’s another example. A friend of ours took her daughter, Hannah*, to a speech therapist, she loved it and raved about it, saying that we needed to take Jeremiah. Very sweet. But as she explained what this therapist did with her daughter I quickly realized it wouldn’t work for us.

This therapist would ask Hannah to do something with her mouth, and when she did she would receive a reward. For example, the therapist would ask Hannah to make an “O” with her mouth a few times, and she would be rewarded with something, like playing with a toy for a minute. This is a fantastic way to help a child who can understand directions, or who can copy a persons movements. Jeremiah can’t.

Jeremiah’s understanding is developing continually, but he’s still not at the point where you can ask him to do something that’s outside of his everyday routine, there are a few things he can do, but not much therapy-wise. So, no, not every child is treated in the same way in therapy, nor should they be.

Each child needs to be worked with where they are.

Some therapists understand this and some don’t. The Developmental Interventionist I mentioned above is awesome. When she told me she treats all children the same, I think she was only quoting what her manager was saying. She understood Jeremiah and worked with him with such intuitiveness that we asked her to work with him privately after his Early Intervention ended. She took Autism into consideration. She didn’t push Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), but conformed it to fit Jeremiah.

It’s so important to be aware of what therapy is being done with your child. There are many Autistic adults who say they were abused through ABA. Some therapies today have modified ABA to make it less intrusive, but some haven’t.

Has a therapist ever said to you that they use the same therapy for every child? Is there a therapy being used with your child that makes you uncomfortable or question whether it’s right or wrong?

You can find out more about Autism therapies in these posts:
More perspectives on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
My Thoughts on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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the nitty gritty: if you DON’T want your foster or adopted child to thrive, DON’T read this

the nitty gritty- if you DON'T want your foster or adopted child to thrive DON'T read this
I don’t suggest reading this if you don’t want your family to change. This will ruffle feathers, they’ll go flying, but this is so important if you want your family to do well, if you want your child to heal and your family thrive. I’ve avoided writing this because I don’t want people to get mad and run, but if I don’t write it, families may falter, and that’s not my desire. All of the time I spend on Lovin’ Adoptin’ and speaking is with a goal to help families. I’ve tackled dozens of other topics on adoption and foster care, on how to help traumatized children do well, but this one topic I’ve avoided because it’s not popular, and frankly, I don’t think families want to hear it.

Why don’t they want to hear it? Because it requires hard work, it requires change, it requires selflessness. What is it that I’m talking about? Being with your family, being present whenever you’re needed. I’m talking about putting your desires aside and focusing on those of your family,

specifically the needs of your traumatized child.

I know there are many parents out there who feel they aren’t taking care of themselves, and the focus in adoption groups and adoption and foster care related articles is to take time for yourself. While it’s important to take time for yourself, there needs to be balance. I’ve written about that, however, today my focus is on both parents.

One family sticks out in my mind when I think of this topic. This family, I’ll call them Sweney, ranted about how their daughter, Adia, who they adopted from another country (where she was deeply traumatized multiple times), wasn’t bonding with them. They couldn’t understand it, they felt like they’d done all they could to meet her needs, yet she was unhappy. Problem number one, they blamed her. I’ll talk about blaming more in depth another time, but this family placed all responsibility on this girls shoulders, they expected far too much of her and didn’t go the distance on their end.

How is it that they didn’t go the distance on their end? Her actions, none of them violent or defiling by the way, were screaming that she wanted attention and time. The little attention and time they gave her wasn’t rewarded, so they did less. They wondered why she wasn’t happy, wasn’t obedient, wasn’t appreciative. What was her problem?

It wasn’t her problem, it’s not something she needed to fix. We shouldn’t say, she isn’t bonding. Does she really have a mental choice? I don’t think so. Sure older children can make the choice at some point, sometimes, to be kind to their adoptive or foster parents, however, can they make the choice to bond? Ponder this question for a bit if you will.
hurting children can't heal themselves

First, for young Adia, not nearly enough time was given for her to overcome her grief and pain. Second, what was the family doing to help her heal? Were they giving her opportunities in America? Yes. Were they providing a nice room, toys, clothes, and good food? Yes. But, is that enough? You can read more about the question that circles adoption and foster communities about love being enough here.

While you can follow all the advice I’ve written here on this website, if you don’t have a key piece, you’ll have a really hard time bonding with your child.

That key piece is being a unit, one that’s dedicated to your child who’s been neglected, abused, disappointed, abandoned. That’s what this family was missing.

Here’s what their family was like. Dad golfed any chance he got; weekends, holidays, afternoons. When football, hokey, soccer, or leaf picking was on, he was watching. When he was asked to watch the children, he sat in his recliner watching…you guessed it, sports. Is watching sports wrong? No! Is watching sports and ignoring your family okay? No. Is it okay to miss a game or two? Probably not for some. Could they incorporate their children into watching the sports, make it a family event? Maybe.

Now to Mrs. Sweney, she was a runner. She ran every morning for a couple hours, and she was involved in the activities she was interested in. I can give her some slack here, as this was all she did. She took care of the kids, she cooked, cleaned, and even did the yard work. She was the responsible parent. I don’t mean to knock on the husband of this family, but he really needed to step up and do something.

Although Mrs. Sweney did everything, she wasn’t an affectionate mother, and she lacked consistency and expectations. But then, I don’t blame her so much when I think of all she was carrying, her husband acted like one of her children.

The Sweney’s decided to send Adia to a group home because she wasn’t bonding. Wonder why. The day they were to drop her off, mom drove her, and Dad had something “more important to do.” At the end of Adia’s stay, Mom and Dad were invited to join her for a week. While there, Dad went hunting. The last thing Dad needed was time away.

Sending Adia off wasn’t what they needed to do. They needed to make their family a priority, especially their adopted daughter. Mom and Dad need to be a team and invest in their child. Their time needed to be spent together.

There’s a period of time after adopting or after a foster child joins your family when families need to put complete focus on that child.

It requires parents to put aside their hobbies and interests and converge on what the traumatized child needs. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding when you see what pain a child’s been through and the light on the other side.

I can’t tell you the joy I’ve felt when my daughter healed and wanted to dress like me, wear jewelry that looked like mine, wanted ME to walk her to class, while she held her head high, proud of ME, her mom. Or when she wants me to hug her and hold her when she’s sad, when she’s upset at me but can turn it around quickly and talk about what’s going on. The joy when she wants me to volunteer in her class and doesn’t yell that she wants me to go away. Joy, pure joy, but it takes work to get there. You can also see an article I wrote about how our children were tore down quickly, but it takes time to build them back up.

*Sports isn’t the addiction for everyone, I encourage you to look at your life and see what might be taking the focus away from your kids. Is it yard work, cooking, pinterest, volunteering outside the home, work?

*I’m not saying anything the Sweney family did was wrong on its own, but when it’s combined it can be detrimental to the family, especially to the traumatized child.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, this can be done on the web version. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

seizures and Autism: a visit to Children’s Hospital

seizures and autism - a visit to Children's Hospital
Jeremiah’s seizures began when he was a newborn. We adopted him from foster care, so he wasn’t with us then, however he had the “shaking seizures” after he was born and then again a month or two later. He came to us at three months and we didn’t see anything unusual, indicating a seizure until he was about three-years-old.

Somewhere along my trek through Autism, I heard about Autism and seizures being synonymous at times. I heard this in correlation to children with Autism losing their skills or regressing. Jeremiah has always gained skills and regressed, it’s been the story of his life. Does he say, “Hi”? He used to. He also used to…but now he…Gaining and losing, gaining and losing.

Was it seizures?

When he was three-years-old I heard this terrified cry come from his room. I quickly went and opened his door, and he looked so frightened. I’d never seen that look before. He’s nonverbal, so he couldn’t tell me if it was a nightmare, but he was acting strange, and it didn’t seem to me to be a scary dream. After that he really regressed. I was sure he’d had a seizure. 

We then had an EEG done at our local hospital, the goal was to asses whether there was any seizure activity. It wasn’t a good experience. First, Jeremiah doesn’t do well when outside of his routine, so going to the hospital was one of those “Oh no, what in the heck are we doing?” adventures. Rough. Second, they had to place all these sticky do-dads on his head (sorry don’t know the medical terminology). Yeah right. He doesn’t like anything on his body that isn’t supposed to be there; dry skin peeling off his lips, a band-aid, etc. So he yanked at those wires which hooked to the sticky do-dads with a ferocity you wouldn’t believe. Third, he didn’t understand why we were there or what they were doing to him. So, after forty-five minutes of crying, screaming, and panicked writhing (my sweet husband got quite beat up) Jeremiah passed out from exhaustion.

The techs only ran the test for another ten minutes and said that’s all they could get. Really? All they could get? Since they have twenty-four-hour and seventy-two-hour EEGs I would imagine they could’ve run the test a little longer, but they were exhausted themselves and wanted to be done. The end.

Those results came back inconclusive, meaning while he was asleep for ten whole entire minutes his brain didn’t show any seizure activity. Shocker.

Fast forward to August 24. This time we witnessed a seizure. Problem being it didn’t click that it was a seizure for quite a while. Jeremiah was playing in the back yard and his sister was, well, crying over something. Justin and I were cooking and Justin left to bring Payton inside, he noticed that Jeremiah was standing in the backyard not doing anything in particular. This happens sometimes.

Payton continued crying, we were trying to get dinner on, and Justin called for Jeremiah to come inside. Usually if we tell him to come in and eat, he will, but this time he didn’t move. Justin stuck his head out the door again and called to him, and Jeremiah didn’t move. So, Justin went out and picked Jeremiah up and brought him in. He stood him on the chair where he always stands, he was facing the back of the chair. We continued to work on dinner and Payton continued to cry.

Justin notice that Jeremiah hadn’t moved. I went over to him and touched his arms, there was a slight tremor to them, like he was holding something with a really tight grip. I said there was something wrong, he didn’t look at me (for a child who has Autism, he actually makes very good eye contact) and

I couldn’t get him to stop staring into space.

Justin picked him up, his body was rigid, and we took him to the couch and undressed him, thinking he’d been bit by something outside and was having an adverse reaction. We weren’t getting any response or looks from him, he was breathing but just wasn’t there. We turned on his favorite movie to see if he’d look at it, and he did eventually turn his head. Jeremiah then curled up in Justin lap in a fetal position and shoved his fists into his eyes.The rest of the evening he was exhausted.

It was somewhere after checking his body for any indication of a reaction that I realized he might be having a seizure. I knew he’d had them before and that correlation with Autism is there. There are also seizures known as petit mals or absence seizures where someone will stare into space and their body becomes rigid, you can’t get them out of this state until the seizure stops. Now I knew what had happened. Problem was, this lasted seven to ten minutes, much longer than a petit mal or absence seizure.
complex partial seizures & autism

Jeremiah’s doctor referred us to a Neurologist at Children’s Hospital. I was worried because we’ve had more hospital visits go awry than just the one I talked about above. HIs doctor reassured me, “It’s Children’s, they deal with this all the time.” The “this” meaning Autism. I think.

The chats with the scheduling nurses before we arrived left me strongly disagreeing with Jeremiah’s doctor. They didn’t take Autism into consideration when scheduling his EEG he was to have at Children’s – which they failed to notify me of. Whoops. When I found out, I said an hour-long EEG wouldn’t tell them anything, and we’d already been there, done that. So, got that worked out and figured we’d have to make another five-hour trip to the hospital soon after this Neurology appointment.

We arrived a little early on Friday morning. I watched as children filed in and out of Children’s with their parents. I was completely struck by thoughts that these children were sick, many of them worse than Jeremiah. Our seizures and our Autism are nothing compared to what these families are facing. Some are worried every moment that their child won’t make it, that this is all they have. For many the seizures are worse, occurring multiple times a day and the child is convulsing, while the parents are filled with fear far more often than I.

The appointment went really well. We heard exactly what we wanted. Jeremiah doesn’t need medication unless the seizures increase in frequency or longevity. We have an emergency “pin” with medication that we’re to administer if the seizure lasts longer than five-minutes. They diagnosed them as Complex Partial Seizures. The emergency “pin” relieves my anxiety a great deal. To know that I can do something if Jeremiah has a seizure, helps tremendously. It’s so much better than standing around wondering how to make it stop.

Some other great news is that for now, no EEGs need to be conducted. Yay! You can’t imagine the relief. Well, if you have an Autistic child you might be able to imagine. I don’t want to go through that again. Ever. Since they know he’s having seizures they feel it would be pointless at this time to run the test.

The coolest part was that the Nurse Practitioner understood Autism and referred to us anytime she needed to do something with Jeremiah, she even said she didn’t mind if I took the measurement of his head. (Bad idea, she didn’t know i’m horrible at math.;)) The other awesome part was that the Neurologist offered to take Jeremiah out into the hall while we chatted with a nurse and learned how to administer the medication. The doctor wasn’t young and Jeremiah is fast, but he seemed to be enjoying himself, just chillin’ with Jeremiah – or running and chasing, whichever.

To be somewhere and have the medical personnel understand Autism was so reassuring. They all knew about Sensory Processing Disorder, didn’t even ask me to put the admissions bracelet on his arm. We got some answers and although I feel our life is far more complicated than most, I was reminded that it could be worse. A lot worse.

If you’d like more information on Complex Partial Seizures, you can check out the Epilepsy Foundation.

I also found this article that talks about Autism and it’s relation to Complex Partial Seizures.

Does your child have seizures? How do you feel about them?

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner. If you’re on a mobile device, this can be done on the web version. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more helpful information and links.

making Halloween happier (adoption & foster care)

Tracy Dee Whitt:

Here’s a post from last Halloween. I feel this topic is important for adopted and foster children.
…”For children with attachment issues, I don’t agree with the approach of removing everything fun in their life. If there’s no fun, there are no opportunities to grow as a family, nor do they feel they will ever get to do anything, so why try to be good? Let them do something for Halloween, and I don’t just mean attending a school party.”

Check back in two weeks when I’ll be writing about how to help keep the haunt OUT of Halloween.

Originally posted on lovin' adoptin':

happierhalloween

How do we stay sane during Halloween? It can be hard, even with kids who don’t have sensory issues, or attachment issues. The first goal is to make it fun for your child. For children with attachment issues, I don’t agree with the approach of removing everything fun in their life. If there’s no fun, there are no opportunities to grow as a family, nor do they feel they will ever get to do anything, so why try to be good? Let them do something for Halloween, and I don’t just mean attending a school party.

Even though you’re letting your child participate in Halloween, that doesn’t mean all expectations go out to the trash with the candy wrappers. Have guidelines before you go out; what you will be doing, what you expect them to do, and how you expect them to act. That doesn’t mean it will happen, but…

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what works for your Autistic child: when therapies and programs don’t fit

what works for your Autistic child
What does the Autistic child want? I wonder if this question is ever asked. Well it’s asked, but what percentage of the time? And, frankly, there are therapists and parents who never ask this question or acknowledge the child they’re working with or raising has opinions all their own.

It’s as if children who have disabilities necessitate therapy 24/7.

Often the child behind the word “Autistic” is forgotten about, and people try to therapy the Autism right out. Thought isn’t given to what the Autistic child might want to do, whereas with a typical child, their concerns, desires, dreams, and preferences are usually contemplated when deciding how that child will spend their time. Not so with the child who has Autism.

An example of this arose as my son’s school year approached. A school therapist was doing a home visit before school began, and she asked, “How has Jeremiah done this summer?” I told her he’d done really well during the last part of the summer, until his sister went back to school (that change threw everything off kilter). She responded, “I’ll be honest, I was worried about how he would do without ESY (Extended School Year – summer school). Although it’s a different schedule, having that time of consistency helps kids.”

The reason Jeremiah didn’t do ESY this past summer was because of that “different schedule” she mentioned, and as for “consistency,” there really was none. In the summer of 2012 we put him in the ESY program for the first time. Some parts of it were good, some parts weren’t.

The Bad: A haphazard, confusing schedule. Although there were many positives about ESY, we found this so negatively impacted Jeremiah and our family that we decided not to do it again. Our school district has an inability to think through the make-up of special needs students, specifically the needs for consistency and routine. I would think if a program were designed to reach children with special needs, they would build it around their inclinations, however our district didn’t.

ESY was only held two mornings a week, whereas during the school year, Jeremiah and his classmates attended school four mornings a week. The kids began their summer like everyone else and then their world was upturned, ESY began. They went for a few weeks then took a break for two weeks and went back for a couple more. Then ESY ended and they waited out the rest of the summer “like every other child.”

But wait, it wasn’t like every other child because everything they’d come to rely upon was flipped on them. Kind of like how some school districts are choosing to add new fall breaks and teacher work days here and there, except as I said, this program was created to meet the needs of children with disABILITIES, not typical children.

It was horrible, we struggled getting him into the new routine in a new place, with new teachers, and new students. Once he settled in, they waylaid Jeremiah and his fellow classmates with a break – a break in the midst of a short summer program. Don’t ask me. Then back to ESY it was, another adjustment, and then off for more summer fun. Not so much. Jeremiah was confused and irritated, it took days to get him to relax into being at home every day, and the times when he had to go back, oh wow. It wasn’t productive and there wasn’t enough positive outcome to consider doing it again.

Plus, what did Jeremiah want to do that summer? I know ESY can be beneficial for kids, I’m aware there are positives, and I don’t think two to three mornings of ESY during the weeks of summer are a bad thing. However, when we consider how Jeremiah felt during all those transitions, I can imagine he was saying he didn’t want to go. Well, more like, “Once you get me into a routine for the summer, keep me there.”

That summer what Jeremiah wanted wasn’t on the forefront of our minds, we were focused on what we were told would be best. But when ESY was over, we agreed he wouldn’t do it again.
often times the child behind the word Autism is forgottenThere are some positives to ESY.

The Good:

Different teachers. Only one of his therapists from the school year was in the ESY classroom. Exposure to different teachers is great, but who the child is must be kept in mind. Each year your child will have a different teacher (unless they’re secluded in a special needs classroom) so teachers change, but we don’t need to force it on our children more than necessary. However, if your child can handle it (given a little time and assistance), it will most likely benefit them.

Different students. Your child will always be exposed to new people, so this is an excellent setting where they can be around a more diverse group of kids. (Although, I’m a BIG proponent of inclusion, and in an ESY program you’ll only have children with special needs, no typically functioning children.)

Different school. Your child will be going places, new places, all the time, so this will help with those changes of venue. If your child’s in regular education classrooms, they’ll be switching schools; preschool to primary, primary to middle school, middle school to high school, and they may have a job at some point. In this way an ESY program could be helpful.

——-
The dynamics found in ESY will stretch a child, but we want to make sure we’re thinking about the child. If an Autistic child is absolutely, or even minutely irritated by a summer program, why do it? It’s summer. Does a typical child get to enjoy summer break? Most do, most aren’t forced into a day camp they hate every day of summer.

Neither should an Autistic child be forced into something they hate.

Adversity makes us grow, it makes children grow, and at times it can help the Autistic child, but at what cost? If an Autistic child is truly miserable how beneficial is it going to be? And, if it’s not done right it can harm the Autistic individual.

I was recently asked by a professor at the University of Michigan to submit articles to two anthologies she’s putting together. One focuses on how certain therapies harm Autistic people. This is a real issue. Just because someone tells you to do it, that doesn’t mean it’s right. There are many therapies that are accepted as “normal” for Autistic people, and many have been harmed through its process.

We have to think about the person behind the Autism.

We have to consider what they want. We have to look at their positive qualities, not just the negative ones. There are ways to help the child who has Autism, but it may not be in the way most Autism parents or therapists consider the “best way.”


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