Tuesday, August 26, 2008

High School Micromanaged for Autism and Success

Yo Mick here, the one sitting on my tail.

Red and I began high school yesterday - at least the pretend version of me gets to go. Band camp has been awesome in transitioning Red to high school. He's met some new friends who are mentoring him. I keep a low profile when he's at school. So low that most people never know I exist but Red is able to talk to me when he needs to work something out or reassurance.

Behind the scenes, Mum and Red's SCIA (special circumstance instructional aide - formerly called a 1:1 aide) have been busy getting things set for him to have a good year. They've arranged his classes, researched his teachers even, and got his locker in a location that won't add to his stress level.

The locker needed to be on the outside so he doesn't feel suffocated and its at his chest level, not too high or too low. With over 2,000 students these little things help.

Some call this micromanagement, but when it helps Red succeed who cares what its called or who thinks what? Mum knows best most of the time and she's good at listening to the council of others. Our goal this year is to ensure that red has a smooth transition to the high school.

Most of the details Mum and the SCIA are able to iron out but there are some things beyond their ability to either control or know about. Fore example, one of Red's classes has a bully in it that made his life miserable in one of his classes last year. The bully picked up right where he left off so now Red has a schedule change - already - the second.

There's no way to know if that'll help in the long run but they have to try. Kids with autism are often bullied and don't always understand that they are being bullied. Red knew. I wish I were permitted to go to classes with Red, I don't thing the bully would be such a problem.

Mum and the SCIA stay on top of things, it's not always easy, some people who typically don't understand autism don't recognize how important it is to do so. Can you imagine how it feels to start every day accidentally smashed into lockers by others - when you have sensory issues?

Or what if every time a teacher called out loudly you perceived it as them yelling at you as if they were angry with you for something and you had no idea what it was?

What if you knew the bully was eyeballing you and you told the teacher about it, and the para-educator and still no one believed you because you have autism and everybody knows that kids with autism don't perceive things like that correctly?

Micromanagement, advocating, whatever you want to call it helps kids with autism. More often than not it is a kid's mum doing this but it may be another trusted adult, even a teacher or para-educator who fills the role.

Hopefully someone does because these kids need help, because sadly, there are still a lot of people (mostly neurotypicals) who just can't seem to understand that not everyone perceives the world the same way. And they say kids with autism lack empathy! HA!

1 comment:

Mama Mara said...

My son, Rocky, starts high school next week, and all I can say is: Let the micromanaging begin. The school really wants him to use a locker, but last year we couldn't figure out a way to make this work. Tried different parts of the building (next to the special ed Resource room, library, school entrance). I say, let him carry his fully-loaded backpack if that's easier for him. I think it's great OT heavy work.

Best wishes for a great school year.