School Daze

schooldesks

Parents with kids and teens on the spectrum are starting to notice the range of different experiences they are having with regards to education, at least in my home county. While this is a goal further down the line for SPARC, I am fascinated by how a school district can have such extremes in providing services for those with special needs.  The private and charter school sector has similar range of differences, leading to parents trying school after school in hopes that they actually provide the services that they say that they do (because I’m learning that this isn’t always the case, either).

Right now, I am looking at what is available in my county. I hope to start reaching out in the spring and summer to these programs already in place and help them connect better to minority communities. There are some great resources out there that many do not know about. I hope to change that and help bridge some obvious gaps. This is honestly Stage Two in SPARC Guidance’s plans, but with Stage One in its testing phase already (on an individual basis), I want to start laying groundwork for the next steps.

There will probably be some future posts on this topic as I learn more about what is available for families in the school district and the community.

Just because you cannot see the movement, does not mean that movement is not happening!

Stay tuned!

 

Thursday Thoughts

After dealing with hurricanes threatening most of the people I know, some family crisis, and a generally busy schedule, I have emerged from oblivion!

The article that pulled me out of, well, life was a somewhat familiar trope for me in this field: the hunt for a “cure” at any cost. This time, though, the focus was an approach I had never heard anything negative about until now.

I have heard about the Son-Rise approach off and on throughout my career. For some reason, it was often interchanged with the DIR/Floortime approach, which is different but seems to have a similar thread of being more naturalistic. I noticed, though, that I didn’t see many families in my work attempting this approach. I went on to study Floortime and ABA more closely, becoming an advocate of the Early Start Denver Model’s combination of the best of both worlds.

This article, though, really looks at what happened when autism therapy became a business. It aims mostly at Son-Rise, but the pattern is pretty familiar for any family who has uncovered every stone in a search for answers. They really go to all corners for their children, and sometimes people/organizations take advantage of that by suggesting that they have all of the answers.

I wanted to say this much: Parents, I know you see many of us as experts, the ones to come in and “fix” everything. I do not see that as my job, and I know others who feel this way. I want to empower YOU, because at the end of the day, you are the ones who love and are with this individual 24/7. Yes, I know lots of terminology. Yes, I have seen lots of clients and gained great insight into the world of autism. I still need YOU. Your child/teen/adult still needs YOU. After every therapy session, homeopathic oil blend, or new breakthrough, it still comes down to you and them. In all honesty, I learn more from my clients than any book, training, or degree program can possibly teach me. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and so are their families.

Anyway, coming off of a really great session yesterday, I wanted to share that. The session wasn’t great because the client had “perfect behavior.” It was great because everyone (me, the parent, and the client) learned something.

I feel like I’m rambling randomly (and I probably am), but I wanted to share those thoughts. The article is below, and opens up quite a dialogue about the Son-Rise approach in particular. Oh, and shout out to one of my former coworkers, Andrew Shahan, who is featured in this article and who I count as one of my favorite trainers. 🙂

A ‘cure’ for autism at any cost

“Broken Normals”

This debate that is summed up in the video below is pretty much the epicenter of the autism world: “cure/treat” versus acceptance.

It is what separates the different therapeutic approaches, the location and allotment of funding, and cultural response with regards to autism. Do we aim to “fix” autism, or do we aim to accept autism? While I personally come from the angle of acceptance, a sizable chunk of the autism therapeutic community thinks otherwise, and that is evident in where the money is going.

At some point as a society, we accepted other forms of neurodiversity and assimilated them into the flock. Even though discrimination is still present, and laws to protect are still needed, we overall moved past the need to completely erase certain conditions. It took a LOT of work, though, and the fight continues today. I wonder when we will get to that point with autism, and how much education and acceptance it will take.

I may do a much longer post on this subject later, or maybe even a series. Heaven knows the subject deserves it. For now, this is a brief look into it.

VICE News: “Broken Normals”

From Down Under…

I came across this article, and realized that it opens up a question that has always been simmering in the American psyche as well. I’ve seen it manifest in parents asking other parents to move their autistic kids to another pool, or another part of the playground, because they are being “distracting” or “bothersome.” I’ve seen it manifest in school systems who repeatedly try to shoehorn all special needs kids and teens into a few special education classrooms with no regard to their developmental levels, with over-extended and underpaid teachers (I mean, I feel all teachers here are underpaid, but you get the idea).

I definitely fall on the side of allowing mainstreaming if the child/teen is ready for it, because everyone involved grows from it. The other students learn acceptance (and may get some academic help from their new peers), and the teachers start learning to interact with a group of students that some of them seem to…I guess fear would be the closest word. Some teachers seem genuinely fearful of having to interact with special needs students; I think it may be because they aren’t really taught or trained on how to interact and teach them unless they take specific classes for it. They’re afraid of doing something wrong.

In any case, this article covers the debate in Australia fairly well. It recently came to the forefront with one senator suggesting that special needs students should not be mainstreamed at all because the other students are “held back” by the amount of time the teachers spend on the special needs student(s). Naturally, that angered a LOT of people.

What do you all think about the mainstreaming question? Yay, nay, or it depends?

Experts condemn Pauline Hanson’s comments about children with autism