I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Damned lies and Statistics

In American, or more particularly in California, we are encouraged to nurture our inner child, to hold onto that innocence, especially if we wish to maintain our mental health. And who doesn’t want to do that?

As adults, we try and remember that even the most wizened and cynical of us, can
learn from children. But does that still hold true if those children are autistic? Probably not. Not going to glean a lot of insight from those little chappies, and they are mainly chaps, depending upon which set of statistics you care to favour.

Personally, I like the one that suggests that as many as 1 in 166 children are diagnosed with autism. I love statistics because you can prove anything with them by careful manipulation. I thought that I was the only person locally, or even nationally with two autistic boys, but now that they’re both at the same school, I find that other families with two. [Ref 1]

What does that mean? Well, it means that together, we three families, have six children, autistic ones, of a similar age, in one school. If there are thirty children in a class, that means that each class will have an autistic child. And why would that matter? It means that your child will be in close proximity with mine. In fact, because my boys are only 17 months apart, they could be in the same class together.

They separate twins, but the same doesn’t apply to siblings, I’ve checked. That means that your child might sit next to mine, perhaps one either side. In fact those other autistic children, the two that are the right age, might end up in the same class too. My two and four more, because it’s largely a matter of chance. Wouldn’t that be super! Your child with four or six little autistic kids, all pals together in the same class. It would be even better if the class had only 20 children, although it would mess up my statistics a bit.

Your child would be a great role model for my children. Mine could copy yours, then they’d learn how to behave properly, just like yours do. Children learn more from their peers than their parents by the time they’re in school, a sort of transfer of allegiance if you will. But that’s fabulous for me, because you’ve taught your children a great set of moral values, things that mine might not understand, like non-discrimination and inclusion. You know, like the Barney song: 'we include everyone!' I bet your kids can sing every word perfectly. Doesn't that warm your heart?

Don’t worry, I lied when I said that our children would meet. My children are in the special ed class, separate, protected and nurtured, because it would be ghastly if they were all in together. They might be bullied. Wouldn't that be dreadful? Mine of course, not yours.

Fancy a play date? Pick up the phone and give me a tinkle.

[Ref 1] and don't forget 'George and Sam,' by Charlotte Moore, but they're on a different continent so we won't count them. Then there's Luke Jackson and his siblings {Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome} but they're on the same tiny little island, so we'll ignore them too.


AshleyLeo said...

OMG what a terrific post! I was rivoted while reading it, wondering where you would take me, where the scenario would end up. So sad isn't it? That ignorance and discrimination prevail, even today, just 2 days into 2007?

I have found, at least in my small world, that typical children are instinctively accepting of fellow children that are different. But quickly they learn by taking cues from their teachers and other parents. It makes me hopping mad!

Camera Obscura said...

#1-Son has never been officially diagnosed, and if we had him tested might not even make the "cut" (besides, he's intelligent enough to game the test.) But whenever I get the inevitable contact from his teachers that says, "What is with him? How do I handle him?" I refer him to the "Handling Aspergers" page of the district Special Needs manual in the school library.

And of course #2-Son is hyperlexic, started out echolalic (after being just plain non-verbal) and has hypotonia and fine-motor-skills problems. So yeah, lightning strikes twice quite often.

We've worked over the years to keep #2 in as many "mainstream" classes as he can handle although we had to give up on math and language arts after sixth grade. When he spends his days with other special needs kids of any stripe, all of whom are almost guarenteed to be more severely affected than he is, he picks up their mannerisms, stims, etc. We keep him with his normal peers to encourage "publicly acceptable" behavior and interaction.

Sarah said...

My son is in a mainstream classroom and we have had a lot of problems with bullying. At first I couldn't figure out why he wasn't telling people when the kids were mean or hit or pushed him. Later though, I figured it out. One of the rules in his class is "No Tattling." Sandis took this to heart and even to this day cannot generalize that statement and understand that it does not apply when kids are purposefully being mean or abusive. Figuring out where the bullying is happening is the hard part then. Our first cue is he suddenly no longer wants to do something he always enjoyed doing previous.

Mark said...

California is a long way from Wisconsin, otherwise I'd love a play date! However, I do understand your dismay. It would be so nice if all the children could be included and taught together. My oldest is mainstreamed, through hard work on his part and ours, and the techniques they've used to make the material approachable to him *gasp* helps other kids too! Can you imagine...there are other visual learners who aren't autistic!

But, sadly, despite Willy's success Alex is tucked away in a safe little room, gets to visit kindergarten, but that's about it. And yet, last year when he did have another kindergarten class where, once again, he visited, he made some real friends because some of the kids were willing to make that effort. I really miss that for him. I really do. He may have friends now from either class, but his new teachers don't/won't say so there's no way for me to know.

And I hope at least some of that was coherent!


We suspected Beauty's autism from 9 months so a search for a school began quite early. The children we encountered along the way were brilliant, the teachers were the ones who were intolerant.I do not know how the US education system works but in the UK primary teachers are given a general teaching education with a limited amount of Special Needs teaching included in their teaching.
One nursery teacher claimed that she had not received any Special Needs training (she was in her 50's)and did not want Beauty in her class as Beauty would hinder the progress of the other children.
Ok think those things but don't tell a parent that.In a mainstream school Beauty would have spent her day (well part of it, the government would not fund a teachers aide for the whole day)with a teachers aide,I was told that the teachers aide would probably not have any special Needs training and the teachers aides they had in the school already worked there as a dinner lady and a cleaner.Hey I have worked as a cleaner, a cloak room attendant and a waitress, that's not my point, I would like my daughter to have at least one Special Needs trained teacher in her class.
Due to funding, which not even the Welsh Assembly could explain when I asked,the only way that Beauty would get a trained Special Needs teacher, Special Needs teachers aides,physiotherapy, occupational therapy, art therapy, music therapy,speech therapy in the school that she went to was to send her to a Special Needs school.
So in theory there was no choice.
Luckily the school she attends is 5 minutes walk from the house and is the autism provision for the city. There are children with physical difficulties in the school so she socialises with children who are normally developing in all other ways apart from their physical problems.
I do agree with Camera Obscura though, Beauty has picked up the most delightful habits in school........nose picking,boogie eating and butt scratching.Nice child!Even her two other sisters who are also on the spectrum have never done anything that attractive!
Also it's not a good idea to stand too close to our family as autism struck 3 times, 3 daughters on the spectrum and 3 not! The older two are not as profoundly autistic as Beauty, but so much harder work in a different way.
Wishing everyone a joyful New Year.

Cat said...

When my son was younger we discovered a non-profit daycare that served special needs and typcal children 50/50. It was a wonderful thing for him and my 2nd son. Of course in school inclusion is a very dirty word. I work, work, and work to get as many inclusion hours as possible in my son's school week. Even as a high school student I can tell you the response from other students is never as negative as the parents or school administrators. I don't know why they are so fearful of my son or him interacting with their children...

qualityg says said...


Great Post! I can't wait until school starts up again next week.

Your comments and others motivate me to keep plugging away with my boys (students).

Happy New Year.


Anonymous said...

I've just discovered you all, what looks like a wonderful gaggle of parents of children with autism (?).

I'm a school psychologist in California. Don't shoot me! The district I work in has a wonderful inclusion program -- 15 typical kids and 5 kids with IEPs, for anything ranging from speech delay to autism to blindness. Inclusion is for real here.

I can't tell you how heartening it is to stumble upon a group of parents who obviously love and approve of their spectrum-y kids. My battle is with parents who want their kids separated out from the others (who, as it happens in this district, are black and brown). Many of them want a little (white) home island of ABA/DTT. It kills me that their kids don't have playmates! Even worse, it kills me that their parents are flaw-centric and don't acknowledge their kids' wonderful qualities.

So, good on ya!

C said...

I like your post. As a First grade teacher and former special ed teacher, I am sad that teachers aren't more educated in teaching students with Autism, because it isn't "if" they will ever have a student with Autism...it is "when"...

I have three students on the spectrum this year. The kids do great with the mix, but the other parents at times have problems with this and I have heard rumors my classroom is being called the special ed room. I have also heard that parents fear their kids will be held back because of my Autism students. This is so crazy.

Good luck with your kids. I enjoy your blog.

I hope I didn't post two times. If so just delete. The computer shut down the first time while posting.:-)

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