My son Alexander is almost 15 years old and was diagnosed with autism when he was around two years old. He did early intervention and went to two different schools for preschool when he was three and four. When he was ready to enter kindergarten, he was not able to join the special education program, but was able to join the mainstream program. When he was younger, he had multiple auditory problems and sensory issues. Things also had to be on schedule and done the same way. If not, he would become really upset and have temper tantrums.
Alexander learned to speak pretty well before he entered kindergarten, but he still wasn’t potty trained at that time. One of the strangest things was when he started kindergarten he was in a class with 12 “typical” kids and 12 kids with a disability. The school system we belong to only has half-day kindergarten, but the special education kids continue throughout the day when the other 12 typical kids went home. In just two weeks of Alexander being exposed to a classroom with typical kids, he became completely potty trained.
He has come a long way and a lot of his progression has to do with being integrated with typical kids. In his middle years of elementary school, Alexander would always say to me “I don’t want to ride a special ed bus, I don’t need to anymore.” So we used a lot of things that he wanted as goals to get him to behave better and act a little bit more typical. Luckily, having a sister that is typical has been a gift from God. She has been wonderful with him and has gotten him to act more and more typical as he gets older. Right now, Alexander is in ninth grade and he attends most classes, but does have some academic issues which is our biggest hurdle at this point.
When he was in eighth grade I tried medication with him. It didn’t work, and I did not want to medicate him because I was concerned of possible side effects. He still gets obsessed with certain things, such as listening to music that he probably shouldn’t. For the last few years, he’s been obsessed with Saturday Night Live. He often says that’s what he would like to do when he gets older is to be on the show.
Having him in my life has been the biggest gift and he has made me a much more patient person. I’m not trained in special education, but I’ve always used my motherly instincts and knowing my son to do what’s best for him.
Another thing we’re working on is wearing dress clothes. Now that Alex is in ninth grade, he is going to be getting his first suit, dress shirt and tie. Before that he only liked to wear short sleeve shirts and shorts and sweatpants. It’s also very hard when people look at him differently because he has autism.
We have Alexander enrolled in a good school district that has been wonderful and has helped him come so far. He is on the right track to graduate in 2019. I would love my son to graduate with all the kids he started school with – it would be so important to him.
Having a child with autism will always be a blessing, regardless of how things turn out – these kids are the most wonderful kid you’ll ever meet! They’re honest, they tell you what they think, they’re loving and they just want to be in the world, be happy and live a normal life with no judgment!
Thanks for having this and for letting people tell their story! Thanks for letting me write this in for whoever’s reading it – thank you for reading! Take care and love all these kids because they deserve it!