My son has been in an autistic support classroom all of his young life. This is what he needs in order to learn. One on one learning is key for his education.
He also needs to be with other NT children so he can learn social behaviors from them. (All the good ones hopefully.) With inclusion comes so many challenges but so far he is doing well. When he is in his inclusion classes, which consist of all the specials, science, social studies, and homeroom, he is challenged with his speech and social skills. He does his best to fit in and pay attention to his peers. This is exhausting to him.
Have you ever walked into a room with people you don't really know and have to try to break into conversation? It is difficult for typical adults to do let alone a child. Where do you start with small talk? What do you have in common? He has been working hard on circles of communication. This is the back and forth we NTs call conversation. This has been a difficult task for my boy. He tries very hard and is getting better.
Back to the classroom. Fifth grade can be brutal. Remember those days? The social pressure. The teasing. The 'wonder what she's saying about me' times? OK. Maybe not for you but for me, I didn't really like school. If it wasn't for my very best friend always being by my side I'd be a wreck!! (Love you Janel.) Anyway...... my son. He is in the inclusion classroom 39% of his day. All of the classwork is modified for him, love his school and teachers. When the room is divided up into small groups, he also goes off into one of those groups and always has partners. Last year he was included in a PowerPoint presentation lesson and worked well with his group. PowerPoint! I don't even know how to do that.
He doesn't get invited to birthday parties. He doesn't go to a friend's house after school. If you ask him who his friend is he answers his sister or his uncle.
Where am I going with this?
I opened up his backpack this morning, the day after his birthday, and took out a notebook I never saw before. In his inclusion classroom, each child wrote my son a note. Most of the notes were about him being a good friend. How the kids enjoy his company. Think he's funny. And more importantly, hoping he gets a really good gift. Lol. This was an inclusion perk I really appreciated. I read through them and started to get teary eyed. (Can't stand being mushy!!) I've included some samples of what the kids wrote. I love each one. When he is feeling down, we are going to bring this notebook out and read them.
By the way, he said he had an awesome birthday and came to me at 12:30am, crying to tell me he wishes his birthday didn't have to end. Or in his words, "No more birthday. I have to wait for next year. Bye birthday." Then he sobbed his way to sleep.