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3 yr old DS, HFA. PRT playgroup with no other DC or mainstream Montessori ?

(50 Posts)

Hi,
After your thoughts really. DS was dx HFA aged 2.3 yrs in March this year. He's been attending a Playgroup run by SALT centre with SALT and PRT staff with a Montessori teacher - so basically a preschool for children with Autism or speech/communicate challenges, small group of 4-6 kids aged 2-4, high staff:DC ratio.

It's perfect and he's doing great there but is currently the only child! All others moved on to kindegarten or moved away.

DS is highly verbal but script-y and has eye contact/joint attention/social issues. So time with other DC is v important.

I do 2-3 play dates a week and take him to tumble tots and a soft play place. He's an only child. We live abroad and fund all this privately.
We also pay for an EDSM play therapy session at home once a week. And take DS to a SN toddler soccer group.

I just don't know what to do: the playgroup leader says they will carry on even with just one child and hopes a new batch will join too. But should I be putting DS with other children in a
Mainstream preschool eg: Montessori with neurotypical peers (but no additional support) or leave him where he is, with highly motivated, skilful adults playing with him beautifully, encouraging wonderful communication breakthroughs - but no other children?

What would you do?

Thanks /)

Ineedmorepatience Tue 03-Dec-13 08:02:38

It sounds as if you are doing social stuff alongside the nursery but I can see your dilema.

He is still little so you would probably be ok to wait a while and see if others join the group.

What is he like with other children during your other activities ?

Good luck whatever you decide smile

Lesley25 Tue 03-Dec-13 18:07:10

if he is doing beautifully, i would leave him there. the social side can be achieved through the play dates. its the 1:1 skilled support at this age which can make a real difference.

Thanks for replies. I am a bit wary of him spending all HUD time playing with adults/parents or alone, but on balance it's better I guess that he breaks down, learns, internalised and practices play/social skills that he doesn't naturally have when he's little, as other NT children will always be there. I think after a year of special help he will be much better able to handle kindegarten at 4.

If he goes to ms preschool now I think he won't get any help at all. He will be the boy scripting away in the sandpit by himself. Teachers won't do much: he's no bother, not hurting himself or anyone, not distressed. Just not socialising. Or learning how to. sad

The play date thing isn't much help really as he just wanders off and plays with the other child's toys, appropriately but little parallel play. Too young for collaborative play but he's not exposed to anything like the hubbub of a busy little preschool.

I will keep him where he is I think and cross my fingers he catches up and catches on when he's 4 and starts kindegarten properly. No worries on the academics, he is mad to learn stuff and is clearly clever. It's just the social stuff - imitating, following, showing, requesting, etc.

It's being a child who wants to play with other children that we need to work on.

sad

zzzzz Tue 03-Dec-13 23:52:21

Why can't he have 1:1 at the montessori school?

zzzzz Tue 03-Dec-13 23:53:24

Is it a traditional (accredited) montessori or a "based on Montessori's work"?

The school is not in UK.
We can't pay someone to attend and stay with him.
The school class sizes are 8 children.
There are 3 classes, mixed age.
It's trad Montessori.

zzzzz Wed 04-Dec-13 12:07:45

Have you spoken to the Montessori school about him having 1:1 support there? The reason I ask is the ideal for many children with HFA is to have the focused help of one assistant. Do they have experience of children with his degree of special need and specifically experience of ASD? If they do and you can get your 1:1 in there with him plus advice and recommendations from SALT, I would say that was a ideal enviroment. (Nb my son is 8 and severely language disordered probably HFA but Undiagnosed)

I personally think my son (who had little functional language at that stage) would have got more out of swimming/riding/music lessons at that stage than being by himself in a nursery.

What is the normal path for children in your sons situation in your country?

I am a huge fan of Montessori equipment for children with communicatin difficulties. It is brilliant for so many aspects of early primary education.

I haven't asked them. I should, but I don't think we could find or fund a person to stay with him every day at the preschool. It would also mark him out as different to children and parents forever. I live on a small island and everything is gossip. I'm not sure that 1:1 in a school is what DS needs, he's more Aspergers than anything: he's v high functioning - very independent. It's a bit of a conundrum really because he's spending so much time with parents and adults and not much with other kids. I will talk to the school and ask if I can watch for a few hours to see if he could cope.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 17:26:16

Does he have precocious language or is it mostly echolalic?

If his language is delayed/disordered he has HFA not Aspergers (though it is probably now all classed as ASD in most of tries now). The need for 1:1 help is less about how "bright" he is anymore about how engaged/how much he understands. The 1:1 is there to keep him on task and help him understand instructions.

Montessori education started as education for children with special needs and broadened into mainstream, so if your practitioner is well trained they should be well placed to educate him. That said if he is very withdrawn/unengaged/rigid child lead education may not be very effective without a 1:1.

You have nothing to be ashamed of so I shouldn't let the gossips get you down. You need to get over all of this before he gets much older. ASD is just a disability like being blind or deaf or any other obstacle. It is highly unlikely that a child I agonised with HFA is ever going to be able to "pass for normal" in the close confines of any school.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 17:27:49

Classed as ASD in most countries.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 17:29:10

I agonised= diagnosed, sorry typing with one eye on the children

Hyperlexia, precocious language, but they don't dx AS here due to DSM changes. Appropriate play, imaginative play, v high scores for receptive and expressive language - low eye contact. Scripting is for own amusement or to chill out. Pr

...oops. Pronoun reversal is main symptom of language disorder.

The issue with gossip here is that, lets assume DS goes mainstream and wants to make friends/ be invited to birthdays and

Bloody phone,

And play dates as he gets

Older. Him having a 1:1 assistant will forever mark him out amongst peers and parents of peers. That's his future. Pro

Fucking phone. Sorry. Shit.

I want to DS to have chances of being a normal boy.putting him in with peers but with an assistant attached to him means his ASD is known, talked about and I'm sorry to say, used against him or us. I am trying to protect his future as well as enrich his present. I am hoping intensive early work will give him the skills and confidence to go mainstream and have friends and be just a quirky, cheerful boy in the class - not marked out as special needs.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 18:26:06

Children with ASD are "normal" in the way you mean. They are normal little boys and girls who find parts of communication baffleing. I think you have some work to do with how you feel about disability.

Are you saying his only real issue is lack of eye contact and repeating cartoons/conversations when bored? If so how on earth did you get a dx at 2.3?

Realistically children who outgrow their dx (and I haven't met/heard of one) are far more likely to have "look at him, those mad Drs/over anxious parents, thought he was autistic!" Type comments. Do you know anything about your work colleagues early years education? Have you ever heard anyone say "yeah you think he's bright but he had an adult support him in his early years".

Why would you want your son to go to play at someone's house if they wouldn't want him if they "knew the dreadful truth"?

He got a dx because he has autism. From a board certified clinical psych after paediatrician referral following mchat concerns at 2 yr check. The usual full battery of tests. CARS, etc, can't remember all the names.

The prob is we not in UK. No friends, family, support network - that's all in UK. My friends and family love and accept all of us.

We are expats and dependent on fitting in to have any hope of social acceptance for us as a family. People here will not hesitate to gossip, judge and body swerve their precious DC from hanging out with the only SN boy in the class. They will make no effort to befriend us or him. Why bother?

Why are we here? DH career and easy, if expensive access to gold standard early intervention for DS. I will put up with any amount of loneliness for me but I have to try to get friends for DS. That means making play dates. Being pleasant. Fitting in. Not giving bitches the chance to write him off at 3. It won't matter that he had an assistant when he's grown but our life is here now and for the next few years and it does matter if his difference is so obvious as the boy who needed a helper all the time.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 19:04:39

If he has autism there is no way you are going to be able to hide it. The gap widens as developmental path diverges farther from the norm with age. What is merely a few months behind at 2 or three will typically be 25-30% of age behind in terms of maturity and social understanding. So at 3 your child may behave more like a 2 year old, but he is not in school and few social demands placed on him, but at 10 he may behave more like a 6 year old in a 10 year olds body with the constraints of the classroom and expectations of society placed on him.

I understand expat life very well wink, but probably not the same country.

If there s gold standard provision there IS a community of others facing the same dilemmas. Seek them out.

It's not like the UK. There is no SN parents community.
People here buy expensive services.
Or not, and their kids founder.
People don't talk about or accept SN.
I don't have that much work to do on my attitudes to durability, I hope, though I'm still frightened and grieving about DS dx but people here have a hell of a lot of work to do on theirs - and little reason to bother to try.

DS needs social contact with other kids in order to learn and grow. Therefore I have to sort that out for him in the absence of any existing network (we came here knowing nobody when he was a baby). I have to cover it up for now to have any chance at all of people accepting him/us and hope that later, once we are accepted, they will continue to accept and engage.

It sounds bleak because it is. I would love to not have to hide, to confide and ask for help but we need to make friends first. I need to stay positive or I will slip back down - things have just started to get better for us and I'm trying to stay hopeful and belatedly make some kind of life here. The first 2 years were hell: DS had major sleep issues and I was too exhausted to function let alone make friends, no help with childcare so just in survival mode.

Durability - disability.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 19:33:43

What about the other children at his present nursery? Have they ALL left the country?

You sound very very battered by it all.

There is absolutely no SN community where I live in the UK and that is the norm. This is the community.

Are you expecting him to go to school without any support at all and without telling the teachers?

Other children: 2 left country.
2 gone to kindergarten. One m/s (has cp but is nt) other to special school. DS always presented as pretty much nt compared to the other boys who were variously non verbal/ very sensory seeking/ came over as clearly autistic.

It is noteworthy that during time there were other kids there the parents barely acknowledged each other at pick up. They scuttled away looking embarrassed.
And that sets the tone.
And tbh DS needs exposure to nt kids.
He sees the SN kids at soccer.
They are non verbal.
He is very verbal.
They stim. Scream. Don't engage.
He doesn't.

I would like him to at least have a fucking chance to have nt friends.

I don't know about school yet.
He's down for m/s but he's not even 3: I will see what pans out. I just want to try to fit in first, while he's so little and getting so much help its our best shot.

zzzzz Thu 05-Dec-13 19:57:43

How verbal you are is not an indication of how severe the ASD is.

I don't know how to say this gently but, you seem to value friendships with nt children far more than friendships with children with sn. Your son has sn and will pick up on this attitude. If the attitudes of society over there are as brutal as you say then I am very worried for you all.

His self esteem must be paramount in every choice you make, because he has a hard path to walk. Being hidden and lied about by your own parents is going to send messages to him about who he is and messages to those around you about how they may treat both him and his family.

Read
"Send in the Idiots" by Kamran Nazeer
"Emergence" by Temple Grandin

Both autistic and interesting.

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