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Quashing ASD son individuality(16 Posts)
My son is in and has ASD. The differences between him and his peers is really beginning to stand out now. His style of play is a lot lower and a lot different to his classmates. He is his own person and has lots of quirks that make him stand out from other children. I always thought that embracing his differences and letting him be his own person was the right thing to do but after talking to a fellow autism mum today who has a 20 yr old with autism and a 7yr old who has just been diagnosed . She was telling me her biggest regret with her eldest was letting him be himself. With her 7byr old who she says is a carbon copy of her elder son she is trying everything to make him conform to the norm. She wants no special treatment for him at all so no 1-1 help or any adjuustments made in class to fit ariound him. She thinks the reason her eldest son can not cope independantly is because allowances were made for him when he was growing up and he wasn't made to fit in to normal adult society. I want my son to be able to cops as an autistic adult but at the same time I don't think its right to quash his individuality. And yes to most people he is disobedient rude and wierd. So should I stop his quirks and work really hard at getting him to be normal. This lady is lovely and a real advocate for autism but not sure this would work for my son. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks xx
She sounds quite deluded. I think you know your own son best and when children are small, they should be kept comfortable, secure and happy as far as possible and if that means making special arrangements to cater for Autism, then that's the right thing to do.
You will never ever stop his autism, it's not something that will go away and you can't train his quirks out of him.
Wow! I hope she doesnt damage her younger child's mental health!!
I don't think I'd class her as an advocate for autism.
How is it advocating to force someone to mimic others at all times because their own way of being is offensive to you?
She's not an advocate, she's abusive, just as those oh-so-loving Christian fundamentalists are not gay advocates when they "reeducate" their gay children into pseudo-heterosexuals.
I'm wondering if perhaps she didn't explain herself very well. Perhaps she hoped that her DS would be helped to live in the "real world".
DN was diagnosed very young and was at specialist schools from the word go, including some time as a weekly boarder. He also has quite severe learning difficulties. There was a lot of emphasis on explaining things to him, especially things that made him feel uneasy or frightened. Lots of help at socialising and visits to shops and cafes etc and learning how to use these and interact with the people involved.
He enjoys a pint at the pub with his support worker and friends and going to concerts and the cinema. He does still sometimes find the world a frightening place but thanks to the excellent strategies he was taught he copes very well. Maybe that's what she hopes for?
That sounds a bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire! It must be difficult if her DS1 doesn't cope independently but to decide that no support at all will make her DS2 cope seems extreme.
I have a problem with some of the support that's put in place for my DS. It's often ad-hoc and not thought through; it becomes fixed quickly and doesn't get adjusted to suit his learning. I've seen no evidence of school attempting to fade supports as he gets older in an organised way to help independence. So I can understand OP's friend's thoughts - but my solution is to keep in at the school to be flexible and forward thinking. I'd hate to think how much damage DS' self esteem would take if he got zero support- and how quickly he'd get to school refusal! - so that's just not an option!
I have refused some "bright ideas" but that's not the same as what you are describing.
If you force your son to act like someone else he will never be able to carry it off properly and, more importantly, he would be unhappy.
With my son, now 7, I've accepted he needs extra help but I am gradually fading the help away until he can do things independently. The TA in his class tends to over-help him and does things for him and this will undermine his ability to do things for himself. She won't be with him next year and I'm going to speak to the new TA to explain how I'd prefer things to be done.
At home I step back and get him to do things for himself and to think. I get him to put in place systems to help him to do things. I can see it paying off gradually.
Since the school have put in place additional help for him he's changed so much. He now likes school and is doing well academically. They are working every day on his social and motor skills. He still likes to go off by himself a bit at playtime as he finds the yard a bit overwhelming but he enjoys playing with his friends on a more one to one level. I think back to his first year at school when he had no help - it was awful! I was getting calls from the school all the time about 'incidents' and he often had fits of crying before going inside in the morning. I feel he is extremely lucky to live in a time where help is given and adjustments are made for him as he's doing really well as a result of them.
Isn't it a middle ground for those kids who are in the spectrum and able. I don't want my ds to hate school as he's beginning too now. But we will be encouraging his life skills.
There's a huge difference between teaching life skills and teaching children to try to "pass for normal".
This mum is part of the reason why so many adults with ASD have poor mental health.
OP, I got my diagnosis 2 years ago at the age of 34. I have spent my whole life and all of my energy 'fitting in' because that's what everyone expected of me. It is exhausting and my mental health is very fragile as a result. I'm convinced that if I'd been diagnosed as a child and given the appropriate support I would now be much more settled in myself, more aware of my limits and stress triggers, and much more emotionally robust. I can't seem to break the habit of doing the utmost to appear NT, despite the fact that it destroys me (I have a breakdown at least once a year).
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