So, for me personally, I believe that Sam is very intelligent and very much a three year old (almost 4). But, this past week has been somewhat of an eye opener for me.
The first reality hits...............sometimes people say the darndest things. I had a friend recently drill me about the preschool program that Sam is in. As I have shared in earlier journals that Sam is in early childhood special education. He will receive services for as long as he needs. Because of his Autism, he receives services while in a preschool program in our district. The program is a wonderful program. The classroom is made up of 10 regular education preschoolers and 5 autistic children. The special education staff and regular education staff team together in such a way that you don't even know who is who.
My friend who was questioning me about the program kept saying through the conversation "So do these parents know that their kids are going to be in a class with Autistic kids? How do they "sell" that to the parents to pay and have their kids attend that class?" Now, first of all this wouldn't have been so offensive, except for the following..... a) this was a good friend asking me this b) she kept on asking several times, as if so concerned as to the rights of the "regular" education parents knowing c) came across as if she would never put her kids in a program like that. I don't understand why parents don't want their children to learn about different abilities, different ethnicity, different physical structures. To protect our children too much is to unprotect society and all we are. The more we understand our differences the more we will see how we are truly the same "human spirit".
Hmmmmmmmmm........ this really bothered me after I left her. I kept playing the conversation over and over in my head, and also remembering her body language. My answer to her was that they didn't need to know, she in return could not believe it. Hasn't our world come farther than this? As a teacher and understanding inclusion, mainstreaming, etc.... all children have a right to learn to their fullest potential in an environment conducive to their needs. I CAN tell you that Sam will learn to his fullest potential by practicing, learning in a classroom environment, rather than in one-on-one ABA therapy as many parents of Autistic children prefer. His chances of being in a mainstream kindergarten with assistance are much greater than if he did not have this opportunity.
I then started to get myself even more angry as I pondered our conversation. Are not most people familiar with the ADA (American Disabilites Act)? Don't they understand confidentiality. The fact that my child is Autistic and in a preschool with hers or other children does not even need to be told to her essentially. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...............people make me think. And...reality reminds me just who real friends are.
The second reality hits.........so, this past week I was afforded a couple opportunities (just by chance) to see Sam with other 3 year olds. I don't usually get to see this, as I don't have any other friends with kids his age right now. It was somewhat sombering for me. I really do believe he is so smart. Besides some of his fine motor, balance issues, and speech, he seems so 3 to me. But then I saw "other" 3 year olds. The way they talk, move, respond to their environment. I must say it was the first time in a very long time I saw a difference, and understood that he was different. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.........