Autism and VolunteeringAutism and Volunteering

My son officially started high school this past summer. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about him in high school, but for now I’ll discuss his first ever high school class—the summer health class.

What’s the summer health class?

In our school district, it’s common practice for incoming freshman high school students to take the required health class over the summer. Not all students do it, of course, but the majority do. By taking it early, it frees up an elective for ninth grade.

As the reason for our son to take the class, we had something else in mind. 

Which was?

During the transition from elementary school to middle school, we purposely had our son take an English class during the summer BEFORE entering middle school.

Our son had been in elementary school, on the same campus, for seven years.

He had to switch to a completely new environment after seven years.

He was a bit behind in English, so we decided that an extra class would not only help him out, but would also get him on the new campus, every day, for five weeks.

It could only be a win-win, in our minds.

And, it was. He did great in the class, and, by the time school started, he was already comfortable on the new campus. The transition was that much easier.

So, we’re pulling from the same playbook.

This summer, my son completed his three week health class at the new high school campus. That’s three weeks he spent walking about a much larger campus (much larger than the middle school campus) getting comfortable before high school officially starts.

Therefore, he didn’t walk onto the high school campus cold on the first day of school.

Again, a win-win.

What else happened?

A cool extension of this health class was the requirement of each student to complete a certain number of volunteer hours. There are volunteer hours required during the four-years of high school, but these were hours that were required for this one class.

What did we do?

I work for the YMCA, so I contacted the person in charge of volunteers there. She set up my son in the system and had him take the online course. Then, he had to be interviewed.

When he was finally “official,” he worked his hours in the child care room (where I work).

He did his hours without me, though, because I wasn’t scheduled.

I was told he did great. He played with the little kids and helped out the employees.

And, he completed his health class volunteer requirement.

This was the first time my son had been a volunteer. He had witnessed me volunteer many times over the years, but had never done the hours himself.

There were short periods when he was bored, when the child care room had no kids, but for the most part he liked the experience.

I’m pleased the high school requires their kids to volunteer for the community. It’s a great thing for kids to do, not just as a college requirement. But, volunteering itself builds life skills and adds character to kids who are just coming into their own as adults.

Therefore, my son has a weekly volunteering schedule with the YMCA. Once a week. I can’t wait to see how far he’ll go with it.

Autism and Volunteering

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