Walking the Autistic verses Typical Line
What does that mean?
How does my son with autism go from a special needs-type of situation to a situation with typical kids?
Is he really this flexible? How are other kids at going back and forth between two worlds?
How can you help your kids navigate between special needs groups/classes/experiences to more typical experiences?
My son is in an inclusion class with only typical kids. He can go from a physical education class where he might discuss dogs with a peer (while not looking at them), then to a speech class with a peer who is on the spectrum, then back to his typical class, then later that day to a VIP swim team practice with kids who flap and jump up and down.
And, he typically does pretty well with this schedule. How does he do it?
Some of his peers at school know my son by now. They know he occasionally runs and makes noises, they know he sometimes gets “engine breaks.” I think most of them have accepted him.
My son knows on his swim team or soccer team, there are kids who are more like him. At soccer practice, for example, sometimes there are four or five kids all running around flapping and making “strange” noises.
It’s simply a part of his typical day to go from one situation to the other. No big deal.
Do all other autistic kids do as well?
Maybe, maybe not.
Of course, I wish that all autistic kids could go back and forth with relative ease, but I do understand that not all autistic kids are made equally. And, it took us a long time to get my son to this point. He has come a long way.
How can we help our child go back and forth? What’s it like for kids walking the autistic verses the typical line?
Well, the best suggestion I can give is to first try it.
If your child has a more mild form of autism, for example, I would suggest a more inclusive educational program where your child is with typical students. Then, if your child has an after school program, maybe try something that has more typical kids as well.
Then, other programs you child attends, may usually with special needs kids.
Living in the real world
I think the idea is that eventually your child will have to live in the real world.
They need exposure with special needs peers (to learn social skills, for example), but they also need to try to find their way with typical peers.
They have to practice.
The earlier the better
If your child is still young, why not try an art class with typical peers on the same day he has speech and OT?
Or, some other inclusive type of activity. Something with lots of “typical” peers.
Has it always been easy?
Not at all. He has always been more accepted within a special needs situation than a typical situation. He has sometimes had issues with a typical peer, for example.
Luckily, most of those situations have been brokered by an aide or a teacher.
One time, my child was so obsessed with Minecraft that he would “stalk” a typical peer. He wanted to talk to that peer so much about Minecraft that he couldn’t stop himself. The peer eventually mentioned it to the school teacher who talked to my son’s aide who talked to me. It was strange explaining the word, “stalking” to my son, but I had to do it.
I had to help him make an adjustment. “You have to give Johnny a break.”
It was extra work, but I think it paid off.
I always think you should try to expose your child to whatever would help him or her become a confident and integral part of our society.
If your child learns how to go from one situation to another (whether it’s a special needs-only situation to a more typical situation) then that flexibility can only be good for him, right.
I think so. That’s what I strive for with my son. And, I hope you do, too.
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