Today was my first day assisting in my sons classroom, and it was also the first time I've ever had the oppurtunity to really observe him in a setting with typical peers (3/4 of his class are typically developing children).
The experience was both shocking and validating for me. It was shocking because I did not realize how different he really is. I didn't expect his peers to have conversations with me and to follow directions in the way that they did. I don't think I saw one of them throw a tantrum, and I cannot believe that. I was initially surprised to learn that my son was assigned a 1:1 aide, and I thought that they were going a little overboard with it, but today I saw that he wouldn't be able to attend school without one. Often times he even had more than one adult assisting him. I don't think I was in denial, I just don't think I had enough exposure to typical children to have any idea.
On the other hand, the experience was very vailidating because I had been blaming myself for not being able to handle my son without respite care. I honestly thought it was because of my own limitations, and that other children were also nearly as difficult to care for. But, watching his teacher and an aide on the playground with printed PECS pics and an ipad, signing and trying to make him understand that the rest of the class was walking inside and that recess was over, and he was just sitting there, ready to have a meltdown if anyone touched him, I realized that it's NOT ME!
It is nice to know that he is, in fact, extremely difficult, and to realize that I'm actually very patient with him, and that I'm actually doing really well with his behavior. But on the other hand, I actually feel sad about his diagnosis now. I think that I really felt the weight of it for the first time today, and I really wasn't prepared for that.
The good news is...I'm going to my first autism support group meeting tonight! I finally found out where all of the autism parents are hiding :) Good timing!
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