There’s been some debate over whether or not a child with Autism is better off in a classroom with other Autistic children or if they’re better off in a classroom of NT (NeuroTypical) children… the obvious answer is, why not both?
I guess I am just spoiled (or my son is) in that his school will offer an hour or two of ‘integration’ time where my son gets to join a class of children his age where the ‘normal’ children are. He tends to sit quietly to himself, I could only imagine how difficult it would be when I think back to my childhood, but it is a good experience for him. Even if all he does is observe, it’s educational. If it didn’t benefit him, I could simply tell them to stop and they would. It’s great when a school listens to the parents!
The problem is that not everyone has a school that is that flexible. Most schools don’t even have a mix where you get that option. You’re either in with other Autistics or you’re not and that’s that. If that’s the case, you’re left having to choose.
My advice to you, as it is with every parent of every child in every situation, stop expecting someone else to do what you need them to do. If your child is in a classroom with only Autistic children, then take the time (make the time if you have to) and get your child out to a park or play centre as much as you possibly can and give them that hour or two ‘integration’ time yourself.
As parents, we stretch our time pretty thin but you know what? If you had an expert at time management step in and help you out, you’d find that you have a lot more time available to you than you think. And even if you don’t, make it! This is your child we’re talking about and no one anywhere ever will give your child everything they need no matter how much you want it.
I had to sell my house and lose just about everything to find this school for him. So no, I’m not spoiled. I deserve it, my son deserves it and we did what we had to do to get it. And when he gets home, we still go to visit family and friends, parks, the beach and other places he enjoys so he can play with more children.
If your child is secluded and you don’t like it? It’s your fault. If your child is included and you don’t like it? It’s your fault. If you can raise such a loud voice as to shake the foundations of the town in which you live because you’re so outraged that they’re not doing what your child needs… why can’t you put that energy into doing something about it yourself?
Your child is not second best and so you shouldn’t settle for second best. You and your child need those schools and programs but you know what? They’re not there to do everything for you.
Get involved in making the changes required and more importantly, get involved with your child. Make the time if there is none. Because in the end, years later, if things don’t turn out how you wanted, there will be no one to blame but yourself.