I have taught many children for many years, with varied abilities and needs. My last special ed class was called RISE... children with severe Autism, who needed a special environment. That was us... our classroom. A very special environment created to meet their sensory and educational needs. Then I taught regular ed. My regular ed classrooms had many children in them with needs that were as yet, undiagnosed (for very good reason), but they were on a "special ed" watch list. Many of these children simply needed extra help and time to mature, to get where they needed to be.
In today's world, we expect a higher level of performance from our children, offer few energy outlets, and little time for exploration. I'm not really sure what makes us think that just because we expect it, their mental processes and reflexes will be ready, especially when we aren't giving them a chance to grow through experiences. Sure, a few of them will be performing at or above what we expect, but this is not standard. If they aren't above average, which we now consider average... if they aren't ready to sit and listen for extended periods of time... if they aren't reading and writing neatly by the time they enter their mid semester of Kindergarten, they are labeled or put on a watch list. Infant-7 years, need a good sensory diet, and time to develop fine and gross motor skills. Older children, up through the teen years may also have sensory needs, that if addressed, could give them the tools they need to succeed.
Over the years, more and more children have been diagnosed with all types of sensory disorders and more and more children are somewhere on the spectrum... the Autism spectrum, that is. So, with all of this knowledge, and more (I just don't want to bore anyone), my goal/dream/passion is to provide parents with support, information, and a place they can bring their children for play, and therapy/IEP practice.
Because this is my passion, you would think I would have seen these needs in my own child. I've already discussed the fact that we were having him tested for Aspergers and anxiety disorders. Well, the tests came back and they show Aspergers. I didn't like hearing my suspicions confirmed. I mean, I took him in for a reason, but honestly thought I was simply overreacting to a hormonal teen boys obnoxious behavior. He doesn't look at people when he talks to them, he doesn't like to talk to them, he doesn't expand an answer when asked a question, he has strange (slight) ticks when attention is focused on him, he doesn't have an imagination, he's so black and white... literal. He can joke around, but others often don't get it, and the child expresses no excitement over things that are so freakin' exciting.
After the diagnosis, I've been watching him. I now, truly see his struggle when it comes to ordering his own food at a restaurant, or when he is addressed by others while we're out and about. WHY then, did I not see this before? We went to Starbucks the other day (the one in our grocery store). I sent him over to check on some wraps I was having made at the deli counter. I really had to explain to this very intelligent boy, exactly where to go. He left and the woman in line with me asked, just flat out asked, if he had Aspergers. Really?!?! A complete stranger can see it ( she said because her daughter has it), yet I couldn't. Even though I've struggled with him for years over his shyness, and inability to just go hang out with friends.
Hence, my dilemma, because it's causing guilt. Had I known, I could have handled things differently with him. He wouldn't be struggling as much had I known when he was small. Or would he? I don't know. I mean, he is still a hormonal teenage boy. I would have at least made sure he had every tool available to him. It turns out he loves deep pressure... I had no idea. I had a bunch of stuff laid out that I was taking to my presentation on sensory diets, and he started playing with one of the props. He loved it. :::Shaking my head:::