Hi Everyone, My son is turning 3, and is diagnosed mild autism, high functioning. His testing at the public school he will be attending in September said he is overall on the average range. However, they are suggesting only 60 mins inclusion time a day, with the other 5 hours being in self contained. I was surprised by this, and want to ask for more...but I am not sure if I am right in doing so. Any feelings on self contained vs inclusion? What worked for your kids? Thanks!!!
Usually inclusion programs are shorter days and self contained are longer. You sound like you are getting the best of both worlds with 60 minutes of typical peer time and then the rest of the time to be in a more appropriate learning environment. However, what matters most is the program... And the teacher. How is the teacher? How large is the class? How many children in that class have autism? Does the class have aides and how many? Does the IEP have a 1:1 aide listed for you child? What does a typical look like? Are they using an ABA model for the class? How many times a week will your child receive speech, OT, and PT and is it individual or group? These are the most important questions... It's not about self contained vs. inclusion; it is about the overall program. Is there a BCBA on the education team overseeing the program? Each child is very different, and what is good for one may not be for the other. It really depends on the school system and what you advocate for in the IEP meeting and how it is implemented. What did the child study team was their rationale for self contained when you expressed your concern? Both preschool classes fall under the disabled preschool, so if you and the team figured out he was doing better in the inclusion room, you can alway request the child being moved by initiating another IEP meeting. My son just started preschool in February when he turned 3, and for us, it is too early to tell where he falls on spectrum, we just know that it is not severe. Or doctors do not make that distinction until the child is older.
Our son spent two years in a secluded preschool with very little progress. He is now going to an inclusive preschool. Inclusive preschool is not for every child, it's a IEP team decision. The decision should be determined by the IEP team, parents, and professionals that know your child. If your child has a high degree of sensory issues, and it's his/her first experience it may be best option that he is eased into the inclusive setting. I would make it clear, that his programming is on-going, meaning you can call a meeting at any time to modify or change the programming as needed. If you take anything away from this, remember you can call a meeting at anytime. Ask for clarification and ask for trial periods to give options a chance. If you haven't already, begin a log or datebook for your son, writing daily what happening in home, school, and community. Frequently reassess and reflect on the entries to determine growth or identify problem areas. You will be your son's best advocate! And don't be afraid to ask questions.
I know New Jersey is less likely to push for inclusion/mainstreaming than Pennsylvania is. I would push the district on what they think he will benefit from in self contained vs. inclusion and if that's his least restrictive environment. I was happy with self contained for the first year (which he's finishing out now) but as he progressed and became spontaneously verbal, I felt more that he would benefit from peer modeling. For this year he really needed the small class size and structure that's only available in the self contained class, but I don't think he needs it anymore. Don't be shy to ask about ALL the options--I would never have gotten an inclusion model class if I hadn't asked for it. I am really sorry inclusion/co teaching models are harder to find in my area as I think they can be a great option for these kids, who still need the experience of a specially trained teacher but are able to learn from peers. At 3, they're really not learning much academically--social modeling and language is the essence of preschool for these kids. The keys for me were whether or not he'd be able to handle peers without explosive behaviors or meltdowns.
My son is 10 and he is in inclusion for his specials, gym, music, art, computers, ect. The rest of the day he is in his ESD room or the special needs room with the teacher and an aid. There are five students in this class and he loves it because he gets a lot of attention. We don't worry about social interaction because he has been with his same friends since he has been in school and he is comfortable. My son is HFA and very smart but his comprehension is an issue and he is behind his peers.
My son is friendly with other children so I think it is more important for him to learn more and be comfortable than to be in the main classroom all day. I honestly think that people make to much of ASD children being with the NT children because they need the social interaction. While I believe it is important to be social, I think it is far more important to have your child learn to the best of their ability while they can, and if that means being in a special class so they get more attention from the teach then that is the best way to go. As I always say the clock is ticking so the earlier you start getting them help and the more help you get them the better.
This is the exact opposite of my experience here - but preschool is a little iffy, I think, because what is available varies so much. He had his first year in self contained (he turned 3 in September so he gets 3 years in the preschool program) and for his second year they wanted me to send him to a regular private preschool. (I refused because it seemed like they were trying to get him off their tab--I asked about an inclusion class and got the placement)
In our schools the self contained classes are predominantly kids with significant verbal delays and so kids who are making a lot of progress verbally are pushed to go into a class with typically developing peers to act as models. If he is verbal and does not have major behavioral issues I would push for more inclusion.
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