(8% indicates focused excerpt location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.)
Focused Excerpts from the book –
4% My name is Elizabeth and I am an Autism Mom. Our son, who we call the Navigator, is nine and was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at the age of seven. Before his diagnosis, I had heard of Autism – non-verbal children who don’t like to be touched, who rocked, and who ritually lined things up.
7% There is no one thing or even series of things that work all the time, or are even discernible as a pattern. There is a need for constant analysis and creativity, which is exhausting and sometimes seemingly fruitless.
Because there is no cookie-cutter approach, I developed a website and blog in case our experiences could help others.
8% That website is Autism Mom and it includes blog articles, resources, tools and strategies. My hope is to offer other parents and loved ones of children with Autism valuable lessons learned and creative resources which they can use and tailor for themselves.
5% Then came a call from his first grade teacher: “I am not a doctor or psychologist, but I spent 15 years in Special Education, and I think your son may have Asperger’s.” As the American Psychiatric Association describes it, his “symptoms [were] not fully recognized until social demands exceed[ed] [his] capacity.”
6% After testing by both the school and privately, he was diagnosed to be high-functioning on the Autism spectrum. He receives special education services through the school.
14% Never on a School Day…strategies for managing screen time…
We took away screen time on school days last year. For about four weeks, he had been fighting me about going to school and I had to (gently) drag him down the stairs…
15% One day, I got him downstairs just fine, he put his shoes on, and then I had to go to the bathroom. When I got out, he had gone back upstairs and locked himself in his bedroom.
That was the last straw…
…he got 10-20 minutes screen time before school in the morning and 60-90 minutes after school every day. More on the weekend.
Something needed to change, and that something was the elimination of screen time on school days.
I engaged in “control and oversight of the screens.” The screen he most liked to use was my tablet…I deleted all of his games…so that it was not a temptation.
…we have only one TV in a central area which I can be aware of when it was used and I was happy to disconnect from the internet cable if I needed to.
< My Thoughts > “…elimination of screen time on school days.”
Elizabeth has a lot of support on this decision, not just for behavioral control, but for control in general over a child’s health and lifestyle. Hamilton, et al. (2016) say that there are a number of beliefs behind this decision for parents of all children. Parents they studied believed the “Health behaviors may track across time.” Therefore, parents should intervene early in a child’s life to reduce the risk of the child developing an irreversible sedentary lifestyle of long periods of screen watching, into adolescence. This sedentary lifestyle possibly leading to their unhealthy weight gain, or even obesity, as they grow into their adult years.
In agreement are Anderson, et al. (2008) who state that prolonged screen time of more than two hours per day, combined with low-levels of active play, can lead to unhealthy pediatric development. They suggest that the parent also require the child to participate in high-level activities each week, such as swimming, going to the gym, sports, or other athletics.
I would like to add that, as early as 4th or 5th grade, students in public school in our district are expected to spend close to an hour on the classroom teacher’s online website. During this time, they complete classroom assignments and prepare for the next day’s lesson. In Middle School and High School, the time the instructor (Instructors… because now they have up to seven instructors each day, each semester.) expect the student to spend online, increases. That alone will cut into the ‘free’ screen time a child would spend each day, it seems; if parents follow the suggested time allotment of two hours per day.
16% The third step was to be very clear with him as to what the new rules were – I developed visual checklist for school days and what he needed to do to get screen time on the weekend.
Fourth was to be very patient and loving as he “detoxed” from getting screen time before and after school.
39% As his Autistic behavior became more apparent in the structured setting of elementary school, he began recognizing his own “not fitting in” and feeling discomfort about it.
One of our saddest days was when he called himself “stupid” because he could not do his work in the classroom.
60% Wait, What? –
…I dutifully go to the school office and sign in and get a badge so I am an “official” visitor at the school.
…while I was signing in, my son walked into the office.
He was supposed to be in class, what was he doing in the office?
One of the assistants asked him why he was there. He explained that he had been misbehaving in class and the teacher had sent him to the office.
Wait, What? There is specific language in the IEP* that he is not to be sent out of the classroom for his behavior.
41% The “specials” teacher had sent him out of the classroom. Why isn’t the specials teacher following the IEP?
A couple of days later I got notice that an IEP meeting had been set, including the specials teacher.
42% Wait, What? Why were we having an IEP meeting?
The meeting came and I learned that the specials teacher had not been given notice of the relevant accommodations in the IEP related to my son.
…None of the specials teachers had been given that information.
Wait, What? How can they do their jobs if they don’t have the information they need?
43% The meeting went well as far as my son is concerned. The specials teacher now has the knowledge and tools needed to manage my son’s behavior in the classroom.
This meeting took place on the second to last day of Autism Awareness Month.
< My Thoughts > “None of the specials teachers had been given that information.” “Autism Awareness Month”
My motto (one of them) is never to assume anything! As parents and as teachers, immersed in the world of autism, we sometimes tend to ‘assume’ that everyone out there is as ‘consumed’ with the subject as we are. That ‘they’ are operating from the same knowledge base that we are. Not so! And, many people prefer not to think about anything that deviates from the ‘norm’, especially ‘autism’. Just saying.
80% Set up a preferred method of communication so the school can contact you. Setting up a preferred method puts the teacher-parent relationship on a ‘respectful footing’ for what works best for both.
44% *An IEP is an “Individual Education Plan” and it is the document that outlines what a school will do and won’t do to insure that a student with a disability receives appropriate educational opportunities.
73% Questions to Ask His Next Teacher –
…I am compiling a list of questions for that meeting.
When crafting questions, it is important to think about a) what my goal is, e.g., I want to know what I need to do to help with my son’s education; and b) not to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.
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