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Autism: From the outside looking in.

Is My Autistic Child A Burden?

This is the question that I have for our local school system.

I had the worst time enrolling Julian into Exceptional Children pre-Kindergarten(EC Pre-K). The original director of Pre-K was retiring, so she had to be replaced. I really loved the original director because she was one, of a couple of people, who was really instrumental in expediting the enrollment process for Joshua.

I initially began the process of enrolling Julian into the public school system in the Spring of 2019. Naturally, he was referred for EC Pre-K. I did the usual paperwork, plus some. Do you understand how tired I am of filling out ABAS-3 booklets?!

I didn’t hear anything back after a few weeks, so I made some phone calls and sent a few emails. Then, I made some more phone calls and sent more emails. I made even more calls and sent even more emails.

I felt like I was getting the run around. Before I knew it, Joshua was getting on the bus for his second term of EC Pre-K. It was September. Julian was still not in school, and there was still no movement with his paperwork.

I talk to Joshua’s teacher on a regular basis. She is a gem. Before we hang up, she always tells me, “Let me know if you need anything.”.

I ended up confiding in Joshua’s teacher about Julian’s situation. She assured me that she would find out what was going on. That, she did. In a matter of weeks, Julian’s evaluations and meetings began, and he was in school by February. Because of capacity limits, Julian was sent to a different school from Joshua. However, they were going to be riding the same bus.

On his first day, I woke Julian a little bit earlier than I usually wake Joshua. Julian is a fighter, and he doesn’t realize that he’s going somewhere until his shoes are being put on. Joshua is pretty used to the routine, but we still have some bad mornings.

Julian and Joshua both never go to sleep until at least an hour after scheduled bedtime. They share a room, which is secured with a child safety doorknob. If I don’t keep their door closed at night, they will roam around the house. They both know how to unlock and open the main door of the house, so I do this for my piece of mind.

Julian and Joshua’s bus ride to school is a lengthy one, so I have one of my older girls prepare half of a granola bar and a half cup of milk for their breakfast. The boys receive a full breakfast once they get to school.

When the bus arrived, Julian was hesitant to get on. This was for two reasons: This was a new experience for Julian, and he usually doesn’t like to climb up or down steps.

My fifth child was out of the house. Cue the pitter patter of tiny feet. Jessica wanted me to turn on Doc McStuffins. “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”

I went about my normal routine. At around 11:30, I noticed a flood of missed calls on my phone. Donnie’s routine lunchtime call was coming through before I was able to figure out who the phone number belonged to.

Donnie received the same phone calls. He told me that they were from Julian’s teacher. She wanted to let us know that she was sending Julian home on the 12pm bus. Julian was having a bad day.

When Julian arrived home, I immediately checked his book bag. I found a note from his teacher, saying that she wanted to have a phone conference. I also noted that Julian received a red mark in his agenda. Why is there a color system for behavior in EC Pre-K?

I called Julian’s teacher the next morning. She detailed the behaviors that Julian displayed at school the day before. Apparently, he was crying a lot, he was eating out of the trash can instead of eating his regular meals, and he wouldn’t walk with the rest of the class. His teacher emphasized that she could not carry Julian around because she had to tend to the other students as well.

These behaviors that she was describing were not foreign to me. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t have been foreign to the teacher either. I literally wrote her a synopsis of Julian’s personality and behaviors, months before he started school.

The second and third days of school were no better. Julian’s teacher told me that she was going to cut his school days in half so that he could get used to school. I reluctantly agreed. The fourth and fifth days were no better. Julian’s school days were cut even further to three days a week.

Everyday was a new was a new complaint about his behavior. Everyday revealed a red color on his agenda. There was another phone conference. Julian’s teacher told me that he needed one-on-one education, and that “the county doesn’t provide that”.

I was really starting to feel like my child is a burden to the school system. Does his behavior offend you that bad? Does Julian being himself offend you that bad? This just affirms why I barely have a social life. Maybe I’m better off homeschooling my baby.

Unfortunately, I live in a county that doesn’t have much money or resources. My family lives in this county because the cost of living suits our budget. Why does my child have to be given scraps? Our governments will find money when it’s convenient for them, but my autistic child can’t receive better supports because we live in a “poor” county?

There was one day that Julian received a purple color. Finally! I was so happy to see that! It turned out that he wasn’t feeling well that day. He didn’t do anything but lie down all day.

It turns out that Julian had the flu. He got sicker by the day. I held him out of school for over two weeks. Not once did his teacher call to check in. Now, I’m not saying that teachers are obligated to make house calls. However, if your student was missing from school for more than two weeks, wouldn’t you be the least bit curious?

Maybe Julian is too much like Julian. Maybe my son’s unwillingness to adapt annoys you. Is that why my autistic son a burden to you?

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By Antonia Harris

A stay-at-home mom & dedicated wife on a path to find a purpose.

One reply on “Is My Autistic Child A Burden?”

That teacher shouldn’t be surprised that Julian acts the way he does. He’s an autistic child. Obviously, she needs help in the classroom. You are so right about the government! There is no middle class anymore! There is only the poor and the rich! The government makes sure that the poor keeps getting poorer and the rich keeps getting richer! You’re an awesome writer Antonia!

Liked by 1 person

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