Saturday, March 6, 2010

ASDs and 504s and IEPs, oh my!

This is my 6 1/2 year old son, Connor. The photo was taken on Christmas morning 2009. The kids had opened all of their presents and were starting to play with their toys. In the photo, Connor is stimming. It's what he does when he becomes anxious or overly excited or overstimulated. I didn't intentionally try to capture him stimming. I took the photo because he's playing with one of Dylan's gifts. I also took a picture of Dylan playing with one of Addi's gifts, and one of Addi playing with one of Connor's gifts. I liked that they were all playing with each other's brand new Christmas presents, and no one was screaming or snatching toys out of hands, yelling, "That's mine!"

Connor has been on my mind a lot lately. Something is going on with him, and I don't know what it is. His meltdowns are becoming more frequent. His teacher has noticed him stimming more at school. He has been increasingly inflexible at home, more demanding when he can't have his way about something. I feel like if I just knew what it is, I could fix it. But maybe there's nothing to fix. Maybe there's no one big thing that has triggered his behavior. Maybe this is just life with Aspergers.

When he had a psycho-educational evaluation last March to see if he qualified for special services, he was doing extremely well. Academically, he's never had any difficulties, so it wasn't surprising that he was a little above grade level. He seemed to be getting the sensory stimulation he needed from the Montessori environment itself. His visits with Dr. Lesley had paid off in that his social skills were improving. He had even started playing with the other children sometimes. It was no wonder that he didn't qualify. So he was given a 504 plan instead of an IEP, just a few accomodations that he needed in the classroom: lined paper, fat pencils, that sort of thing.

He's not doing as well now. He tells me that he feels weird. Other kids want to know why he "does that" with his hands, and he wants to keep it a secret that he has Aspergers. He refuses to do 15 minutes a day of writing because he says his hand gets tired. Yet he draws all afternoon long. He comes home and screams at Dylan because Dylan doesn't want to play World 4-5 on Super Mario Brothers eight times in a row. Now, in addition to his hand stimming, he stims vocally, making these noises that remind me of street rappers. One of the parents in his class heard him and made the comment that Connor was "be-bopping" and that maybe he'll be famous one day. I faked a smile.

At that meeting last March, Connor had not yet been diagnosed with Aspergers. That would not come until two months later, during the last week of school. His diagnosis at the meeting in March was still PDD-NOS. After he was diagnosed with Aspergers, the Hall Institute recommended he have an IEP. I didn't push it, as he seemed to be doing okay with just the 504. Now, I think I need to ask to have him re-evaluated. I'm not sure if I can do that, but I really think he needs more than the 504 can provide him with. He needs OT. He needs a quiet place to go when things get to be too much for him.

Not for the first time, I want to pull him out of school and keep him from having to deal with being different, but I know he can't live in a bubble for the rest of his life. I've had parents of severely autistic children tell me (in online forums) that I'm lucky my kid can communicate, lucky he can tell me he loves me, lucky he's not locked away in his own world. Maybe I am. But is he? Is he any better off, being aware of the fact that he's different? Wanting to fit in and feeling like he never will?

No comments:

Post a Comment