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Developmental Preschool
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Developmental Preschool

My son is 3 1/2 and I think he might have Aspergers Syndrome. He is on a waiting list to see a neurodevelopmental specialist and is currently going to a speech/language therapist and occupational therapist once a week. Do you think that developmental preschool would help him out? I guess I'm a little hesitant to send him. He is very impressionable. I'm afraid he might pick up bad habits from other kids or maybe it might affect him somehow negitively. He is a very smart little boy, but he is behind socially for his age and he has a very intense interest in numbers. What else can I do to help him out?
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This is always a difficult one because on the one hand you are trying to find a peer group that your son can socialise with and feel comfortable with, but on the other hand you want them in a peer group with a similar level of cognitive ability.
I would say go and have a look at a number of different pre-schools to see what the peer group is like.  It also depends on what your son's strengths and abilities are as well as his weaknesses.  
It is more typical for children with Aspergers to be able to go to a mainstream school.  But that being said they do usually struggle in any school that is not highly structured and also with the social side of things.  Also having a diagnosis of Aspergers can make it harder for your child to get supports because they are considered so able.
Is it possible to go to a mixture of pre-schools eg. two days developmental and two days mainstream?
Regarding picking up bad habits.  Again see what the peer group is like.  There may be no behavioural issues there at all.  You also have to remember that these children tend not to learn from other people.  If they did then they wouldn't be autistic because they would see people interacting and they would pick it up and understand it, but they don't.  Positive role models are good, but so is being in a group of children that he feels comfortable with.  
My son is High Functioning Autistic and is very self aware and I too was concerned about whether he would realise what his peers were like.  He is in a mainstream school, but one that has extra resources for those on the spectrum.  There are children on the spectrum in each classroom, but the class my son is in is for those that are also struggling academically.  There are 18 children in his class with 1 teacher and 3 TAs.  There are 6 children on the spectrum in this class.  My son's cognitive ability if assessed as being high average, but he is also showing signs of dyslexia and dyscalculia.  He is doing much better here than his other school.  But they are having to support him alot during playtime and breaktimes with things like dinnertime clubs and at playtime he has to choose what he wants to do and with whom, otherwise he would walk around the playground repeating film dialogue to himself.  But he still gets hurt by things that the other children say.  He doesn't understand alot of the social language and if a child rejects him he thinks it is for life and not just for that breaktime!
I would recommend that you always try to place him somewhere where there are other children with a similar diagnosis and where staff have experience and expertise of aspergers and autism.  For example he will need a highly structured daily routine - see which pre-school can offer that.
From a 'supports in school' point of view, I would also look to his SALT to see whether he has any speech disorder or delay.  Ask her if she thinks he has Semantic Pragmatic Disorder.  Have a look at it yourself.  This is a Speech Disorder that most children on the spectrum have.  It plays a huge part in their understanding of language and their ability to hold conversations etc.  If he has this disorder it is for life.  So a SALT should be involved throughout his schooling to support this and address Social Communiction and Interaction Skills.  Otherwise SALT support tends to finish in primary school.  That pretty much leaves the child to fend for himself in secondary school, which is just the stage when he is going to find it most difficult to socialise with other children.
I know that you are dealing with pre-school now.  But as soon as you sort that out, start looking for the school you want him to attend.  Again look at where the experience of aspergers is.  Get in touch with a local support group and find out where their children are going.  Get in touch with your education department and ask them about schools in your surrounding area that have experience of pupils on the autistic spectrum.  There tends to be only a few places available in any school that has experience of aspergers.  My son is nearly 8 and it has taken until now (and taking the local education authority to court) to get him into a school with this type of experience.
i sent my son to preschool, i wish i would have worked with him at home
i think its nuts to send our children away at such a young age, but i did it
both my children went to christian preschool;
i have choosen to work with my son at home, but it was a complete lifestyle change, homeschool leaves little room for self
but being a room mom for a public school special ed. class gave me the chance to see what peer learning really means
ot teachers are great, however it is not difficult to learn their job and work with your child
my son does much better with me than he did with his therapist
you can google the social benifits of homeschooling aspie kids
there are several articles out that can describe what i am trying to say, i have a little one by my side being very distracting
If you are nervous about sending him to preschool, contact the public school system.  I was given an option of either sending my daughter to preschool twice per week or having someone come to our house once per week.  Actually I finagled it so that she goes to preschool twice per week and the special ed teacher and/or one of the school therapists comes to our house once per month.  I chose the preschool because we recently moved and we picked a house that had a great special ed program.  The schools are good, not the top top in the area, but we lucked out in being able to choose an area.  If we were at our old house, I would have had the therapist come to the house.  depending on your state and local area school system, sometimes them coming to the house or you going to a therapist's office or going to the school with your child is a free option instead of developmental preschool.  The other thing is that although my daughter goes to developmental preschool and has the teacher come out once per month, I also pay privately for a therapist to come to our house twice per month.  I also make sure to get weekly reports and talk often or email with her preschool teacher.  That way I know what they are doing in school, what to try at home, etc.  If the teachers aren't good enough to follow through with the parents, everything the kids learn at school, there won't be enough follow through at home.  

I really love the developmental preschool my daughter goes to.  I have been repeatedly told by the birth to 3 therapists and by our current private therapist that the town we live in has one of the best special education programs and teachers in the county. We were also told that before we moved.  So, check in to what it is like where you live.  You may have a great system and not know it.  And check out what other options they offer.  It doesn't hurt to inquire.  Oh, and the public school system is required to give you a free assessment to see if your son qualifies.  You are not required to choose to send him there after they do it.  You could even go to the IEP meeting (individual education plan) and then turn down everything.  At least you could get an assessment of where they feel your son is at.  It might help you if you wish to go privately or do things at home.  
Oh, the other thing is that my daughter only goes twice per week to preschool.  She is also emotionally mature enough to want to be gone from home.  2 days seems like a good time.  It's for 2 1/2 hours.  She even takes the bus to school and back home.  She runs to the bus in the morning with a big smile on her face, says "good bye mommy" to me with a smile and is so excited.  She comes home smiling as well.  She is with other kids who are language delayed or have social communication delays.  She was diagnosed with PDD, but the doctor felt she has PDD-NOS, not typical autism.  For her, her language abilities and self-help skills are very far behind (she still can't drink from a cup unless she has a straw or feed herself without help).  But since she started preschool a month and  a half ago, she has started talking more, is socializing more, is imitating more, and is letting go of some of her rigid behavior.  She actually is now doing puzzles out of order.  she can do 30 to 40 piece puzzles, which is pretty impressive for her age (most 3 year olds are doing 6 piece puzzles).  But she'd do them in order from top to bottom, left to right, like you would read a book.  If you tried to make her do them out of order, she would freak out.  She is now doing them "out of order" as she just picks up pieces.  evidently, this is common behavior for kids on the spectrum.  The teacher knew some tricks that I or the birth to 3 therapists did not know.  They didn't force her to do it that way.  They didn't make her have a meltdown (they avoid meltdowns).  They have also been doing a lot of sensory activities and sensory therapy right before activities she might have more difficulty with being rigid on.  She is also starting to learn how to drink out of a cup.  Evidently they say for her it might be a sensory related thing as well as a motor skill.

Aside from school, though, there are lots  of ways to get your child to learn things.  Private therapist working with you.  Lots of opportunities to socialize may include having playdates at your house (if he's used to the same kids, he might socialize more).  Going to the park in warmer weather (we've been going to McDonalds that has a play area, though we are cheap and buy one small soda that costs $1 so they can't say we aren't paying customers).  Local YMCAs or community centers may have classes.  YMCAs are really good with kids with special needs.  If you explain, they may be able to recommend a class your son could join.  I know a lot of things like YMCA and private therapists take money.  I don't know if you could look into financial assistance.  I know YMCAs will offer reduced fees based on your income level.  We no longer qualify for that, but we used to several years ago (and yes I took advantage of it).  

Anyways, finding out what is out there, even if you decide not to do it, or are not able to... well, finding out what is available is sometimes the harder part, or at least the more time consuming.  I found a mothers group in my town.  It's a newcomers group but they are usually open to people who also have lived in the town for several years.  There is also a mom's group called MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) which is religious based, though not of any particular denomination and you don't have to go to a church at all to join.  They usually meet twice per month and have childcare where the kids can interact with other kids.  Although I don't currently do MOPS, I used to.  My daughter had some issues when she was 2, and I eventually had to request they put her in with the next age level down since she at that age didn't understand anything spoken to her, including her name.  She did wonderfully in the other group.  MOPS usually likes to work with moms as well, with if you have issues about your child while they are being watched by other adults during the MOPS meetings.  I can't vouch for all MOPS groups, but mine was wonderful.  I would go again here except it meets on a day my daughter has preschool.  

I guess the other reason i like to do playgroups and moms groups is that I get to supervise my daughter interacting with other kids. At this point I try to let her go on her own and resolve conflicts on her own, stepping in only when needed.  At first, I had to hover over her to help her interact with some of the kids.  Once she got to know them I could stop hovering and just let her be.  it also took me sitting there on the floor with her and the kids and showing her how to interact.  This is where having a private therapist might help you out with your son.  You might even get a private therapist to go to the play group with you.  When my daughter was in the birth to 3 program, the developmental therapist came to the MOPS group and for an hour was in the childcare room with my daughter helping her to interact with the other kids.  She also came to a couple play groups at my house to help my daughter interact.  And I watched her, so I could learn how to do some of the things she was doing.  

Anyways, I know I've said a lot in two responses.... but don't feel that you are alone out there.  There are opporutnities, it's just a matter of finding them out.
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