As a single mother, I had to start working again very early after my son was born. It was not clear to me then, that my child has autism. He did not have a diagnosis back then. In retrospect, I can judge many difficult situations differently and say that autism in preschool and kindergarten is an incredibly difficult challenge that almost broke my heart and feelings.
I always tried not to leave my child with a stranger. And I am grateful that I was able to have my parents take care of my child, when I was working as a nurse.
Everything alright from the beginning?
Then came his third birthday and I was able to give my son into daycare.
The acclimatization in daycare went actually very well. One of my sonss typical behaviors until today is that he clearly separates himself, if his environment has changed. When he gets home, he is at home. No unnecessary thoughts or talks about school or anything else. When he’s on vacation with hid Dad, he does not call me. This is just the way he is.
It was the same in dacare, preschool and later kindergarten. When he arrived there, he accepted this without protest. That was part of his clear daily routine.
It was not clear to him at which time I would pick him up.
Read on here how to structure the day for children with autism.
Each day started the same for him. After he had arrived, he sat down first on the carpet and played with his beloved vehicles. They would be sorted by him in color and size.
Clarity on routines and structures means the world for children with autism
How routines can be established – read on here.
Life in daycare and preschool was pretty well organized. There were only 24 in the complete facility, spread in many groups. So, the first two years went very well.
The situation gets fuzzy and difficult
After a while, however, the challenges got bigger. I received more and more comments from the teachers such as: “Today, he had once again a hard time to to play with the others.” or: “He was once again really in his ownworld dealing with his stuff.” At that time I was not aware of what this meant exactly.
Shortly before tmy son turned five, I got married for a second time and then moved away. This also meant a change of kindergarten for my son. In this, he got an experienced teacher who was just before retirement. She had a lot of patience and serenity.
My son liked the new place as well. But the place was way bigger than the other one. More then 100 children in total. He had to absorb much more, the situation in the group and with the teachers was much more complex than in the other school.
He quickly became the expert in interprating date and time. The first activity in the morning was setting the play clock with the proper time and date. The supervising teacher often greeted him with: “I have waited for you, otherwise I would not know what day day is today!” That was the door opener for a good day at kindergarten.
As long as “his” kindergarten teacher was close by, he was fine. Of course, that was not always the case. There were more and more difficult situations that alarmed me.
Once I came tp pick him up. All the kids were playing outside but my son was not there. I found him inside, sitting on the bench crying. He could not explain what had happened. Ateacher (not “his”teacher) approached me. “Your son took the vehicle from another child! He lied to me and was unable to apologize.”
After talking about it, the situation was clear: The other child set the play car aside while he went to the bathroom. My son pragmatically assumed that the vehicle was no more occupied and free to play with. My son was right.
The teacher accused him of a lie.
My son did not buy into it. He had done nothing wrong! According to his perception, the whole thing went like this: the vehicle was not occupied anymore; I took the free vehicle; I did not lie, so for what am I supposed to apologize? For him, the consequence that he had to sit on the bench was totally unfair to him.
My mother-heart has hurt badly!
Many times there have been misunderstandings, and tey got more and more over time. My educational style was being questioned. By myself and by others.
The experienced teacher did support me though. I always had the feeling, that my son was special to her.
So many questions…
But then came the year of kindergarten. In the beginning my son was excited, but this excitment vanished very quickly.
Although he was very talkative before, he did not get out the slightest tweak. The sensual overwhelmed he received was oo big and he did not feel safe and accepted. Only when he was very enthusiastic about a topic, he could shine with his incredible knowledge.
This was the time when the topic of high sensitvitiy and highly intellectually gifted came up
When I explained the fact that my six-year-old son can even read single words at home, that he knows the time, that he can count well beyond 20, the explanation was obvious: namely that he was in kindergarten but was under-challenged and therefore not participate in the preschool group.
Read on here from the experiences of a teacher with autism in school.
All the sudden, the proposition was made to enlist him in a primary school in the middle of the year. To meit was clear, that this wasn’t the right option.
Looking back, this development is in the age of 5 and 6 is very typical for children with aspergers autism. There are usually the social abnormalities to light. Previously, children are often allowed a higher tolerance in social behavior.
But shortly before going to primary school, all kids get tested. And this is typically the time they do fall out of the roster of the neurotypical classates.
What I have learned from “Being-Different”
The children often realize for themselves that they are different from the others. And of course the environment also notices it. They behave differently than expected.
As a mother, I was overwhelmed with my desperation and my doubts. Today I know there weren’t many things I could have done different.
That’s why I want to encourage you: Children with autism are different and different, indeed. But different is not worse It is just different. What would have been if I had known about the diagnosis at that time? Certainly a lot. I would have tackled the situation “autism in kindergarten” in another way. Unfortunately, I did not know it and my environment did not recognize it as well.
Do trust your feelings and your intuition! Do always fight for what is right – your child! You are the best advocate your child can have!