A lot has changed for me this year. I am going to school and have less time with home therapists. I thought it would be easier than it has been and I am not as included as I thought I would be. I have a great aide and the school has provided amazing resources, but I am too different to fit in anywhere it seems. Special ed is too easy, but general ed is too social for my sensory system to handle on most days. It doesn’t seem there is a middle ground and it’s unfortunate. I am not retaining much information because my sensory system is screaming at me to run out and never come back.
This has been a learning experience and I am glad I have done it, regardless of how much sleep I have lost thinking about it. My idea of inclusion is a lot different than the school’s. I think the best way to include people like me is in the same building, but in a classroom of our own. We can follow the general ed curriculum without the added stress of what feels like hundreds of voices screaming at once, when to neurotypicals it is just whispering. Quieting the other students will not help. It is not their fault and it will be too much for me no matter what the volume is because it is simply too many people in one place. My team and family, especially my mom and Taylor, have been so optimistic about my ability to thrive and be happy at school with some adjustments. I know that that is just exhausting a lost cause that I am fine with and have accepted as an amazing lesson learned. I will keep trying because I always do, but I think the system of inclusion in general aims to put people in typical boxes that we don’t belong in or want. Autistics everywhere need to come together and create our own boxes. We shouldn’t have to fit in the typical box unless we choose to. I know who I am and what my skills are and no one should decide that for me.
Love your idea for inclusive environment. Makes a lot more sense then forcing you into an uncomfortable place. Perhaps the teachers and administration can learn from your idea. hang in there, am extremely proud of you.
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That’s a wonderful idea, Mitchell!
Mitchell, I’m glad you can communicate so effectively now to advocate for what you need. I hope and believe that your school will continue to work with you to make adjustments for the right mix of intellectual challenge and peaceful environment.
I read about you in the newspaper recently and really enjoyed the article. I teach high school and have had several students with autism in the classroom. Each one was unique and talented in different ways. I really like your idea of having access to the same curriculum but being in an environment that is better for you. Sometimes the classroom environment is a lot for me as an introvert so I can only imagine how overwhelming it can be for students with autism! I hope your idea is heard and acted on!!
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I am an Occupational Therapy Practitioner in the school system and I so agree with you. Schools need to offer another option and I have often said EXACTLY what you said! Thank you for sharing this.
I work in the school system and would love to have the type of classroom you describe available. Do you think the sensory demands of learning would be smaller if you were to watch a video stream of the class live or recorded in a calmer environment? Or would the noise still be overwhelming? I think setting up streaming of classes is something that I would be able to convince the school to try faster than setting up a new class. I work with students in elementary school who have complex communication needs and need specific things from their sensory environment, but most are not autistic. Because of their physical needs, they are all in the same class for K-5. How does watching things on video change the way the sensory input is received by your brain?
It really depends on the student. Every person with autism is a little different just like neurotypical people. Video is easier but I prefer working with my peers.