When it comes to special needs, there seems to be two schools of parenting: one that aims to understand and accept and another that seeks to change or cure. My philosophy tends to align with the former. I'm done with laying blame. I'm done with reading up on the latest possible cause or the hottest new "remedy" for autism. Sorry, Jenny McCarthy. My son's not broken. As far as I'm concerned, he just has a different way of seeing and dealing with the world.
So it follows that he has a different approach to learning, too. School has been a problem, since I'm discovering that inclusion tends to mean throwing a child into a regular classroom, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. Needless to say, public school patently isn't working out for my kindergartner who's been told on one hand that he's too advanced for a diagnostic class, while on the other, clearly being too distressed to cope in a mainstream class.
Remember the days when some children were struck with rulers and metre sticks in school for writing with the "wrong" hand? Well, to my mind, autism is akin to being left-handed—which my son also is, coincidentally—in a world dominated by those who favour the right. It's a difference, not a deficit or a sign of demonic possession (though, admittedly, during a meltdown it can look that way).
So where does he belong? Where can he truly thrive? There is no straightforward, cookie-cutter answer. For now, I'm waiting on assessments to help determine the best possible placement. In the meantime I've been homeschooling for part of the day, and sending him to a special private school, hoping to strike some kind of happy balance that will cater to his individual needs.
Even Autistics who are verbal don't totally speak our language. So any time a rare and willing translator appears, I get excited. This is basically what happened when I came across the Asperger Experts via Asperger's Society of Ontario.
The "experts" in this case knows of what they speak. As kids, Danny Raede and Hayden Mears were both diagnosed with my son's type of autism—Asperger's Syndrome—and have experienced the gamut: bullying, therapies, etc. So more than anyone, they know how best to reach kids and really get through to them. They're the equivalent of autism whisperers, if you will. I've included a taster below, but more great videos can be found here.
Rather than cracking the stick, impressing my way of thinking on him and expecting him to meekly conform, here I am, sitting down at the desk. I've got my pen and notebook in hand, ready to learn a wonderful new language.