Autism and Kindergarten

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Q&A Session 4 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program

Topic: Autism and Kindergarten

Q: Hello Bryn!!!
Because Paul is doing so well, we decided to start him in Kindergarten on a part-time basis: one hour, three times a week. To even be saying those words is so incredible! The teacher is fantasic…VERY loving and caring, really into the kids, and has the best behaved kids in the school. She says he is ready to come longer. What can I look for, when I observe him in the class, to know he is indeed ready? When I pick Paul up after school, he is totally connected and motivated. When I talk to the teacher about how the hour went, Paul will go up to other kids in the hallway (that he doesn’t even know) and talk to them about the work they are doing or his loose tooth. We are doing 45-50 hours a week in the playroom with Paul and would continue to do so.

Paul has moved so quickly this past 8 months. I must say, so have I. Probably no coincidence, huh? Everyday there is growth. I love waking up in the morning to see “what presents are under the tree”!!!

Lots of love,
Lisa S.

A: Dear Lisa,
This was so exciting, and inspiring for me to read. I know very well how far you both have come in such a very short time. I want to celebrate you: You have explored yourself; you have dared to look at your “less than shiny” parts and have embraced them, you have grown, blossomed and changed yourself so that you could best help Paul – and what a “Force of Nature” you have become! I celebrate you and all you have done!

What to look for at Kindergarten? (How special, wonderful and amazing that we are even having this discussion!)

When the teacher asks all the children to come to an area of the classroom, or sit in a circle, does she have to call him more often? Is he slow to come, or does he come right away? Does he seem to be listening to the instructions and following them, or does he watch what the other children do, (possibly not listening to the words of the teacher) and then follow the children? If, for example, you find he is slow to follow instructions, then I would spend time in the program at home playing games and doing exercises to help him with this skill, so he can “practice” (i.e. Paul, we’re going to play this great game! You pick a card, and read the instruction – and I have to follow them within 10 seconds! If I do, I get five points! Ok, now your turn, I’ll read instructions and YOU follow them….etc) In this way, making it fun, but also really working on this as a skill for him to have for school.

Verbally how is he? Does he talk more or less than when at home? Is he louder than the other children, or is he using a “natural” voice – again, use your observation to work on these at home.

Does he raise his hand and try to participate, or does he always have to be asked?

If they have unstructured, or “free-play” – how does he do? For example, we noticed with our daughter, Jade, if there is “free play” at her play group, she will go where the other children are, take a baby like the other children do – and then stand and watch them play, vs. participate, or ask to participate – so we work on this at home. See how Paul does – can he initiate play with others, or not? If not, help him learn what games he can suggest and how? Does he answer children when they talk to him? Watch his social interaction in general and see what you can note.

How is his attention span? Does he leave group activities, or can he stay and be a part of it until it is finished? Does he rush activities – i.e. Is his “pacing” faster, or slower than other children in the group?

Taking a turn – when he is “called on”, does he respond or ignore the request? Does he seem to have trouble with this in any way? If so, how?

Physically: is he okay being touched by other children? Touching them? Is he too rough? Is he tentative?

Whatever area you find he needs help with, again, create circumstances at home to work these out – and explain to him the benefits of having these skills: “Paul, if you can take turns, like all the other “big boys” at school, then the other children will probably find it really fun to play with you more” etc. Be honest and direct with him and let him know, “If you don’t answer a question, the person might think you don’t want to play with them”. Help him to learn how to be with other children and also, how he could act that would make him most attractive to others. Oh Lisa! This is so exciting! Please do let me know how it goes, this is a very, very exciting time – have fun with it!

With love,
Bryn

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