Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Monthly Archives: February 2010


As I’ve already mentioned, picking a daycare or pre-school for your ASD child can be made more difficult if you have already been through the process of selecting one for a neurotypical child.

The thing is, it seems like picking a “big school” – which in NSW a child should be enrolled in for Kindergarten during January or February if they will turn by the end of June – is even harder again.

Chances are you already assume that the school your elder children are going to won’t know how to handle a kid “on the spectrum”. Even though most of them seem to have kids with some amount of ritalin-controlled ADHD, and doctors tell us that ADHD is “one aspect of the spectrum”, aspies or “asd” kids don’t quite fit in!

And anyway, if you have any doubts that your aspie or asd child will be able to assert themself in a mainstream kindergarten…. well, you aren’t in a hurry to go there are you?

It’s traumatic enough for “normal kids”.

Thankfully in NSW at least a lot of information is on the internet. Somewhere. You just have to find it, of course! A lot of what is there can be found on the state governments’ schools website, specifically the supporting students section which includes Disability Programs and Behaviour programs. It seems these two programs do actually overlap: but past experience from children of friends shows that not every school is all that great at putting them into practice – such as schools who see time-outs as appropriate responses to kids on the spectrum who would like nothing more than to be put in a room by themself, with a shiny spinny toy, for the whole school term.

The problem is, “the department” expect you to “trust their experts”.

Here I am wanting to know: is my son right for Regular Classes, Support classes in regular schools, or will he need a special school?

So off goes an email to the relevant contact person(that’s email btw). All I can say is the response is “we’ll get back to you”.

I’m one myself, so I’ll give the public servants a bit of a break. I told them already that I won’t let them take too long. I’m not happy to leave it all in the laps of a faceless “regional placement panel”. If a website can say “Placement subject to regional placement panel procedures”, then why can’t they show us the procedures?

Give me the procedures, and I’ll get off your back. Even if the procedure is “the worst x kids go to ABC school, the next y kids go to DEF school, and the rest take their chances….” – then just tell me.

I even had one admin lady (yes I guess she’s an overworked, non-specialised) in one of the schools we’re looking at say “oh, your pre-school will sort all that out”. How much will that help me when I go to enroll BTB Fan in Kindergarten in October and they’ve never heard of him??

Reproduced from the now-closed autism united ning website


The path till now… Diagnosis & pre-school placement

As everyone knows, learning something once is easy.

With this in mind, for Mrs Wesite & I learning how to pick a daycare centre was easy. A bit later, we simply repeated what we had done for Princess P and sent Guitar Hero Addict (before Guitar Hero had even been invented) AND his sister to a different daycare. That one didn’t turn out so well, but what we had already learned told us to pull the pin.

Not long later we went through the joy of, selecting a school for Princess P. Which in our area of Western Sydney, was a “bit of a challenge”. But we got there.

The following year we learned about selecting a (state) pre-school for Guitar Hero Addict. Again, follow the ball & it’s dead easy.

You might have picked though that both Princess P and Guitar Hero Addict are both “neurotypical”.

So some time during Guitar Hero Addict’s pre-school year (2008), we decided Bob the Builder Fan – who at this stage was just “taking his time” learning to speak (or so we thought) – should go off to a daycare.

Well, that proved to be “interesting”. But undiagnosed, BTB Fan simply had a “less than hoped for” year of 1-day-per week daycare. And at the end of that year we started looking for a pre-school.

Guitar Hero Addict’s pre-school promptly put us on formal notice. They had been observing his behaviour with Mum coming in to pick up Guitar Hero Addict. “He’s not coming here without an assessment from ….” a long list of specialists. (I understand Mrs Westie has gone back and thanked them because they lead to our actual diagnosis)

2009 lead to us getting BTB Fan into Tregear Presbyterian Preschool & Early Intervention Service, who in turn got us in touch with a great speach therapist through their sponsorship from St Marys Rugby League Club (who I must say have been fantastic in no-strings sponsorship of a local pre-school).

This year, BTB Fan is back in the same early intervention school. They are continuing their great work. Next challenge will be working out what school gets the benefit of his company in 2011 – and apart from his definate strong personality, BTB Fan is definately going to be a benefit to any school who have the resources to help him, help his classmates.

Reproduced from the now-closed autism united ning website

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