Parents of Aspergers Children, Don’t Be Intimidated by Medical and Educational Professionals

After raising children for sixteen years, I’ve learned to trust my instincts. In fact, one psychologist told me that I have a PhD in my children. In this particular case he was referring to my autistic son, who was five years old at the time.

He said, “You’ve been studying him for five years now. That’s how long it takes some psychologists to earn their PhD. You are an expert on your son. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”

Medical Personnel:

I wish I had this much confidence in myself when my middle son was an infant. I kept taking him in for his well baby check ups and complained about developmental delays. He was months behind his brother for smiling, babbling, crawling, walking, talking, etc.

I was intimidated into not looking for answers for three years by one simple comment from his doctor. “Oh, you had the perfect child first.” When my son was three and a half years old, I ventured to ask my own physician in the same family practice. She administered some developmental tests on the spot. Then she immediately handed me a referral to a children’s developmental clinic.

It turned out I was correct in my concern. My son received the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome from this clinic. Fortunately, my son was not adversely affected by the delay in a diagnosis and early interventions.

Educational Professionals:

When I took my son into preschool, the vice principal told me that my son was too young to receive a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. When I requested my son be tested for speech and language disabilities, I was told that he had none. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) my son had at the beginning of preschool was withdrawn.

In kindergarten my son came home thirty-eight days in a row having had a wetting accident during class. I thought I had complained to everyone that something was wrong. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. All I know is after a meeting between my attorney and specialists and the school board’s vice superintendent, attorney and the school’s principal, my son was immediately moved to a different classroom and teacher. The wetting accidents stopped.

There was a discrepancy between the quality of work he was bringing home and what he was doing at home. I felt my son had a learning disability. The school did not. I went to the local learning disability advocates who confirmed that the school did not have to do anything more for my child. I hired an attorney and educational consultant who affirmed my position.

In the end, I did not continue with the services of the hired professionals. Once I had begun to trust in my own instincts, I began advocating on my own for my son. Eventually we did receive a new IEP for my son. He went from a child in the top two thirds of his class to earning straight ‘A’ report cards and being placed in the Honors program

Parents of Aspergers Children, Don’t Be Intimidated by Medical and Educational Professionals

After raising children for sixteen years, I’ve learned to trust my instincts. In fact, one psychologist told me that I have a PhD in my children. In this particular case he was referring to my autistic son, who was five years old at the time.

He said, “You’ve been studying him for five years now. That’s how long it takes some psychologists to earn their PhD. You are an expert on your son. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”

Medical Personnel:

I wish I had this much confidence in myself when my middle son was an infant. I kept taking him in for his well baby check ups and complained about developmental delays. He was months behind his brother for smiling, babbling, crawling, walking, talking, etc.

I was intimidated into not looking for answers for three years by one simple comment from his doctor. “Oh, you had the perfect child first.” When my son was three and a half years old, I ventured to ask my own physician in the same family practice. She administered some developmental tests on the spot. Then she immediately handed me a referral to a children’s developmental clinic.

It turned out I was correct in my concern. My son received the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome from this clinic. Fortunately, my son was not adversely affected by the delay in a diagnosis and early interventions.

Educational Professionals:

When I took my son into preschool, the vice principal told me that my son was too young to receive a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. When I requested my son be tested for speech and language disabilities, I was told that he had none. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) my son had at the beginning of preschool was withdrawn.

In kindergarten my son came home thirty-eight days in a row having had a wetting accident during class. I thought I had complained to everyone that something was wrong. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. All I know is after a meeting between my attorney and specialists and the school board’s vice superintendent, attorney and the school’s principal, my son was immediately moved to a different classroom and teacher. The wetting accidents stopped.

There was a discrepancy between the quality of work he was bringing home and what he was doing at home. I felt my son had a learning disability. The school did not. I went to the local learning disability advocates who confirmed that the school did not have to do anything more for my child. I hired an attorney and educational consultant who affirmed my position.

In the end, I did not continue with the services of the hired professionals. Once I had begun to trust in my own instincts, I began advocating on my own for my son. Eventually we did receive a new IEP for my son. He went from a child in the top two thirds of his class to earning straight ‘A’ report cards and being placed in the Honors program.

John Dewey and Education

No discussion on educational reform will be complete without looking into the educational philosophy espoused by John Dewey. The progressive education movement was led by John Dewey. Progressive education sought to revolutionize the way students learn from a traditional test-driven, textbook and rote learning-oriented system to an experiential and project-based mode of learning.

His educational philosophy was well laid out in his book Experience and Education. He laid emphasis on a hands-on approach rooted in experience for nurturing and stimulating the curiosity of students. However, he was against a rigid or dogmatic adherence to one particular approach and felt an open approach incorporating the best practices of different approaches towards learning was the way forward. John Dewey voiced his concern that the extremes of progressive and child-centred education which focused on complete freedom could result in chaos and felt a flexible structured approach was important in experiential learning.

John Dewey put forward a theory of experience to be incorporated into the educational approach that he envisioned. In his theory of experience, John Dewey defined two aspects necessary for imparting education in an experiential mode, namely continuity and interaction.

Continuity takes into the account the importance of each prior experience affecting each new experience of a student or individual and shaping their perspectives and insights. John Dewey thus highlighted the importance of experiential learning building on a learner’s prior experience and knowledge and the importance of continuity in a learning experience.

Interaction refers to the level of involvement of the learner to a particular learning experience which directly correlates with the prior experience of the learner and the learner’s own inner motivation, perceptions and goals.

John Dewey’s philosophy on education also laid great emphasis on the psychological and social aspects of a student’s life that had a great impact on his/her experience. Traditional approaches on the other hand neglected this important factor that affected each experience of a student. He felt that the teacher needs to be a facilitator and guide who empathizes with the learner instead of an authoritarian figure who invokes fear in the minds of the learner. He felt that each new experience should arouse the curiosity of the student to develop new interests and broader perspectives and should enable the student to relate to his/her immediate surroundings.

John Dewey’s philosophy of education thus envisioned a dream of education leading to an enhancement of social consciousness for the betterment of society.