Saturday, December 10, 2011

Transition Time

Middle school was by far the hardest time of my life for many reasons.  I have explained many of these reasons in previous blog posts, but I want to isolate what I feel is the most important of these reasons: when I was in middle school, particularly when I was in sixth grade, I didn't have any peers my own age that I could rely on.  During the summer before sixth grade, I fell out of contact with my best friend after she went to a different school.  So, as a result, I felt like I didn't have any friends which contributed to my depression in the months preceding my treatment and official diagnosis with autism.

After I entered high school, many things changed for the better.  I can largely attribute this to marching band.  So, because of that, I recommend that ASD students in elementary try to get involved with some sort of extracurricular activity, such as a sport, Boy Scouts, orchestra, or band.  Parents, your ASD child may want nothing to do with what you are suggesting to them.  I didn't want to be in band while I was in middle school.  In spite of that, I encourage parents to try to keep their ASD children involved with those activities as long as possible, even if you have to fight your kids over it. 

If my mom would have allowed me to quit band in seventh grade, I would have missed out on so much in high school and today.  A week from tomorrow, I am performing a Christmas program, once again, in the Waterford New Horizons Concert Band, which in the musical group that I play in today.  You just never know where things are going to lead.  There might be trouble at present, but that can change quite suddenly if your ASD child commits himself or herself to that change.

I also encourage parents to seek out any peer-transition programs that might be available at any level of education.  I have witnessed such programs available at the middle school level and the university level.  You just don't know what is available until you look.

When my younger brother (who is off the spectrum) attended middle school, he participated in this program as a mentor to an ASD student.  Since the event took place six years ago, my brother cannot recall all the aspects of the program.   My brother does remember giving an ASD student assistance with schoolwork.  The mentors in this particular program received extra credit and their contributions were evaluated. There was a social event concluding the program where the participants, mentors, and others met at a local part to celebrate a successful year.

When I was an ASD student struggling in middle school, I wanted nothing more than people I could count on.  I received just that when I started high school.  Peer support really does make all the difference towards gaining, or regaining stability in the life of an ASD child.

1 comment:

  1. as a mom of a 24 year old i so agree with this post. sometimes we just have to stick to our guns for our kids sake and keep them involoved as when they are struggling the first thing they was to do is withdraw which is only to be expected it's then up to us to find the strength to keep them going it so pays off in the future. friends also are so very very important at this time of their lives my son has many friends most have AS some are more able than other a good mix of abilities. they are so supportive of each other and get each other through difficult time better than any parent or proffesional could. thanks for this post it is so well written and informative for parents just reaching this time in their childs life well done mate great blog gill x