Well Being

3, 5, 8: What Awaits?

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3 years old—a child ages out of Early Intervention: When Rockwell “Rocky” McCloskey turned three years old, his parents, Alison and Patrick McCloskey of Huntington Beach, California, were told that he was no longer eligible for services, as reported in today’s OC Register. Rocky, who has autism, had been receiving behavioral intervention via the Regional Center’s Early Start program for children under age 3 and had been making “some progress.” The McCloskeys hired an advocate, Debra Borden, of We Are Kids First Inc. in Irvine, to challenge the decision and were successful.

5 years old—is your child ready for kindergarten, perhaps with an aide, and only for part of the day? (My son never went to kindergarten; he is in the fifth grade now.)

8 years old—my son went from the “primary autistic” classroom into the “intermediate” one; this proved a difficult period, as we have sought to continue to emphasize academics for Charlie, while accepting that there may be some limitations about how far he can go with these, and also understanding that his learning may become increasingly vocational. (Not that knowing how to read some basic instructions and to count and keep track of time aren’t academic skills, too.)

It is a transition for Charlie each step of the way, and a transition for me as a parent, and (as I have come to realize) for the school system, who is still seeking to figure out how to teach a child like Chalrie in a public school setting.

Charlie, who will be 11 next May, starts middle school next year. You might catch (detect, that is) autism early, but it is a lifelong journey. 16 may not be such a milestone for Charlie as he will not be able to drive a car, but he will be 21 in just over a decade, and we’ll be walking him, every day and step of the way.