Monday, April 1, 2013

This is Autism Acceptance




You might not have realised it if I hadn't pointed it out, but these photos are of Autism Acceptance.

Acceptance- the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable

My MissG started Kindergarten this year. We did a lot of preparation for this, because MissG is Autistic and has Sensory Processing Disorder. We worked with the school to help MissG get used to the routines of the school, gave her practice being in the classroom, and moving around the school in a group, playing in the playground with lots of other kids darting around..... things like that. We focussed on her own safety by teaching her a procedure she could use when she is feeling stressed or experiencing sensory overload so she could go to a "hiding place" where she felt safe and could wind down a bit. We made sure she knew the ladies who work in the office because they are the ones who look after kids who need first aid. We made sure she was totally comfortable with The Principal because he would be the person who would intervene in an emergency. We made sure she knew who her classroom teacher would be and got to know her, so there would be no anxiety about who she would be with. [search "transition to school" using the search function at the top right of the blog if you want to read about the preparation we did]

We did all this with the willing help of the school, who showed us by their actions that they accepted MissG just as she is and are happy to welcome her into their school and do whatever she needs them to do to make school work for her.

And the school has continued to show that they accept MissG and do not expect her to change to suit them. I know this because of the conversations I have with her Lovely Teacher when we check in with each other to make sure everything is going well. I know that when MissG is struggling her Lovely Teacher makes sure she has extra time to process things, and that she is teaching the other kids in the class to do the same. I know that MissG's Lovely Teacher makes an effort to give MissG plenty of warning for transitions and when the usual routine has to be changed. MissG has her own special drawer in the classroom where she keeps some fidget toys and comfort items she can go to if she needs to do something to calm herself.

MissG's Lovely Teacher, The Principal, the Office Ladies and all the other staff in the school value my daughters uniqueness. They let her be who she is. They encourage her. They are proud of her achievements. The see her as adequate. They *accept* her.

I know this because of what happened at the Easter Parade. I posted the above photos so you can see it too.

That is MissG. Dancing. With a partner. In the middle of a group of about 80 children. To loud music. Without her ear defenders on. With a huge smile on her face.

See her? My Autistic daughter? Dancing! With a partner! In the middle of a group of about 80 children! To loud music! Without her ear defenders on! With a huge smile on her face!!

The same girl who 12 months ago could not go shopping with me without having to run away and hide to get away from the overwhelming sensory input. I stood and watched her in that huge group of kids, enjoying herself. Feeling safe. Being confident. And I cried. Happy tears.

I know that the school staff accept my MissG just the way she is because I stood next to one of the Office Ladies during the parade and she said she had been looking for MissG and was so happy to see her enjoying herself even in the middle of the bustle and the noise. I know that her Lovely Teacher values MissG just how she is because she was almost as teary as I was about how well MissG did during the parade. I know that the community we live in accepts my MissG just the way she is because a few people saw me with tears in my eyes and when I told them what they were for they cried happy tears too. They put their arms around this Autism mum and they shared my joy.

My daughter has found a place where she feels safe enough to just be herself and dance.

This is Autism Acceptance.  

10 comments:

  1. I'm having tears of joy for you and her, too. Acceptance, being valued, community, common purpose, connection, friendship, fun, celebration...these are all basic human needs that MissG is having met because of all the wonderful people in her life that CARE.

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  2. That is wonderful Michelle! We are lucky to have a supportive school too for my 2 ASD kids. It makes such a difference when the school listens to you and works with you to make it the best experience for them. Gilbert has made amazing progress this year as they understand him and accept him completely. I have cried happy and proud tears too - hoping this is just the start of an amazing school journey for yourselves and Miss G!

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    1. It does make a big difference having an accepting school ! I feel so grateful to have this school in our area.

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  3. Absolutely beautiful!!! What a fabulous story. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Brenda. I'm enjoying your writing this month!

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  4. Hi Michelle - So happy for you and MissG. Can you share if her school is a traditional elementary? I had a similar experience with my son last fall, where he danced at an assembly. (http://www.carinoga.com/2012/10/22/crying-in-the-aisle/) He attends a public Montessori school and I really believe the Montessori philosophy of "teach to the child" has been instrumental in making him feel welcome and safe. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. Hi Cari,
      sorry for the delay replying- busy week! ;-)
      We live in NSW, Australia. MissG attends our local public primary (elementary) school. The school is on the small side, and is (unfortunately) unusual in the standard and dedication of the teachers- it is an excellent school!! I wouldn't send MissG anywhere else. It is not deliberately Montessori philosophy based, but I can see some similarities in their practice. Accepting a child just as they are is a very powerful thing, no matter who the child is and what their challenges may be.
      I liked your blog post, btw. :-)

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  5. Love this story! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Lauren. Good to have you stop by.

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