Sunday, April 10, 2011


The first one I'm tackling is mainstreaming. The question I've heard and been asked myself is if Butters is mainstreamed. Basically the term mainstream refers to having a child in a normal classroom or activities.

For us the decision has been easy for the moment. Right now Butters is in a special needs preschool through our local elementary school and in a mainstream gymnastics class at The Little Gym.

In preschool he works on a variety of things such as social, fine and gross motor skills, speech and basic language. During the 2.5 hours he is there Monday through Thursday it looks like a typical class room. They have free play, station tables, circle time, snack time, all of the things you would find in a normal classroom. The difference with his classroom is that there is one teacher and 2 assistants with 10 kids. There is also a speech pathologist and occupational/physical therapist that come in a couple of times a week and help kids with very specific tasks. After his first week he was coming home singing parts of songs and very happy overall. Also the teaching staff has been great. They answer emails and keep us updated with what they are doing in the classroom.

At the gym he works on gross motor skills and socialization. One of the things they do at the gym is encourage him to work with the other kids and be part of the group. He works also on how exactly to interact with other kids his age. They make it ok for him to wander at times but always ask him to come back to the group and praise him when he does return and work with the other kids and instructors. He will even be going to camps a couple of times a week this summer to continue to work on things.

One thing I have to say about the gym is we absolutely love the staff. He has gone to both a gym in Alabama before we moved and the gym in our current town. Both locations have been trained in autism and understand how these kids act. Its been very important for us to get him active and involved with a program that understands his quirks and works on a variety of things. The gyms have been wonderful not only for him but also Peanut. She has been going a little longer than he has (due to the seizure incident) and also loves it.

So this is our approach to mainstreaming right now. I feel that he is doing great in a mainstream gym setting and special education classroom for preschool. For him its probably the best of both sides and will help him progress over the remainder of the school year and into the summer.


  1. My son is 8 years old and was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome last year. He's currently in 2nd grade and has always been mainstreamed. I think my son would've benefited from a self-contained classroom during his first school years, had we gotten an early intervention for him. His first school years (Pre-K through 1st grade) were VERY HARD and challenging for us, and him. His teachers were NOT trained to handle children on the Autism Spectrum and in my opinion, damaged his self-esteem. They kept constantly putting him down for his challenges and very seldom praised his strengths. Although they were aware that there was something wrong with him and I was doing my part in seeking a diagnosis they insisted in treating him and holding him to the same standards as the other NT kids. Since his diagnosis, we've moved him to a school that is trained to handle children on the spectrum. He's still mainstreamed the difference now is that his teacher has a co-teacher that visits the classroom throughout the day, 2 to 3 hours a day, and helps him and other special need children with their individual needs. We still have our struggles with attention/focus but things are way more better than previous years.

    In my opinion, children who need a more 1 on 1 help in the classroom would benefit from a self-contained classroom. Looking back I think my son would've strongly benefited from being in a self-contained classroom setting during those first school years. Children who are able to work on their own for the most part with redirection and prompting will probably be OK in a mainstreamed classroom provided his teacher has an assistant/co-teacher. The most important factor is to find the RIGHT school and staff to work with our children. =)

  2. If there is proper support for your son I think you should mainstream him, especially if he is bored academically. Having raised two youngmen with aspergers I have experienced both self-contained and mainstream. Mainstream teaches them how to interact with typical peers which is generally life. The majority of people you come into contact with daily do not have a disability and our children need to know how to interact and read typical situations..

    Also both of the boys have had paras through highschool and we even hired help for them in college. it is not a reason to hide your child away from society in a self-contained classroom.

    There are some levels of autism that require more structure and support than a mainstream environment can give them. A properly trained teacher however, understands scheduling, sensory issues and auditory processing in a mainstream environment for a child with aspergers.

    Perhaps in your district mainstream means no support and throw the child into the fray. however that is not how it is supposed to be done.I would check out the way your district handles mainstreaming, the support available and just what a self-contained program happens to be. There are some self-contained programs that are no more than warehousing too and they throw all disabilities together. That would do your child absolutely no benefit.

  3. Elise, right now in our district once he reaches kindergarten he will be in a mainstream classroom with some help from a class aid. At this time he is in a self contained classroom with a teacher and 2 aids. He is also lucky that there are kids on the very end of the spectrum (better) than he is in the class as well. His class goes outside every day weather permitting. From what we can tell he loves it and comes home singing songs and other things. We always ask him what he did and have even gotten a response once or twice.

    Team Aspie, one other good thing is that all of the teachers in the district are required to have training in autism and all of its forms. The teacher he has now is very knowledgeable and very good at communicating what they are working on and how he is progressing. They have already updated his IEP this week because he is progressing so quick. Don't get me wrong he still has a lot to work on but they are really pushing him at school which is great.