Getting an ASD Diagnosis in Elementary School: A Crucial Window of Time

Going through the Kinder through third grade for my Aspergers son was by far our (and his) most difficult time. A perfect storm comes together for the parent, the teacher and especially the undiagnosed child on the higher end of the autism spectrum when beginning the school age years.

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library

Often thrust into a social situation where no one has a clue that autism even exists can easily mask itself as bad behavior. This crucial window of time has been my inspiration to create Aspergers101 so that you can have more information at your fingertips than we did! The signs could come earlier if your child is in day-care or daily with other children. Although our son (who was our first) did show early signs…it didn’t become ‘in our face’ until he started public school.

Remember, your child cannot tell you that the ringing of the class bell hurts their ears like an icepick to the brain as it starts off the day (as it does every class period). Nor that the polyester in their clothes hurts their skin. At this age they just ‘act out’ when they’ve had enough.

The teacher sees this as a potentially problematic child, and the parent becomes frustrated by not knowing why all this is happening now that they are at school. This is when the perfect storm can happen. You’ve got teacher, parent and student colliding, often treating ‘bad behavior’ verses the real cause which is autism.

Here are three basic behaviors to watch for, where I would strongly suggest looking into a Autism/Aspergers diagnosis.

1) Does your child, upon entering kinder, quickly become divided from the other children?

I noticed my son leading but never following the others. After a few weeks of this…they began to leave Sam behind and oddly he was completely fine with this.

2) Grades don’t reflect their intelligence

Do you notice when your child seemed so super smart at home yet seems to begin falling behind in the classroom environment?

3) Problems with Irritation

Does your child seem to have outbursts during the school day that you or your teacher can’t explain? Sam did…but at that time we didn’t know (nor did he) that he was experiencing sensory overloads, and didn’t know what was causing him the pain, he just knew he had had enough!

Click below to access to a great ASD Checklist that our son’s school provided us:

Informal Childhood Development Checklist

Seek an Autism Clinic in your area to get a diagnosis. Sometimes it can be other issues that are causing your child to react. It is not uncommon that hearing loss, ADHD or other comorbidities could be causing the alienation or outbursts.

However, if it is High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome you now have something to build upon for the success of your child’s education. Our has just graduated college, it’s been a long challenging road, but that diagnosis gave us the knowledge to begin the journey.

by Jennifer Allen

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