Autism and Middle School

Back to School ChalkboardHere in the House o’Layne, we are having a whopping one-week vacation (okay, maybe ten days) between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.

Next week, my younger son will be in 7th Grade. Smack dab in the middle of middle school.

Autistic folks in middle school are like middle schoolers everywhere, taken on a case by case basis. I spent many years teaching Sunday School to middle schoolers, as well as substitute teaching at that level. These are people with whom I am familiar. Autism, though, does add its own edge to the experience.

Autism Concept.Since my son is going to a private school, he is not “mainstreamed” into a typical middle school culture. He is instead in class with young people much like himself, yet each as uniquely individual as can be. Popularity? Not an issue. Crushes? Oh, maybe, but with the huge differential in male-to-female population, it’s not surprising. The girls in his grade (there might be two) are not subject to the same attention as they might be in a “regular” public school. The boys don’t put one another down, there isn’t competition in athletics at this age (that I’m aware of, anyway), and it’s still very much each student for him/herself.

Still, I know my son and I know middle schoolers. These are kids who are dealing with hormones in their own ways, I’m sure. It’s just that a lot of the social insecurity that is often present at this age isn’t happening with these kids. Many of them are working hard just to maintain their behavior in class, perhaps, or stay focused during a lesson. Thankfully, there is no bullying, in his class. No social drama, either. As a mom, honestly, this is a relief.

According to my son, the hardest thing about middle school is that there is so much more work than there was before. The best thing is the free time, because he’s moved “beyond the whole recess thing.”

Middle School Boy Using a ComputerIs life ideal? No. He has a lot of concerns directly related to autism in addition to having concerns that any seventh-grade boy would have in dealing with authority, in self-acceptance, and even having mood swings. The trick is to recognize each turn for what it is and handle it appropriately.

I pray. A lot.

middle school boySo while most of the people I know are relaxing comfortably here at the beginning of summer, or wondering what to do with kids home all day every day, I am prepping for the next school year. There will be new challenges for my son as well as new triumphs. In another year, he might get to start in on woodworking.

That would be awesome. 🙂


 

All images in this post are from depositphotos.com and are used w/permission.

2 comments

  1. Jack Flacco · June 29, 2014

    Being the parent of an autistic child myself, I found the learning years difficult. We ended up homeschooling our kid because we we having more problems with the teachers than we were with the school. Somehow, the teachers did not have the skillsets to deal with the challenges presented to them that an autistic child generates. But once we pulled the kid out of school, their growth expended astronomically. Naturally, I wouldn’t recommend what we did to everyone, but I do think there are benefits to doing what we did. Nonetheless, middle school, I think, is the best part of schooling, imo. It has the hormones going, the high math to deal with and the interesting history lessons. It goes without saying the kids get something out of it, too! lol

    Thanks for sharing, Sandi! 🙂

    • Sandi · June 30, 2014

      I would actually like to homeschool Son the Younger, but my husband is in favor of him being in a school with other folks at present. The school does have superior staff, well-equipped to handle the challenges of autism and I never have to feel apologetic because of my son, so that’s a huge deal for all of us.

      I hated middle school myself. Nothing surprised me more than finding that I fit there as a teacher. lol

      I’m so glad that you were able to homeschool your autistic child. 🙂

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