My 22-month old son has been receiving speech therapy and developmental therapy for 3 months. Occupational and phyiscal therapy are being added now, as well as a referal to a developmental pediatrician. At this point, he does not have an official diagnosis. I have a feeling that he will be on the autism spectrum, but this cannot be determined until 2 1/2 - 3. We are debating relocating to another state before he gets into school so that he can receive the best possible services. I would like to hear the input from teachers and others as to where they feel are great states, good states, and states to avoid in this situation.
Thank you in advance for your input.
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Take him to a psychologist who specializes in Autism. It is true that he is young, but an expert might be able to tell you. I would avoid making any major decisions until you know exactly what you are dealing with.
The state of Missouri has some good Autism resources. Missouri State in Springfield has Project ACCESS and the University of Missouri in Columbia has the Thompson Center. I have worked with both and feel they work well with both educators and parents. At age 3 your son would become eligible for Early Childhood Special Education Services, until that age he could be a part of Missouri's First Steps Program.
Your best bet is to investigate. Research which states have the best available resources for your child. Many states are struggling right now as far as education goes. I think that it is great that you are so involved in the education of your son.
I have looked at the websites and most of what I am finding tries hard to recommend any specific locations, but Wisconsin, California, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts keep showing up as pretty good states and Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and a few others in the south are often mentioned as states to avoid. We are currently living in one of the states to avoid, if at all possible. I am really hoping to get some specific state/ district information from other teachers. I know what I need to be asking in general, but there are so many districts nationwide, that being able to narrow our search based on information from other teachers would be a huge help.
I note that you are an editor here. If indeed you also teach, I would consider also researching medical coverage in your state. I have been in states, I guess districts would be more exact, that provide everything for teachers, and I have been in those that allow medicine to nickel and dime me for all I am worth. Autism spectum disorders can mean lots of doctors along the way. In both districts I have had the privilege to teach in I found children with autism received great care from grades K-10. By 11th grade, they were working out of IEPs and had developed many coping skills. Normal is a great word I would use to describe them.
Have you seen Parenthood? Just a thought... NBC show, a little piece of relational sanity to watch someone else deal.
What a great mother you are, to be so proactive and willing to uproot and do whatever else is necessary to provide the best opportunities for your son. I only have one observation to add based on my years teaching in a smaller private school. I teach high school, and I've had several Asberger's students who were quite successful in this kind of smaller, controlled environment where they were consistently accountable. In the lower grades, it's tempting to think that simply placing an autistic child in a such an environment would be a good idea; however, I watched it fail in several different classrooms with several teachers at several grade levels. I can't be specific as to how severe the autistic children were, but I know it was not a positive experience for them. I'm suggesting that teachers trained specifically for autism would nearly always be a better choice than just a small, caring environment trying to do the right thing without much actual training. Perhaps this seems obvious, but I've seen it happen and the results weren't particularly encouraging. Blessings on this journey.
I do have a friend who emigrated two years ago from Lebanon to the United States with her autistic son. She specifically chose the Chicago area because they have an excellent autism program that is open to the public. She could have lived with family in a less expensive state, but the programs in Chicago were so good that she moved there and has stayed there. Good luck in your search--I commend you for your drive!
I can only concur with #2 - now is your time to research and investigate and get in touch with a whole variety of groups that can inform and support you. Even though you don't have a definite diagnosis, it can't hurt to be put in touch with other groups which can offer you advice on a wide range of levels. It would be great to find a group of parents with autistic children, for example, that could offer you emotional support, as well as other bodies that could offer you educational advice specific to your situation. I really hope you are able to make some great connections now, but don't do anything drastic until you know a lot more.
I have not had experience with Autism either in my family or with students in my classes. However, I did a quick research and pulled the above links for you. I think that most states and schools have good special education programs, but you will need to seek a foundation or association specifically for Autism to ask the questions you will undoubtedly have about getting the best education and service for your son. That would be my first step as a parent...find the group that advocates for Autistic kids and ask them. They are the experts.
One must seek out not just a teacher's opinion but also a qualified physician to see if there is any underlying other medical causes to the situation. Not only check out a physician but also add a learning specialist to see if the problem can be fixed with any type of educational adjustment.
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