Audrey, one of Kathy’s kids, is enrolled in a charter school that caters to kids with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autistics. The school is brand new, just opened this year, a few weeks after the regular public school calender got started.
Audrey is 12 years old, and started 7th grade this year. Due to the peculiarities associated with Asperger syndrome, she had tons of trouble adjusting to junior high school. She’s exceptionally bright. As part of getting her diagnosed, the intelligence and psychological tests indicated that she is operating at the mental level of a 21 year old. Unfortunately, she’s several years behind from a social point of view.
When we heard about this school, we signed her up right away. A couple of weeks later, we also signed up Jacob, her younger brother. Audrey has been very happy at the new school. They do things a little differently to accomodate their students’ needs.
The lights are not as bright as you would find in a regular school. Because the kids cannot deal with a lot of change, they stay in one classroom for the whole day. They don’t even have to leave the room for lunch.
Because the school also caters to kids that are actually autistic, they can’t have standard academics for everyone, so some simplicity is to be expected in the work they assign. Audrey’s class in particular has some of the most profoundly autistic kids.
On Monday, Kathy asked Audrey if she got a spelling list for this week. Audrey got quiet and seemed reluctant to discuss it. Kathy pressed on, and she finally handed over the list. I have linked to a photo of the paper below.
That’s right, the spelling words our seventh grade daughter received are the standard set of personal pronouns: I, he, she, we, you, they, it. Jacob, in the fifth grade, received the days of the week and the names of all twelve months as a spelling list. That’s an exceptionally easy list for him, but Audrey’s list is truly the prizewinner.
You can see a stunning example of Audrey’s intelligence and vocabulary by reading the cartoon she drew at the bottom of the page. You may need to view the full-size picture to read what it says.
Kathy wrote about this in her LiveJournal.
Thankfully we’ve already been told that the school plans on addressing the academic situation by the middle of October, so it will be a couple of weeks before we get overly concerned. If it doesn’t improve drastically, we’ll discuss it with the school administrators and decide how to proceed.
After careful study and some reflection, I believe that I myself have this particular disorder. My memories of childhood and certain aspects of my adult life support this conclusion. As an adult, I have adapted fairly well, but it still causes problems. If my own experience is any guide, Audrey is in for a rough road on the social front.