We knew that Tommy could talk, play, and interact with us - so we figured he was just shy and quirky. We sent him to a new preschool that fall - secure in the knowledge that the director was supportive of children with differences, and willing to be creative about engaging them. It might have been six weeks later that we got The Call. "I'm sorry," she said, "but we just don't have the resources to help your child. You can keep him here, though, until you find a new setting."
Furious, we yanked him out of the preschool. It was another six months (punctuated by the birth of Tommy's little sister!) before we found a new preschool setting that worked for us and for Tom. In our case, it was a typical preschool with a special needs classroom incorporated into the larger school. Early intervention therapists "pushed in" with occupational, speech and physical therapy. The school worked out well, but it was largely a matter of good luck.
This fall, many parents will be facing the same difficulties we faced. If you're the parent of a young child with "differences," you may be dreading the possibility that preschool just won't work out. If so, this set of articles on Preschool and Autism may be helpful.
If you've already been through the process and out the other side, please share your thoughts and experiences. Did you choose to send your child with autism to preschool, or keep him home? What would you recommend to parents just starting out on the journey?