Preparing a Child With Autism for Junior High Is Nerve-Racking

Mom Moment 19

My eldest son, Ben, is going into middle school next year. While this would normally be cause for excitement, nerves, and discussions about how to keep organized while having to get from class to class without being late.

It's not.

Now, we're trying to prepare him for people.

See, my kid has autism. And the people I know whose children ALSO have autism have small ones. Their kids are navigating speech therapy and sign language. I'm trying to teach the kid how to express emotions and read people so that he can properly fit in.

Now here's the point where I have to say this: I think my kid is great the way he is. I love different people, the way they act, and learning how others thing. To me, being different is a great thing. For him, it's social suicide.

The Junior High years are the worst (in my opinion) of them all. A mess of kids, all in various stages of puberty, trying to claw to the top of the social pile, squashing everyone below them to get there.

I wonder how it will be for him.

Will he care if he has no best friends? Will he truly learn how different he is? Will anyone eat lunch with him? Will he be okay?

These are questions I have no good answers to.

So instead, I will try my best to explain that, as he well knows, sometimes people are jerks. And that being a jerk is THEIR problem, not his. Because for all that he does understand, the way that others behave is foreign and strange.

Next year, he will be a stranger in a strange land. I only hope we've done enough to prepare him.



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hotic... hoticedcoffee

I don't envy you.  My 5 year old is "on the spectrum", and if I think about him entering First Grade in the Fall for too long, I'll puke.  He's in public kindy now, and doing great, but it's a half-day program and he's very advanced academically, so it easy for him to be a little 'out there' and still able to keep pace with the class.  I'm terrified about what will happen when he's there all day and has to navigate through less-supervised social situations at lunch and recess. 

Good luck to all of you!

Quadm... Quadmom2005

I have no answers, but wanted to thank you for your post. My little spectrum miracle will be 7 this summer and we have worried over all the same things already. I don't know all the things he will encounter, but I do know God's grace follows these amazing children. The things we cannot shield them from, He will provide ways for them to endure and flourish in spite of. Have faith in your son and the awesome parent that you are. The rest you can only take day by day. God bless!

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

I'm a middle school teacher and every year, I see students with autism in my class who do fine.  Yes, they need some support with organization and social issues but our school provided that and they did well.


My best advice....


1.  Ask that your child be sheltered with flexible teachers who are experienced with kids on the spectrum.  I would be talking to the special ed staff about who in that grade they have had the most success with their autism students.  This is probably going to be a highl y organized teacher.   Tell them up front that you don't know which teacher is the right one but describe the kind of teacher who would well match your son and they can figure out who that best is.

2.  Ask that your child be sheltered within his classes by placing students who he has done well with in the past in those classes and excluding any students he has had problems with.

3.  Find out if there are social groups in the school.  These are often done by counselors or social workers.  They are valuable.

4.  Encourage your son to join clubs/sports.

5.  Don't panic.  Middle school is scary for everyone but three weeks in, they have forgotten how scary it was and are settled in.

Cheryl_M Cheryl_M

My son isn't on the spectrum, but he was developmentally delayed in speech, and now that he's caught up (and ahead of the game academically), he's behind socially from being an only child in a somewhat secluded area. He's very good with other kids, especially girls and kids younger than him, but I worry about older kids taking advantage of how innocent he is when it comes to social situations. It happened once on a mixed grade bus while he was in Preschool, and we've been reading books about bullies and such, but it is still SO scary!

Char_... Char_gal4

I'm an adult with Asperger's.  I was diagnosed in 8th grade.  My advice is to get an IEP in order, a system in place for the inevitable meltdowns, and lots of patience.  Puberty SUCKS, and be prepared for some sort of mess (mine was matted hair from not brushing).  Also, "appoint" a trusted kid to be a sort of guardian for your child.  I'd also recommend finding a sort of gaming club to allow him to vent out his imagination (if overcharged like mine) that plays games like Dungeons and Dragons.  Many of the students who played were middle to high schoolers had autism.

jessi... jessicasmom1

My DD has a IEP in order for reading and meltdowns of frustration ... they give her patience and practice :-) very happy to say our support system is great here and total transformation my child.

nonmember avatar Heidi

I was worried about my son too. He got suspended from school three months into Kindegarten. It is hard, but I would do it all over again. He is such an Amazing child, and I have seen so much progress through the IEP program and keeping an open line of communication with the faculty. Now he doesn't even need his visual chart, and meets most of the set expectations, with a few relapses. The biggest thing for you to do, is to find people whom you can talk to that understand what you are going through. The parent of a "General Ed" kid, doesn't really get it.

nonmember avatar rebelwolf625

My 14 stepson is high function autistic and we found out pretty fast that mainstreaming him was not going to work. He's in a special needs class that seems to have worked for most of junior high. My serious dread? Next year starts HIGH SCHOOL.

Bernadette Johnson

my son is in the 7th grade and he has autism as well he has a tough time this it is hard when you do not have the support and the communication of the teachers since they have gotten rid of all the special ed teachers he does not get the special needs he needs

Lisa Donohue

I also am scared to son is transitioning to Middle School this September too...My main concern is the fact that he is completely non-verbal...All I can do though is pray that I will make all the right decisions...

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