Yesterday Mateo had a play date with our neighbor, J. It was a play date put together by Mateo’s ABA Therapists. Trying to teach Mateo how to initiate play. They are the same age, only separated by days. J is in the same preschool class and since we are neighbors the boys have grown up together. Now that they are four, J is starting to see the differences.
He tells his mom, “Mateo repeats everything I say.”
She tells him, “Yes, he’s learning to talk.”
J says, “He doesn’t talk much yet.”
His mom replies, “Yes he’s still learning.”
I try to remind myself how far we have come, where we started from, how much he has achieved in such a short time.
I see kids look at him strangely in class when he flaps his arms, and drums on the side of his legs, and hits the top of his head. Trying to figure out what the boy who doesn’t talk much is doing during class. I hope the other parents are like J’s mom and embrace his differences show the other kid’s the positive affect they are having on Mateo.
But the boys had a great time during their play date. J didn’t want to leave and begged his mom for “this many more minutes” as he held up 5 fingers. Although Mateo repeats J’s words, it doesn’t hinder their friendship.
It’s time for us to figure out what we will do for Kindergarten, only 9 months away. Many parents with children on the Spectrum hold them back a year. We have decided that we want to enroll Mateo and see how he does, but is that going to be the best solution for him? Will he be ready? I really worry about inclusion. It’s an important part of deciding to enroll your child into a main-streamed school. To make sure he feels included in class, with his peers, with the other parents.
Making the right decisions for our children is something each parent struggles with. I had the same stress with my typically developing daughter, and picking the right school for her. But with Mateo, I feel a weight. He can’t speak for himself and tell me how things are going. He can’t tell me if the kids at school are picking on him, or if the teacher is being unfair. I envision spending many more hours in the classroom next year, making sure things are going well for him, that we have made the correct decision.