How I know when it’s best to keep my son with #Autism home from school

At the advice of one of my readers, who suggested providing more insight into the how’s and why’s of our life, I thought I would take that advice and begin with a decision we often struggle with, every single morning. 

I want to take a few minutes and explain what goes into deciding whether or not we keep Emmett home from school. This may seem like a weird topic but I know many parents in my situation, likely struggle with the same thing. 

Emmett is our youngest of three with Autism, at eight years of age. 

He’s profoundly impacted by sensory processing disorder. He struggles with things coming into contact with his skin. Wearing clothes, shoes, socks or anything else can be very, very uncomfortable for him. In fact, it can be downright painful as well. 



Emmett also struggles greatly with eating. He’s so sensitive to things like color, taste, smell, presentation, shapes, texture, non-American food items touching and even changes in packaging, that it interferes with his food intake at almost every single meal. 

Getting ready for school is a struggle on most days. Emmett loves school, is well liked and is at the top of his class academically. In other words, he has no reason to want to stay home. 

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About Rob Gorski

Father to 3 with Autism and husband to my best friend. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)

  

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adriannecollee
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adriannecollee

I understand that he’s doing well in school, but why would the number of absences not impact him? I don’t know much about charter schools but I am wondering if they have a different set of criteria than public schools do when it comes to the number of days missed.

Jimmy Rock
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Jimmy Rock

Glad to see you making an effort to getting back to these kinds of posts. I think you recently mentioned feeling like you were in a rut with respect to your writing, and it does seem like you’ve been in this mode where you’re just rotely recounting the events of the day. Anyway, I think you’ve done a good job here’s summarizing what goes into your decision making with respect to this issue. I’ve said a lot already in previous comments about sensory processing issues and I won’t repeat that stuff. I’ll just say that you should be careful not… Read more »

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

We’re not talking extreme absences. These days account for maybe 8 or 10 days a school year.

adriannecollee
Member
adriannecollee

But that’s a day a month and doesn’t take into consideration that he also misses days when he’s sick. I’m still curious if there are different criteria when it comes to special needs or charter schools. I can only go based on what public schools do in my area, but they require doctor’s notes for that many absences, and I didn’t know if special needs schools waived that requirement since it would make sense that the kids in those schools might require more time off for doctors appointments or OT/PT.

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

None of that is an issue here. This is a charter school full of kids with Autism and other special needs. Absences are a common occurrence for kids in this particular category. It’s not a problem and it never has.

adriannecollee
Member
adriannecollee

To follow up on Jimmy’s comment, does he ever miss OT because of the sock and shoe issues?

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

I don’t know that he’s missed OT for that reason. He’s missed it for similar reasons, like not being able to wear clothes or something similar. Typically, he tolerates what he has to in order to go because he gets the sensory input that he needs during these sessions.

adriannecollee
Member
adriannecollee

So then he is somewhat aware of it all. Maybe that shows that he is moving towards being able to tolerate shoes (or other clothing) because he has no other real choice. And a follow up to the absences issue- if the school is okay with the absences because of the sensory disorder, then would they be able to work with him on being able to wear flip flops? I understand that it might be a liability issue for them, but if you and Lizze were to sign a waiver, wouldn’t cold feet be preferable to not going at all?

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

It’s not cold feet. It’s a safety issue cause of the need for them to walk up and down the stairs. All foot apparel needs to have a back. As far as working through it goes, it really depends on how he’s doing overall. OT is right after school and so if he’s in school, he’s already wearing shoes. There are many, many times that I have to carry him to the car after OT because he won’t put his shoes back on. Even the OT can’t get him through it. The school is a charter school for special needs… Read more »

Jimmy Rock
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Jimmy Rock

If what you’re saying is accurate — that he can tolerate the sensory issues prior to going to OT because he gets the input he needs during the OT sessions — then why wouldn’t you see if he can take sensory breaks at school – take a walk with a weighted backpack, make a heavy “delivery” to another classroom, jumping jacks in the hallway, breathing exercises, etc.? I’m sorry for repeating myself, and it’s just an opinion based solely upon the information you’ve provided – but it seems he needs a sensory diet – consistently implemented throughout each and every… Read more »

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

We’ve done sensory diets for years, especially with Gavin. When I said he’s usually okay to go to OT, that’s because I pick him up from school about an hour early and we go straight there. If he’s in school, he’s likely already doing okay with his shoes and socks. Does that make sense? Emmett’s sensory needs require things that aren’t really available in our house. He’s a crasher and basher. The things we’ve been able to do at home haven’t helped much. Commonsense things like brushing, weighted blankets, vests etc, are all things we have readily available at all… Read more »

Jimmy Rock
Guest
Jimmy Rock

I understand what you’re saying, particularly about “crashing and bashing”. Most homes aren’t set up for that! I would still try to talk to the OT about any possible strategies or ideas about replicating, the best you can, any activities that seem to work for him – or, come up with some alternate activities that might successfully provide the necessary sensory input. And what about school? Do they have anything available to him that might work during school hours? I think you might be under a slightly different impression of what a “sensory diet” is than I am. A true… Read more »

paulinabisson5
Member
paulinabisson5

Jimmy, I’m aware of what a sensory diet is and I talk frequently with his OT about in home strategies. The problem is that everything with him is a moving target. Things that work great today, may never work again. In fact, we see that in OT all the time. My kids don’t do anything halfway and that makes it very difficult to navigate. I totally get where you’re coming from and in many cases, you’d be absolutely right. The issue we face is that we are constantly having to come up with new approaches in the moment because everything… Read more »

Gracie
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Gracie

I’m sorry to hear Emmett is still struggling with these issues, and how it impacts his day-to-day life. I know it’s not easy for you, your wife, or the rest of the family. It’s good to hear that he has an OT and that the school is understanding. I was wondering if you/your family had ever gotten in-home services? Here in PA they call it wraparound or “BHRS” and usually there is a BSC (behavior specialist consultant) and “TSS” (therapeutic staff support) that will come to your home and work on mutually agreed upon goals, at times that suit your… Read more »

Jimmy Rock
Guest
Jimmy Rock

I do understand what you’re saying, and as always, thanks for the response. I’m in no way presuming that what can generally work for one individual would work for Emmett. Even under the best of circumstances, a sensory diet can be a trial and error thing, and I wouldn’t even begin to suggest that there’s some sort of “magic bullet” out there that would solve everything, consistently, all the time. And that’s the tricky thing about implementing a sensory diet – it’s hard work, and you very well may not achieve immediate results, or necessarily be able to link any… Read more »

kimmy gebhardt
Guest
kimmy gebhardt

I understand that he’s doing well in school, but why would the number of absences not impact him? I don’t know much about charter schools but I am wondering if they have a different set of criteria than public schools do when it comes to the number of days missed.

Jimmy Rock
Guest
Jimmy Rock

Glad to see you making an effort to getting back to these kinds of posts. I think you recently mentioned feeling like you were in a rut with respect to your writing, and it does seem like you’ve been in this mode where you’re just rotely recounting the events of the day. Anyway, I think you’ve done a good job here’s summarizing what goes into your decision making with respect to this issue. I’ve said a lot already in previous comments about sensory processing issues and I won’t repeat that stuff. I’ll just say that you should be careful not… Read more »

kimmy gebhardt
Guest
kimmy gebhardt

To follow up on Jimmy’s comment, does he ever miss OT because of the sock and shoe issues?