Aspergers: Autism Spectrum Disorder - Asperger’s Syndrome - How We Got or Get Appropriate College Education

Dan Has Autism Spectrum Disorder - This Is The Story of Our Fight For Appropriate College Education.

Dan has autism spectrum disorder. He was turning 16 years and forced to look to the future. This is very difficult if you find pending change an impossible thought. This type of fear leads you into a dark frozen void. Yes, Dan has Asperger’s syndrome and the change in his life involved college education. Dan is someone with ASD, trapped and exasperated within a conflicting adolescent body. What he needed was not something mainstream education could offer. It was something especially designed with his special needs in mind. This is our story of winning the right for an Asperger’s Syndrome college education.

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A College Education
A College Education

World Of Autism A-Store

My A-Store is cram-packed full of great specialist information and products especially picked and recommended by me to you!

Why not treat yourself to a better autistic understanding by clicking:

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Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2004. You can read his story by clicking on the link in the resource box at the bottom of this article:

  • My Asperger's Syndrome Son

People with ASD have problems with Social Interactions

Daniel’s social interaction has always been problematic. He never was a mixer, although, he would occasionally develop one to one friendships. He has always been an isolate. He was always willing but never able, socially. Teachers considered him an enigma and very troublesome – he lacked attention and easily lost his temper. Acceptance of change never came naturally to him. Well, what do you expect from an Aspie?!

Dan has had difficulties all his life, has needed help in independence and social skills. Although his secondary school did their best to cater for his needs – he just couldn’t cope in mainstream education. Much of his time he would abscond or retreat to the SENCO’s (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) department just to run away from the stresses and strains of an education system unable to deal with people with autism. People like Daniel.


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Yes, Autistic Spectrum Disorders are definitely for life and not just for Christmas. What this hub is about, however, is living with an adolescent who has Asperger's Syndrome. This is our life since Christmas - see resource box for link...

  • Asperger's Syndrome & ADHD: Autistic Spectrum Disorder's Are For Life, Not Just For Christmas!

People With Asperger's Syndrome Can Be Impressionable - They Are Vulnerable and Can Be Led Astray

Dan was impressionable. Boys who wanted to set him up for trouble had led him astray. Well, they thought it funny – Dan just thought they were friends! Try telling that to the Police when they came knocking for him – telling him that those types of boys was not the sort to mix with! Ultimately, he had been involved in an incident where his ‘friend’ threatened a Shop Assistant with a scalpel! Ah, but that is another story for which I have provided a link for opposite.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, Dan didn’t thrive in mainstream school and he wasn’t going to thrive in mainstream college education. What he needed was specialist college education that would cater for his needs. Furthermore, he needed to move on. He was abusing me and, more importantly, his brother who has his own health problems to contend with.

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Asperger's Autism Vs Diabetes = Sophie's Choice

Christian is an insulin dependant diabetic since 18 months old, has always been overshadowed and bullied by Dan. I had to do the best for both my children. Christian, now 14 years old, needed his time to concentrate on being his best, get some qualifications from school and live life without threat. Deciding that Dan needed to leave home felt like a scene out of Sophie’s Choice. The only option was to find him somewhere that would help him reach his full potential – to be the best he can be and a valuable citizen of our society. I don’t want him to cause anyone any harm, but in order to achieve this, he needed specialist college education.

In my other articles (click on the links at the bottom of this article), I explain why and how to win the Right For an Asperger’s Syndrome College Education and I can say the process very nearly tipped me over the edge. I had to focus myself on getting the best for Daniel, so gave up some of my work to create time to the cause. Notice I say cause? Well, for a while, I had to escort Dan to his lessons at school and the rest of the time was spent in appointments to various multidisciplinary agencies to imitate reports and assessments. If you have children, you have to prioritise their needs over your own.

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The Priory Group

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauricedb/2706292588/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauricedb/2706292588/

Helpful Support From My Member Of Parliament & G.P.

I spoke to my Member of Parliament – Mr David Heathcote-Amory – who was particularly helpful. He understood our needs as a family and provided a letter in support. As with our brilliant G.P. who knew the history of the problems, we as a family, had gone through.

Unfortunately, Social Services had closed our case 12 months previously without notifying us and telling us that they had recommended that Daniel needed to go to a special school for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. We never received such recommendation previously and it was only by luck that a copy was dispatched to us upon my persistent request.

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This is what appropriate college education did... the keyboard player is Dan!

How Can I Send My Baby Away?!

Daniel as a baby
Daniel as a baby

Social Services - An Example of Emotional Blackmail

A Social Worker from Frome, when contacted, just gave me ‘councillor’ spiel about how she could ‘hear how upset I was’. She didn’t tell me the case was closed after my contact at Christmas (it was February when I chased her up again) and withheld information as to the recommendations.

When I told her the situation with Dan’s behaviour was intolerable, abusive to my younger son and that I was considering placing him into care, she said ‘remember when he was a baby, you loved him so. How can you do that to your baby? You are his mother. Rejecting your baby will lead to him being broken and it would be your fault. Can you really do this to him?’

Mothers always feel guilty. It seems to be part of the role, but these comments were emotional blackmail – to stop me from hindering the budget and to cover a mess up in their administration. It seems that, in her eyes, it was alright for the younger sibling to be abused. What if I was abused by a partner? Social services would have acted straight away because the family would be at risk. Contradictory eh?

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Chasing The Multidisciplinary Team & Finding the Perfect College Education For Autistic Spectrum Disorders

So… I chased to reopen the case – which Social Services were reluctant to allow. I chased up the Clinical Psychologist – there had been a change in their restructuring. I arranged for assessments and attended meetings (always with my Parent Partnership advocate by my side – as she has been for many years). The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) had, almost daily, communication.

Other agencies became aware of my name. I appeared strong, well informed to them, but deep down was cracking. However, I now had a focus. After my research – ringing around and gathering advice and tips – I found the perfect college education for Dan and his ASD. Furthermore, there was a bonus. It was within a 15 mile radius of home and not one of the multidisciplinary team had knowledge of the further education version of it.

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Fighting For Funding

Things started to hot up. An application was made – albeit late – and we attended a viewing. Dan liked it! That was it – our focus. It was the last push that was the hardest where we had to contend with the fight for funding. £90,000 a year is not a sum to be sniffed at in education and fighting for it was like a tug of war – although this was necessary for Daniel. He needed this. We needed this.

My role was to pull the team together. I was the glue and the force behind them all. Each and every member had to be pulled together from various disciplines – health, social welfare and education. They all had to work in partnership for Dan’s benefit and I had to be the link to them all. I exchanged details to each and every one of the multidisciplinary team for their files and kept them all up to speed in what was happening and whom they needed to speak to, directing them toward our Connexions advisor who was working on Dan’s case. This was so she could formulate a good case to put forward to the County Council for access to funding.

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Rejection From Mainstream Education

Our SENCO very cleverly linked us up with the local mainstream college who advised us that we needed to apply to the college and be rejected. This was a necessary evil and was obvious that Dan was not suitable for mainstream because of his difficulties and challenging behaviour. He would also be rejected on the grounds that the course for which he wanted to do did not accept people with Asperger’s syndrome. This was a public services course where social intelligence is particularly important.

We applied for the course. This was difficult for someone with autistic spectrum disorder to understand. Why apply to do something when he will probably be rejected? Well, that is just part of the course in getting what he really needed – college education that was individualised to his needs. Of course, he got rejected but instead of a ‘boo hoo’, it was a ‘horray!’. However, in the meantime, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The uncertainty and process was making me ill – the Doctor said that it wasn’t medication that I needed – it was a resolve.

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What College Education Specialising In Autism spectrum disorders will do for Dan:

  • Teach Him Independence
  • Teach Him Understanding
  • Empathy
  • Giving him a one to one in achieving his educational qualifications
  • Link him to the social world
  • Help him with employment and career development
  • Teach him to budget
  • To Be a Valuable Citizen and Member of the Community
  • Open him to opportunities
  • Learn to share
  • Teach him respect

Asperger's Syndrome But Hope For All.

My brilliant Doctor must have shared concerns with Social Services (a visit had already taken place by this time) and the other agencies because it started to all fall into place.

Connexions had finally drafted the recommendation report and submitted to the County Council shortly after the education college for ASD formally accepted Dan.

This must have meant that Social Services had agreed to fund the residential component of the college because it is joint funded when it comes to the residential component. I didn’t have to, therefore, put Dan in care in order to get what is right for him which was a relief.

This further educational opportunity for Dan has given my other son a chance to have a life like any other kid – something that he has never had before.

Me? I am no longer at a brink of dispear. I am looking forward to developing a meaningful relationship with my Autistic son. As from September, he will be home one weekend in two. It will be lovely to look forward to seeing him instead of dreading it. For us, it means that we all have a second chance and, at last, the future has hope.

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College Education Rights Are So Complex You Need A Degree To Get It!

Autism spectrum disorder is a social condition. It affects those with this condition in a very individual way. It is for this reason that individual educational and social plans have to be developed in order to cater for the complexities of ASD. Dan, like many young men who suffer with Asperger's syndrome, needs an appropriate college education to cater for his special needs. It is a shame, however, that many families have to be brought to the brink of break-down before their voices are heard. It is even more of an indictment that in order to get what is right, it is beneficial to hold a diploma in health and social welfare, certificate in further education and an Hons in Psychology. Why? Because the system is so complex that 'Joe Public' wouldn't even know where to start without these qualifications! I hope this article helps you!

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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A Good Explaination From Someone With Asperger's Syndrome

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Comments 18 comments

MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Now I know why we hadn't heard from you for a while, Shaz! You have been very busy with Dan and searching for the right college for him.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, you are an amazing person, especially that you put up with bureaucrats and are actually able to get through to them. Well done.

So much great information here for anyone wondering about Aspergers and the video explains the condition very well.

Best wishes to you, Dan and the rest of your family. Take care my friend.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

MPG - It has been a real rollercoaster and this is not the end of it. I have two other parts that I hope will help people though similar. Thank you for your support :)


humagaia profile image

humagaia 6 years ago from United Kingdom

I can relate.

Although not as debilitating to the family or as educationally individual a need as Asperger's my daughter is a dyslexic. She is almost 30 now, so you can probably tell that it was the mid- to late-1980's when we had similar struggles with the educational system.

Dyslexia was not a mainstream problem back then, known as it is now. The word (for then it was a word and not a description) was only just coming into the consciousness of the education system and the general public's parlance.

First, we had to educate the teachers that there was such a condition. Then we had to take on the Council and make them understand that there was a special educational need. They wanted to place my daughter in a 'Special' school. Well, yes, she is special to us, but not in the way that the educators meant it.

She was unable to grasp (and subsequently found to be unable to focus properly on) conglomerations of letters and make any sense out of them. This was a cognition problem, not a mental problem.

The problem with an education system for the masses is that it educates the masses. It does not educate the individual. There is no individualism in education. What my daughter, as your son, required was individual tuition with specialised recognition of and education for her condition.

And was it forthcoming?

It took two years for her to be assessed and Statemented. A process necessary for educational needs to be catered for. The reason? "Well, it is too early for us to be sure that she is Dyslexic". You can imagine what that did to me. I came out fighting, just as you. When an animal is cornered...........

Geum, my daughter, was about 8 1/2 when she finally received the individual help she required.

Did it help?

Well, she now has Level 4 HNC educational qualifications - pretty good for a 'special needs' child that would have been taken out of mainstream education just for the education system to say that they were 'doing something'.

And that is why I write on childhood learning.

Never judge someone on what they cannot do, judge them on what they are able to do and the effort they put into that, to be the best that they can.

I hope all goes well for the future that you have managed to grant for Dan and just as important, the rest of you family.

Education for the masses, yes. But more important, quality education for everyone: that is each individual. We no longer need fodder for the manufacturing industry, we need well-educated, highly skilled personnel no matter what personal difficulties, educationally, they may have.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

humagaia - I really cant add anything more to your eloquent comment. Individual's need to be met individually - for Dan it was more so.. he needed specialist education because he didnt fit in mainstream. He absolutely fell apart - there is more, my friend, but you will need to read this when I have tweaked a bit more :)


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

My brother in law has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome to be exact. He has made wonderful strides over the past 12 years. He is getting ready to start school to become a chef,...I am so proud of him. It did take a very long time for the medical field to properly define what his struggles are. This is a wonderful hub, I am going to share it!

K9


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

K9 - with the right intervention, they will become great contributors to society.. but we do need specialist education in order to cater for their needs and teach them what most people take for granted - social intelligence. I am delighted that your brother in law has managed to work through and is achieving - it fills me with hope x


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Thanks for sharing. It is quite possible for people afflicted to have a great life, but it takes work. I applaud your dedication.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Steveomc - There are lots to celebrate the genius of asperger's syndrome - we just need to help them with the social aspects and for Dan, a specialist college education is the key. I hope this story - which targets lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds - will help them find a way to help their children. Thanks for reading, but when you are a mother - there is no choice in the dedication aspect.


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 6 years ago

My cousin is in his 50's and has Aspergers-Syndrome, but it was hidden from the family for years and years. He is very functional. He completed tech school and he has been with the same company since he graduated.

This is an excellent article, you care so deeply. I do hope this article reaches the masses as it should!

j.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Jane - It is incredibly important that this type of information gets out there... I have two other articles that will cover the same but in different ways. I hope that I target professionals, ordinary people and the politicans to invoke change so as families like mine can get help.

High functioning autism, like Asperger's syndrome, often lead to successful people - obsessive yes - but successful. That is if they are caught early enough. Fingers crossed for my Dan :)


leni sands profile image

leni sands 6 years ago from UK

Reading this reminded me of when I worked with children with Aspergers and Autism, a job I thorough enjoyed - these children taught me so much. One thing that I have always appreciated is the sheer hard work, dedication and determination of the mothers of these children, with that added - obsessiveness that is so needed in these cases. You are amazing, as are most of the mothers I have worked with, mainly in order to get their children properly diagnosed as being actually on the autistic spectrum so that they can get the support that they need. You have worked hard and I will be following your progress with some interest. Thanks for sharing this hub. I look forward to reading more.


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

My sister's son has similar problems, not 100% sure of the exact diagnosis, I will have to point her in the direction of your hub..


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Leni - Us mothers appreciate the care and input from people like you. It is just incredibly difficult to get access to your type of dedication. The system has been set up to makes us perform and jump through hoops to get the help we need. Why leave the service when you obviously are an asset to it?

Much appreciate your comment:)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Leanman - I have an article to answer this question for people like your sister. It is called 'Do you think your child has asperger's syndrome? Which way now?'

http://hubpages.com/health/Do-You-Think-Your-Child...


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

This series on Aspergers syndrome is so eyeopening and I have said before I admire you strength and determination with Dan and finding the very best for him. You desire to help others in similar situations just speaks volumes for you. I have no doubt these three hubs and your others, your A Store will all serve to make it a better place for those in similar situations. It is appropriate the John Lennon's 70th is coming up. :)


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain Author

Billy... you know so much about me from my articles. Yes, far beyond the realms of money, I have a deep desire to help make a change. If people can have an easier time in these situations, then my pain is worth it.

All experiences are positive - you have to make it so! If I have helped 1 person in the same situation, then my efforts have not been wasted. Better that I have helped thousands though! lol

Thanks for supporting me.


thewritingowl profile image

thewritingowl 4 years ago from Ireland

Great article again. I feel your pain literally. Adam is still in Early Intervention now but next year I will have to sort out a school for him and I am dreading it, I have no idea whether mainstream should be an option or not. Here in Ireland too you have to be everything for your autistic child, nobody ever knows or will never tell you what your child might be entitled to so that too many parents aren't eating into the non-existent budget looking for it. Don't even know if there are any colleges for ASD kids in Ireland? When the time comes I suppose I will become an expert on it and be writing mad on the topic! Its great that you got him in and I hope he is doing well there. Wish there had been such a thing when I was younger too. You were right to enroll him there. I dropped out of mainstream college myself because it was all too much for me. Keep up the good fight I know how exhausting and draining it is.


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 4 years ago from Great Britain Author

Hi WritingOwl,

Dan is 18 years old now. He is making progress and is in an independent transitional unit for Asperger's young adults, still within Farleigh. It is hoped he will go to university next year and he is starting to get relationships - he has just recently got a girlfriend - miracles, eh?

Now he is of age, I am having to step back. The story continues but as long as he does no harm, cause no loss or injury, I will be pleased.

Keep the love and strive for the faith that all will make good.

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