About a month after Jackson's official diagnosis of mild autism, I finally decided to have a meeting with his preschool teacher to let her know. I debated for a long time about whether or not to tell the preschool for two reasons.
For one, I didn't want him to be treated differently. Of course, they were already allowing him to do some things that other kids weren't allowed to do (bring in his own sippy cup instead of having to drink out of a straw-which he can't do, bring in his own bananas for snack time since he is extremely picky about his food, etc) but I didn't want them to give up on him. I didn't want them to think, "well, he has autism, he can't do that anyway so we won't even try."
But my biggest fear came from reading other parents' stories. I've read many blogs and stories on other forums where children were kicked out of their preschool once they found out the child had autism because the preschool claimed they did not have the training or facilities to deal with an autistic child.
On one hand, I know that it can sometimes be very hard (or at least emotionally draining) to deal with an autistic child, but I also wanted him in that school. The whole reason I put him in preschool is because I wanted him to be in a social situation a few times a week without me, hoping that it would spark in him some need to communicate. The reason we picked that specific school was because he immediately liked his teacher when we met her (and he does not easily accept other people, especially adults). Plus it had taken weeks to transition him so that he was only crying for about 5 minutes when I dropped him off, as opposed to crying the entire school day.
So I was nervous about the meeting, but I thought, "This is a Christian preschool. They claim that this is their ministry, so surely they wouldn't kick him out." But doubt still nagged at me.
I met with his teacher and the preschool coordinator (who is also my bible study leader). They were so nice, and so supportive. When I started to tear up, they both hugged me, which of course made me really start to cry! They told me that they didn't have degrees or any special needs training, but that they had worked with autistic children before and they would do anything to help that they could.
I did not realize how much I was worried about them rejecting my son until that burden was lifted. I felt so light and happy the rest of the day. And when I went to pick Jackson up from school that day, they gave me a shirt that says, "Jesus loves children with autism and so do we."
I am so thankful that we found this preschool and so thankful that these women are in our lives! They have been so helpful. They welcome our therapist into their school and are working with her to make the classroom environment better for Jackson. They are working on using a picture schedule with him to help him with transitions, and are encouraging the other students to play with Jackson and to share with him. Now instead of crying when I drop him off, he is so excited that he (literally) runs into the school and to his classroom with a big smile on his face for his teacher. I could not have imagined a better place for him!