By: Melissa Cossette
My son Ryder was an early entrant to preschool at the age of 3 which was recommended by his clinician just after he was diagnosed with severe level 3 Autism, Global Developmental Delay and ADHD.
The school offered more options for children with disabilities and was 30 minutes away from home. I agreed to drive him to school every day, and we enrolled him. Ryder is now finishing up his second year of pre-K and getting ready for kindergarten. Numerous people and professionals have been involved in preparing Ryder for this change, but all of this progress abruptly ended when I received a call from the principal saying that because we were not local, Ryder would not be allowed to continue in their district. No explanation or reasoning behind why all of a sudden he could no longer attend— just simply, no.
This was a shock. With all the planning we had already accomplished, we wanted to keep him in a familiar environment because Ryder doesn’t do well with change. As many with autism, he thrives on routine and consistency, and when things change, he can’t process them, and this quickly becomes a big problem. He cries, yells, hits his head on things, bites, and becomes aggressive.
Of course, I was angry and fought the system. I did everything I could but nothing changed. And so defeatedly, we enrolled him in another school despite knowing how hard this would be for him. We desperately wanted him to stay in the current school district that he loved; so desperate that we looked into purchasing a home in the area but just couldn’t make it work.
Our hands were tied, but sometimes there is a silver lining. It turns out that the new school is beautiful, welcoming, and supportive. They are excited to have Ryder in the fall, and now we are preparing him for the change that’s coming up quickly, but no matter how much we prepare, it will take an adjustment period before he’s comfortable. We will get there, but why put our kids through this torture? Especially if we don’t have to. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it makes sense to many parents who have children with autism.
Melissa Cossette is mom to Ryder and Zaeden. She lives in a small town called Findlater Saskatchewan Canada. She was a CCA (nurses aide) for 15 years up until her youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Now she is a full-time stay-at-home Mom and loves it.