Ryan Goes to Preschool
Ryan is four years old, and today will be his first day at the Learning Together Children’s Center. Ryan has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and has received several in-home therapies (speech therapy, occupational therapy, and consultation for behavior management). This is his first day in a group setting. Ryan is an only child, and his mother, Carmen, has been anxious for him to have experiences with children without disabilities. However, she also has concerns about the challenges he may face.
As is common for children on the autism spectrum, Ryan has significantly delayed speech and language skills. He uses spoken language only to request favorite foods (Cheerios and french fries) and to express resistance or rejection by saying “No no no.” He has also had a history of severe temper tantrums, but, with the assistance of a behavior specialist, these outbursts have become rare.
Despite her son’s challenges, Carmen believes Ryan is very smart. He can use his iPad and other electronic devices much better than she can. And he already recognizes the letters of the alphabet. He plays with plastic letters, and can point to the correct letters when Carmen names them. Carmen is convinced he is ready for school.
On Ryan’s first day, Carmen is anxious, but confident that this will be a great experience for Ryan. Ryan seemed to sense Carmen’s positive anticipation, and was smiling as he noticed the huge letters above the school entryway. As they enter the busy classroom, Ryan immediately pulls away and runs back out the door. Carmen did not expect this.
1. What might explain Ryan’s running away?