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My sweet little boy started preschool when he was three. He didn’t talk. He didn’t play with other children. He didn’t follow directions. He liked “circle time,” the songs, the praise, the routine, but it was hard for him to sit that long (a whopping five minutes). He was categorized as a “preschooler with a disability” at that time. It would be another three years before we knew to call it “autism” if he was going to continue to receive support at school.

Ready for Middle School
That little darling is now a sixth grader. He reads at grade level, he bikes to school and back with some other neighborhood kids, and he’s as tall as I am. A lot has changed in the intervening years.

He’s worked tremendously hard and made a lot of good progress toward understanding his world…and now his world is going to change…profoundly.

We all know what’s going to happen. As adults, we tend to remember these next few years as the most unforgiving, brutal years of our childhoods. We remember the kids who were tormented at school for being: too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too emotional, not emotional enough, having too many freckles or too few, having ears/noses/teeth that stuck out…the list of characteristics that can cause social devastation goes on and on. And most of the time, we don’t even think about whether those kids we remember had special needs.

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Kate Dran is a user experience analyst, professional writer, autism advocate and parent of 2 beautiful and perfect sons, one with autism, one developing typically. She founded Adaptive Solutions Analysis, LLC , a private consulting firm that provides usability assessments and user experience analysis for adaptive technologies that support the cognitive, sensory and motor development needs of K-12 students with autism. She believes that autism-friendly user experience is human-friendly user experience.