What should I do about Sunday school?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-16-2003
What should I do about Sunday school?
Sun, 09-21-2003 - 7:48pm
We started Sunday school about 3 weeks ago, and Harry is having a really difficult time with it. It has all the ingredients for disaster--lots of kids he doesn't know, having to transition many times in a short period of time, noisy and unfamiliar room. Today I got spit on, scratched and hit with a book. Guess he is not happy there!

I LOVE my church, and have taught Sunday school for several years. I had lots of discussions with the Director of Religious Education last year about Harry's special needs, and she was very supportive. Unfortunately she left and we have a new religious education director. Last year Harry was enrolled in the kindergarten class even though he was in preschool, and I was one of the teachers part of the year. The kindergarten class was more structured and met a shorter amount of time than the pre-K. Of course, he reads and is really bright so he did pretty well last year, especially with mom there and a great college student who was helping out.

This year, I kept him in the kindergarten class which means a whole new group of kids but they are his peers. They are noisy, busy but a nice group of children. I wanted him to be with his peers, thinking down the line when he is a teenager I would not want him to be the youngest.

I'm thinking of putting him in the 1st grade class with his old friends. It has less children, they are more cooperative and mature, and the teachers already know him. And being an Aspie, he does seem to do better with older children. BUT what am I gonna do when he's a teen? Should I go with what is best for him NOW? I know its only Sunday school, but I have a feeling this is not the first time I'll have to manage his environment and social circle! What should I do????


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 09-22-2003 - 12:14am
Honestly, I would switch him to the older class. It is only 1 year older and it seems more than the age, the children are a better match for him. As he gets older you will be teaching him more social skills and how to adapt better with peers. His peers will also be more mature and not sending his sensory system into overload.

I am "helping" in a 1st grade Sunday School class this year and we have a very active class. There are a number of children with needs and many are very active. One is a friends son with PDD. This boy usually does great, but in this situation he will melt down and not do as well as he can. If we can not get a handle on the class better his mom will probably change him as well I and suggested it. We are trying some new modifications next week, but it takes everything both of us have that are working in the class and we both are teachers with lots of experience with special needs.

Good Luck.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-05-1998
Mon, 09-22-2003 - 9:15am
I was the "teacher's aide" for Christopher's religious education class from kindergarten through third grade. My actual role was to provide back-up support for Chris, but the other kids didn't know that, and I had enough Sunday School background that I was also the substitute teacher if the regular teacher couldn't make it.

Last year, in fourth grade, Chris finally told me that he didn't need me in class, that he could handle it without me. His teachers know about his AS, though, and if he's having a difficult time in class, they know that they can find me in the parish hall to take him off their hands if necessary.

I think I'd put your son in the class where he's more likely to have a successful experience, which would be the first grade class. Make sure that his teacher know about his special needs, and offer to help if needed.

Good luck.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2003
Mon, 09-22-2003 - 11:53pm
Well, here's my 2 cents. Most people will probably see it differently than I do, so be warned. WARNING, INCOMING TIRADE: (said with a light hearted smile)

The first hing I would have to ask is for you ask yourself "What is a peer?". Is a peer someone who is the exact same age as you? Is it someone who shares the same level of maturity? Is is someone who sees the world the way you do or from the same persepective? Is it someone who is at least somewhat equal to you in authority? All of these can be used as deffinitions for the word 'peer'. Now ask yourself "In 20 years what is going to deffine what a peer is to my son?"

I do see what your point is about the teen years, but here's something most people seem to overlook. We only spend the first 20 years of our lives as children, the other 60 is spent as adults. The way I see it, it is my job too insure that my children will be succesfull adults, bot sucessful teens, tweens, or younger children. I look at my own relationships and see that only 1 in 20 of the people I even *know* are about my age (birthdays within 12 months of mine) much less my friends.

My husband is 8.5 years older than me. We have had many a discussion over what life would have been like if we had met as children. We keep coming back to the same conclusion.....we wouldn't have even liked each other much less have been friends. When he was 16 I was 7. And my best friend other than DH is 11 years older than me. I have one good friend who is my age peer, just one.

My dd, Jade, is the lowest functioning person in my family and I have never pushed her to associate with girls her own age. If she finds someone her age she wants to play with, fine, but I don't put her in classes based on the age level of the kids enrolled. She will be taking gymnastics this year and she will not be in the 9-10 group. After talking to the director of the gym we agreed to put her in the 5-6 group. Why? B/c that is what she can handle in that situation. But, on the other hand, she is a member of an astronomical society of which she is the youngest member...by far. The next oldest member is 23. She gets along just fine with Brian, her sponsor, and the other freshman members of his group. She doesn't see Brian as a teacher or an authority figure, she sees him as a peer. She can sit down and talk to him about stellar phenominon and not have to worry that he doesn't understand her. And to boot, he is impressed that SHE understands HIM. He has remarked about not having to slow down and explain words to her or give quick lessons in direction finding (LOL, okay, at least not for her). But the number one thing that has taken him by suprise is that when they break for coffee she doesn't swarm to the coffee table like the others do, she's only 9, she's not allowed to drink coffee. So she brings her own hot coco in a thermus. He says its at those times he has to stop and go "Oh yeah, she's not a midget, she's a child."

Her PhD has also remarked that she has made significant progress in her social/verbal skills since we stopped letting poeple convince us that she should be around her 'peers'. She has made so much pregress in fact that he's worried she won't score low enough on her up comming re-eval to quallify for social skills therapy. Truth is, I really don't think she needs it. She still has areas she needs to work on, but hey, she's only 9, we have plenty of time. She isn't going to only be friends with other 23--24 yos when shes 23, why should she be largely restricted to 9-10 yos now? Her best friend is 15, and I don't think either of us would have it any other way.

I say, put your ds in the 1st grade class. If that's where he's happy why restrict him from it? And on the note of being a teen, my best friend in high school was 3 years older than me, my boyfriend was 5 years older, and my second best friend was 2 years younger than me. Being a teen is hard for everyone, but one of the reasons for this is b/c this is the point where people start to realize "Oh hey, I don't have to just be friends with other 14yos. I can be friends with a senior if I want too."

Okay, feel free to shove me back in my box now, LOL. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my tirade. But the whole 'peer' thing is one of my pet peeves. I couldn't imagine a world where I, as an adult, was largely restricted to sicializing with other 31 yos. I'd go crazy.