On April 2, 2016, I interviewed my aunt, XXXXX, about the benefits my cousin, XXXXX, received through Head Start while he attended preschool from 2009 through 2012 (personal communication). In 2009, XXXXX was a 37 year old, white mother of four who worked from home as an actuarial technician for Medical Protective, where she works currently. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University in 1995. Her children, at the time ages 9, 7, 5, and 3 (now ages 16, 14, 11, and 9) lived with her and their father, XX, in West Chester, Ohio, where they were involved in sports, music, and theatre in the community, and attended the local Methodist church. XXX and her family have always been particularly close with XXX’s parents (my grandparents) in Beavercreek, Ohio, who they visit on a regular basis. XX has his Master’s degree in education and works as a high school teacher, both currently and in 2009. He now has partial custody of the children after he and XXX separated in 2014. XXXXs boyfriend currently lives in the household, along with his daughter, age 18, who spends time there while not with her mom. Although the family has always enjoyed an upper middle class lifestyle, money has been more stressful since XXXX and XX separated.
Their son XXX was born on September 19, 2006 (N. C. XXXX, personal communication, April 2, 2016). Although in perfect physical health, he has autism spectrum disorder, and cannot speak verbally. Although the transition from Help Me Grow to Head Start was seamless, XXX commented that his first year of preschool was difficult because he did not have an official diagnosis yet. She said that doctors do not typically want to diagnose children with autism until they are close to 4 years old, when some children overcome prior developmental challenges. Her son was put into a class that was made up of half developmentally typical children, and half children with special needs. XXX felt that his teacher was underqualified to work with him because his developmental disabilities were significantly more severe than those of his peers.
Before XX started his second year of preschool, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder through the Autism Center of Butler County (N. C. XXX, personal communication, April 2, 2016). Although learning that her child had autism was difficult, the official diagnoses made more services available to XX and the family.
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