My daughter started her therapeutic schools at 3 and not long into the first year she was in she stated that she had "failed" her other school. We don't know how she determined it as a failure but it was amazing to us that she had that much recognition. After a short time the echolalic behavior gave way to better if still limited ways of expression.
She was the highest functioning of the 8 children in her class and was able to understand all of them, including a boy who had no language skills at all. She was able to determine by the sound of his moans what it was he was trying to express. It always seemed to help either the teachers or the school bus attendant.
She was also able to reach through other kids on a social level in one odd way or another. But it was always her that was the channel to these breakthroughs.
I won't get into the vagaries every kid and story, or the atrocious and ridiculous behavior of many of the parents I encountered. What matters is that through it all, my daughter had a keen sense of wanting to break through what she had.
She continued to gaze transfixed into any reflective surface we passed by. Windows were mirrors rather than a way to see the world outside. We would visit for playdates with kids in her class and the other parents would remark that she didn't seem to need to be in that school. I would tell them to watch what would happen once she passed a mirror.
But as each year passed, each school she went to until we mainstreamed her in 3rd Grade, her progress was remarkable. Much of this is due to the efforts and research of her mother, who now is a teacher in a special ed pre school, but in no small part it is due to my daughter's willingness to break through in some way or another.
By the time my daughter was 10 or 11, the term Asperger's Syndrome came further into mainstream focus and S was evaluated as being in a higher functioning part of that spectrum.
Now, as I have said, she is among the first wave of Aspys going to college and she is struggling to prove herself not only capable but able to thrive.
Each stumble that she has made in her life was always followed by a period of success. I know that's what she's heading toward now.
I wish she didn't take her stumbles as hard as she tends to, but maybe that's part of what drives her as well. Her pioneering efforts.