Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hi ho, Hi ho...School Daze

So there is a school out here for kids on the spectrum, and when we first heard about it after our IEP, we set about trying to figure out how to get the rooster in so he could get one-stop-shopping for all his PT/OT/speech needs (despite the school's geographic undesirability). Then, we met with the developmental pediatrician, who cautioned us that the environment at this special school might be too restrictive for our boy. His issues, though numerous and challenging, are never the ones that make the top 20 list on brochures and autism checklists, and he desperately needs to learn verbal pragmatics, so she told us that a social group of less verbal kids could result in the rooster actually struggling more to communicate effectively.

So then we set about trying to figure out how to keep the rooster in place and cobble together a variety of pull-outs, after school and weekend interventions, etc. We made calls, researched our options, investigated. That happened just as the rooster began really deteriorating in his behavior, and he got sent home from school for losing his cool.

So then we decided to go see the special school for ourselves. My husband told the tour leader his dilemma. "This is a wonderful place, but our developmental pediatrician said the rooster is the kind of kid who needs the least restrictive environment so that he strives to meet his language goals." The woman giving the tour guide gently and kindly tried a little Doctor Phil, and while I'm no Phil fan, it helped us realize that it ain't working for us right now. She said, "If your son has a really rich curriculum where he is, but he can't access it because of behavior is so disregulated, then it is not meeting his needs, is it?"

We still have many decisions to weigh and battles to fight, but I think we might have found a good place for our boy at this special school. Maybe not for always, but maybe for now. In some ways I can see where a special school could be "restrictive," but in a way it also feels just the opposite, too. It could open a world of ABA, OT, and much more that he can't get where he is now.

While on the tour, a boy with a roosterish quality caught my husband's eye and waved, smiled. He was having fun and learning on a typical school day. A teacher walked by pushing a cart full of drums, shakers, noise makers. The faculty sparkled with energy. Kids got their needs met. I don't know, but that doesn't sound too restrictive, does it? Does it? I'm a teacher, so you'd think I would know, but I'm asking.


Joeymom said...

Certainly I would think hard about this school- if it felt like a good fit, you may want to try it.

We looked into several schools for Joey, and were disappointed. Most of the schools were geared to children who were entirely different from Joey- children with far more severe social issues, academic issues, and even mobility issues. It all felt wrong. We went with that feeling, and have kept him here, and done our best.

If you are feeling really good about this school, I think you should try it. You can always take him out if his frustration increases; and it would be a good thing if his frustration decreases.

How much will it cost?

Niksmom said...

Well, the tour guide's Dr. Phil question is sort of (in a very small nutshell) why we pulled Nik OUT of school in September. He was so incredibly dysregulated that he couldn't begin to access any of the positive attributes available. There were other factors, too, of course. My point is...TRUST YOUR GUT. Even if you're not 100% certain. Now is the time to really tune in to your instincts with Rooster b/c there will ALWAYS be twelve different opinions on the same thing. YOURS is what matters here.

PBear said...

I agree with the tour guide too - if he's not able to get anything out of his less restrictive school, then what's the point? And as you said, it's not like it's a life-long commitment. The residential school we have here for autistic spectrum kids focuses on getting them to the point where they can return to a less-restrictive setting - but able to regulate themselves and deal with the world so that they can benefit from it.

Your next challenge of course will be getting the school district to see it that way, so they'll pay for it. :-)


redheadmomma said...

I think something that trips us parents up is that we feel that we have to get it all right on the first try. And we don't. It's all such a journey - and we all evolve - ourselves, our children, the specialists, the facilities. So if it feels right to you now, go for it! No one has the Rooster's back better than his parents.