Friday, September 03, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivery on Tuesday.

So we signed all the paperwork to make sure there is always someone in the room in case Joey attempts to escape it. They kept not wanting to have a para with him in specials (art, music, etc.), but I won't have it these first few weeks. "They can lock the door" is not an acceptable answer. You expect the teacher to deal with the meltdown when he finds that door locked? What if there is a fire? The tradeoff is that for the same first few weeks, he will be self-contained half the day, so he can be in small groups or 1:1 instruction while he transitions. We'll start moving him back into the inclusion room after a few weeks.

Then, unbeknownst to them unless they read this blog, I am going to start asking questions about LRE and moving him into "regular" classrooms. Because you know what? That is where we was before. The sped-centered environment is a step backward, a regression from being with his non-disabled peers in supportive environments. Our school system fills "inclusion rooms" with kids who are borderline for services as their "non-disabled" kids- kids that really should need service, but they have issues of clear documentation of needs, because they don't have a "25% delay" in anything specific and measurable.

Andy is a great kid for an inclusion room. He has speech issues that are being otherwise ignored, he had focus and attention issues that are met by the structure required in inclusion environments even though he is technically not receiving accommodation or service, yet he has the academic and social skill strengths to really support his classmates, as well as experience with disabled peers. To push him into a faster-paced, distraction-filled environment would really... well, prove he has issues.

Yet it is into that "mainstream" that both boys must eventually go, like it or not. One day, they will graduate. The world is not full of special needs classrooms.

And you know what? I want those kids in "mainstream" and "regular" classrooms to have to meet and cope with people like Joey and Andy. They need to learn what it means to be tolerant, to appreciate people's strengths and talents, and to therefore appreciate their own foibles, their own talents, their own abilities- to learn what it really means to live in a positive, constructive community.

On Tuesday, Joey will start school with a lot of quiet spaces and an ever-present lifeguard. Andy will start in a structured room with only 15 classmates. Here's hoping everybody- including you- has a fabulous year. Happy Fall!


farmwifetwo said...

A year ago I would have swore the same "Inclusion or bust".. We had a good EA, we were to have the same teacher as in gr 2 in Gr 3 and the kids were wonderful with him... Then we got crappy teacher #2... then we got what we weren't promised once more...

Inclusion is wonderful, when it works... Inclusion is a waste of time for your child when it doesn't. I view it this way, he's entitled to an education until he's 21 yrs old... 3yrs in spec ed catching up... B/c IEP'd he has to be educated at his level which is above their's and if it doesn't happen he'll be out at the end of the year and we'll deal with inclusion once more... (I'll know, and they know I will since I do extra at home) BUT, at the same time we need special services that a regular classroom cannot supply - time to talk, time to work on expressive language (oral and written) - and this classroom has this as one of her main skills she works on.

People learn at various rates and actually learn a lot in a short span of time... teaching my eldest the full Gr 3 math curriculum in a summer... You don't need 8mths to do it in.

The goal is to go back a grade when we return at the end of Gr 6(or earlier)... Want to listen to that fight at that meeting ::evil grin:: Again, this is his education and I want him educated not pushed through.

Since, in highschool they rarely put children like ours in a regular stream I suspect we'll be homeschooling. Now, if they surprise me and I get an EA (doubtful) we'll integrate... But I suspect we're only in the regular system until Gr 8.

Pushing him through, he'll be in self contained by highschool... You know it, I know it... They WILL NOT put in aides they will demand he's "trained"... Going back a little, to come ahead a lot (depends on the classroom, I had 2 local classrooms and a farther away ASD one to choose from and this was the only one I would accept and I didn't have to accept any even the day I signed the paperwork)... Is it worth a full time regular classroom??? The older he gets, the more segregated he becomes... you can't stop it.

The Teacher and I were emailing yesterday... He's mainstreamed for music and gym and best part, the new music teacher is the one from his old school - he loves her, she's AMAZING!!... So, that classroom (they all have a different class of their own for their mainstreamed classes) will be his yard peer buddies... The teacher's are already discussing it. This school, special ed isn't stuck in a corner and ignored... even if they have their own room.

Joeymom said...

Here, by law, children must be placed in the "least restrictive environment." In other words, if they can be placed in a mainstream classroom with an aide, the school is supposed to do that. Going from a mainstreamed environment back to a self-contained environment is a documentable regression- we have gone from a less restrictive environment back to a more restrictive environment.

One thing I have been promised (I'll keep you posted), that Summer Scholars is a no-go for next summer; they will have to come up with something actually appropriate for him.

Stimey said...

Good luck on Tuesday!!! I will be thinking of you!

Niksmom said...

Sending good thoughts your way, Mama Bear! xo

Ha! My word ver is "behedds"! I hope you don't have to behedd/behead anyone on Tuesday!

Amanda said...

I have two distinct memories of my high school senior year. The first is of the funeral of classmate Jimmy; he'd been mainstreamed until junior high, at which point he'd been segregated. He was slower-- probably a 70 or so IQ (based on what I know from my mom's foster kids)-- but he was cheerful and sweet. I even went to a kid's dance with him as friends. Sure, I got made fun of a bit for being his friend, but others got teased for "normal" frienships at that age, so it didn't bother me too much. He got called names a lot, though, even by his family. I hardly saw him after he entered the SpEd system, even though he was paralleling me grade-wise. Everything, even gym, was separate. Two months before graduation they made an announcement that he had committed suicide by driving in front of a train. I found out his girlfriend had called him a "retard" and broken off their engagement. With no support system (his family was in wife-beaters and jeans at his funeral) he was crushed beyond repair. I was the only non-SpEd peer at his funeral, even though we'd all spent the last 6-12 years in the same school. We all knew Jimmy.
The second memory I have is of the night of graduation. While it was difficult to watch his mother accept Jimmy's diploma, my classmates had perhaps learned something, or perhaps different approaches did mean something. Betsey was 21 and severely mentally retarded. She was a little girl in a cute, chubby woman's body. She had been a constant presence, stuck in the back of every classroom in the building at some point while the school shuffled her around until she aged out (clearly at some point they decided that trying to help her really learn was moot, so they might as well socialize her, or maybe she just had a proactive parent). She was sweet and the teachers did not mind, and even if people spoke behind her back, they never did to her face. When they gave her a diploma at graduation we all knew it didn't really mean she had "graduated"-- but she got a standing ovation from my entire graduating class as she walked, beaming, across that stage.

This was more than 15 years ago, and so much more support is in place now than ever was. I'm glad he's got a better system and a great advocate.
But I never forgot that lesson. Kids learn what they see adults do. Push kids aside because they are not "normal"= forget them. Tolerate, support= do the same. You're right-- while Joey shouldn't be uncomfortable, his impact on the other students should also be weighed as a factor. I can't wait to introduce Mordecai to two such amazing boys as you have.
A up here

Amanda said...

And btw-- I know that Joey and Andy are neither one mentally handicapped the way my two classmates were. But once you say SpEd in an educational setting, the peers and teachers have a particular view and a particular method of dealing, and I think actual intelligence/capacity for learning is not going to be factored as highly as it should.

Joeymom said...

It is possible that your friend Jimmy wasn't, either. Even when Joey was diagnosed, it was still thought that 75% of autistic kids were intellectually challenged- because they had trouble with speech and communication. WE now know that is not the case.

It doesn't seem to stop mean people from calling Joey a retard on the playground or at the pool.

Amanda said...

That's very true. Whatever happened, he was failed by the system, his family, and his "normal" classmates. I hope those mean people at the pool or playground learn their lesson in a not-so-harsh way-- but I hope they learn it soon.