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!