We have decided to try a middle school recommended at the IEP meeting.
Note: Many people have suggested homeschooling or private school. I toured several private schools in our county, and many have wonderful programs for children with autism, combining behavioral therapy with academics.
As appealing as those options sound, they’re not feasible in our case at the present time.
My husband and I both work. We have more than one child. Pulling our child out of public school and driving him twice daily, paying a great deal out of pocket in private school fees, or supervising/entertaining/educating/socializing him every day is a tall order that adds unbearable strain to a family already stressed to our limits. “Just —-” isn’t as simple as it sounds.
So when we scheduled an emergency IEP meeting, it was with the intention of sending our child to a school with strong leadership, effective communication and positive culture for students with special needs.
In essence, where his IEP would be communicated and implemented.
In the meeting, despite pressure to return our son to his original school–from where he was institutionalized–we stood firm that this is not a safe option for him and unacceptable to us. We have zero confidence in administration after what our family endured.
Essentially, the arguments for “meeting kids in the neighborhood” rang hollow for us.
A principal of a neighboring middle school attended this meeting (it’s like they knew we wouldn’t consider returning him to the original school!) and explained in detail how her particular school would accommodate my son.
(So the team defined his needs and then the school will work to meet them, instead of trying to make my son fit into a system)
In the meeting, it was suggested we meet with teachers and staff ahead of time.
I couldn’t help but explain the numerous efforts we had made to do so at his previous school but we had been told that was too hard to accommodate.
In this meeting, we were affirmed in our reasonable request and received an apology that we hadn’t been accommodated.
We emphasized that he will make triggering statements again, that he will continue to engage in self injurious behavior, and that we are deeply worried we will end up with our child institutionalized again.
As a result, we put in his IEP that he is not to have the school resource officer become one of his preferred persons at school. We added in extra behavior supports. We have new assessments scheduled to better teach and support our child as he learns how to transition and how to cope with stress.
I have also added a non-consent form to each of my children’s file. More on that later.
This meeting was 3 hours long, and did not include rehashing the past incident. We remained focused on putting in place accommodations that will allow our child to be successful and to thrive.
Following the IEP , we drove our son to the new school.
The principal was waiting for us! She had guidance, administrators, and the friendliest 8th grader I have ever had the pleasure of meeting to greet us and give us a tour after school ended for the day.
They were friendly, kind and gentle. They showed our child many options for where to eat lunch, how to ask for help, and which hallways would be the least crowded.
He received his school planner and learned how to assemble his binder.
They plan to have him attend school the first day and just spend time with guidance and administrators, getting acclimated to the sounds and sensory stimuli of the school. They have art for him to do and will allow him to desensitize at his own pace.
They are planning to add one class at a time each day to break him in gently.
Their kindness and sensitivity to us brings me to tears.
We realize this is a long road but we are committed to supporting our child and to advocating for his quality of life.
We still have legal aspects to handle, but our primary goal was to get our child into an appropriate, safe educational program as quickly as possible.