My twins’ school is GREAT. For neurotypical kids it’s downright perfect and for kids with mild special needs it’s also really a nice program. We love it, we won’t want to leave…. for what it OFFERS, it’s the best around and the people are so friendly and helpful and wonderful.
It doesn’t offer true ABA— no public school around here does. It doesn’t offer super intense behavior therapy. It DOES offer an autism class with a varied approach, but the teacher (Fred is in that class– it’s his teacher) has a VERY laid back approach to potty training. She feels the students will do it when they’re ready. Calm down, he’ll be trained by the time he’s 30. A very valid approach and I appreciate her point of view. However, I want Fred sledgehammered more than that. I need someone at school to do more than simply sit him on the potty and watch him NOT do anything in it and wet his pullup. I want ABA to be part of his routine (even if it’s not the end-all be-all of the approach to teaching him). There are five boys in his class. As far as I know, none are potty trained, and only two (Fred included) are verbal. What I would LOVE is a class in which there are potty trained kids for him to emulate, verbal kids for him to emulate, AND a more ABA – based approach. MOST private ABA – based programs around here are out of reach financially. But this week I found one that would be free. EXCEPT— we’d be giving up public school completely and enrolling him solely in the ABA-based program which means we’d be taking a $20,000 scholarship and getting nothing for free from the district. It’s a tough decision. I’ll be seriously looking at the program next week. The scholarship ($20,000) would completely pay for the program and he’d get his OT and ST as part of the program as well as ABA. I don’t CARE if he can hold scissors or a pencil correctly (his OT at public school does)—- *I* care that he starts to have life skills necessary to (eventually) mainstream back into a neurotypical classroom. *I* want OT to be working on pulling down pants, buttoning and unbuttoning pants buttons, VOIDING in the toilet rather than just sitting there (a TOUGH one, but one that CAN and SHOULD be done in school!). Above all, I want potty training goals in his IEP. The school doesn’t want to put them in there. I’ve been told to push and fight the school. I hate being THAT kind of parent. Meeting with the current school on November 14th to start talking about IEP goals and options for next year.
As far as Wilma goes, I’m BASICALLY happy with her placement— she does okay in a mixed class of half neurotypical kids and half special ed kids. BUT— I don’t know which kindergartens in our district offer that mix or IF any do. If she’s not toilet trained by kindergarten, will she need to go into a self contained class? If so, I may as well pull HER out and put HER in the ABA program too. At any rate, if I do pull him, I’ll probably pull her too—- their separate schedules this year are already driving me batty and it’s only November. If they both go to the ABA based school, they’ll BOTH be there from 9:30 to 2:30. (I sense a workout, a manicure, a nap, some scrapbooking, and oh yeah— SOME *WORK* time in my future if I decide to go this route…..). Does she NEED ABA? In my opinion, not even half as much as her brother. BUT— the center for autism has in writing that she needs it, so she’ll certainly get into the program… if she were my only child I don’t think I’d be concerned right now. But I would still be fighting for potty training goals in her IEP too. She’s potty conditioned now for certain. *I* put her on the potty once an hour. She pees. If *I* don’t put her on in time, she simply wets herself. Pullup, underpants, whatever— she doesn’t care— in fact, she thinks it’s funny. “look mommy, I wet myself, ha ha ha”. Consequences don’t matter. Bribes don’t matter. Trying to get more independence from her, but at least I can keep her dry at home (no success at school yet). NO success with #2 yet. But still, she’s light years ahead of her brother who sits on the potty saying ‘I will NOT make in the potty”!
Private ABA- based school? Public school? TOUGH decision. If my kids were neurotypical, they’d be in a private Orthodox Jewish day school. Where we live that isn’t an option for kids on the spectrum unless they’re toilet trained and can be mainstreamed with an aide. (Years from now, maybe. for now? nope).
What’s right for my kids? When I thought all ABA based programs were financially out of reach it was an easy decision. Now that I have more knowledge it’s a tougher one. Wish me luck!