My mom friends of neurotypical kids have all chosen their kids’ schools for next year. My mom friends of MOST special needs kids have all had their kids placed for next year, whether in a Jewish school with a one on one aide, or in an appropriate public school class.
Our school district has autism units, multi-handicapped rooms, mainstream classrooms, and not much else. For preschool, Wilma was in an integrated program with half neurotypical kids and half special needs kids. That’s truly where she should remain for kindergarten. From what I’m gathering, there hasn’t been a program like that for kindergarteners. Special needs kids were either mainstreamable, or put in an autism unit or MH class. So they’ve been thinking about and talking about starting a program like that for kindergarteners. But it depends on money. And enrollment. And the price of tea in China. Meanwhile, it’s mid May and though my twins have finished the ETR process, there has been no transition meeting yet and no placement. I got an email today in response to my (rather pushy) email saying that they’re still deciding, nothing is certain yet. It’s mid May.
Fred was in all three programs during the course of preschool— an MH class, then an integrated class (where he proceeded to bite EVERY student in the room over the course of the year, then an autism unit. If he’s placed in an autism unit, he’ll be one of the higher functioning kids— he’s verbal and toilet training. If he’s placed in an integrated class, he’s going to need a lot of extra assistance to make sure the structure of the class doesn’t completely overwhelm him (more than a few kids in the room and he turns into the tazmanian devil when his personal space is threatened). I’m okay with them putting him in an integrated class to try it out. Problem is that *IF* they do create this new integrated kindergarten in our district, it may just be ONE class, forcing Fred and Wilma to be in the same room. That’s a WHOLEEEE other blog post. However, I’m willing to try. I just want to KNOW already. Where are you putting my kids. WHO will their teachers be. What school? What hours? I want to know for certain that next year I won’t be meeting the school bus outside four times a day and that both kids will be in the same school for the same hours if at all possible. I’ve paid my dues and deserve that so much.
I’ve thought about giving up on public school altogether and having them attend the Jewish day school with one on one aides but quite frankly, neither twin is ready for that. Neither twin is ready to be THE special needs outcast in a class of neurotypical kids, with all the comments and stares that entails. Ultimately, that IS my goal, but we’re just not there yet. They still need the extra support of having lots of kids like them in their space. My kids have a lot more in common with non Jewish kids with autism than they do with neurotypical Jewish kids. Plus, with toilet training still at stake, I’m not sure most one on one aides will want to be dealing with constant potty accidents. Public school HAS to. Public school is mandated by the IEP and if they say my kids are high functioning enough to be kept within district and not sent out to special autism schools than by golly, they need to meet their needs. Public school has OT, PT, and speech therapy right on site. Public school has a sensory room, special educators, and a staff used to dealing with all types of special needs.
So for a while longer I sit patiently and when friends ask me where my kids are going in the fall I admit that I have NO idea.
The update: BOTH twins are on abilify. Wilma’s tantrums have decreased in length and frequency but are still mighty intense. She no longer throws plates/cups/silverware at dinner. She is willing to leave the house in the mornings without her brother. When I ask her to do something she sometimes complies. HUGE improvement. For #1, she stays dry as long as I tell her when to go potty. If I keep my mouth shut, she wets herself happily. For #2, she is still 100% untrained and it always lands in the underpants. I buy lots of extra underpants and hey– she never does #2 at school. Fred’s abilify dose needs to be tweaked still— it tends to wear off before dinnertime so dinner is a challenge with him– it’s as if he’s DONE being asked to comply. We ask him to eat, he turns on the tears— how dare we require anything of him at the ungodly hour of 6:00 pm. Instead of biting, he’s now licking. He has no stranger anxiety anymore— at the playground he picks random mothers, climbs into their laps, and licks them on the lips. That’s when I whisper that my kid has autism, and I see how understanding people can be.
The biggest update: I am now able to take both twins to certain playgrounds by myself. No huge double meltdowns at certain playgrounds anymore now that we’re on abilify. We have a standing playdate every Monday morning with another mom and her autistic three year old and neurotypical four year old. So far we have a nice budding friendship forming.