Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update on School Search

On Monday I met with with the Committee of Special Education (CSE) to discuss the program Theo needed for kindergarten and the evaluation they had conducted at school in January. Believe it or not, I was not privy to these results prior to Monday's meeting.

The social worker, Rhonda, a very nice woman, had conducted (among other tests) an autism test, and concluded that he was on the cusp of non-autistic and mildly-autistic, but overall felt that calling him autistic was too drastic for his IEP (Individual Education Plan, where the kid needs to be labeled in order to be placed.) So his label instead is: Speech and Communication impairment.

Joe and I couldn't help but laugh; just when we were accepting the autism label someone else reverses it. Just goes to show it doesn't matter what the label is; Theo is Theo. This whole thing can be so subjective!! He still has his upcoming "degree of autism" evaluation, and this one will be much more in depth.

So, anyway, the label was moot in the sense that we all agreed on what program Theo needed for Kindergarten. A 12:1:1 class, which means 12 kids, 1 teacher and 1 assistant. He'll be getting speech and occupational therapy twice a week, as he does now. He'll no longer be needing physical therapy. For the past two school years he had PT once a week and did things like tricycle riding and swinging and jumping and throwing/catching a ball. He hasn't exactly mastered any of these things but he's good enough to not need the PT. His low muscle tone is more relevant to the occupational therapy, where they work on his weak pencil/crayon grip and his cutting/gluing skills, writing, coloring, etc... we do a lot of work on this at home and he's definitely improving.

After the meeting I visited an elementary school in Woodside, P.S. 151. My two local schools don't offer special education, unfortunately, so he'll have to travel somewhere a bit further by bus. But hey, he's used to the schoolbus and loves it anyway. He'll still be in our neighborhood, probably, just not walking distance. At 151 the assistant principal greeted me. I had spoken to him on the phone and he remembered me. He's a nice guy; he escorted me to the classroom, where I met Mary, the teacher. She was setting up gold dust around the room while the kids were at lunch so they'd come back and think they were visited by the leprechaun. I went with her to go get the kids from the auditorium; we stopped by the kindergarten bathroom on the way back and all the kids went. I took a peek and most of the toilets were unflushed...Theo's already ahead of the game! He wouldn't dream of not flushing, it's his favorite part!

Back in the classroom, the kids were awestricken by the gold dust and searched everywhere for the leprechaun. Even at storytime they were still sneaking peeks under the rug--so cute!! To be honest, I tried hard to find something off about the kids but I couldn't. None of them seemed like kids you think of when you think special ed. They were all entirely normal. Mind you, autistic kids don't go in classes of 12, they go in classes of 6 or 8. These kids must have had minor delays or ADD or something...who knows. But it made me happy.

So, I like this school but will be checking out others. We have a while before a final decision needs to be made, and then of course we have to actually get him IN to the school we choose, which may or not be hard. We'll see.

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