So yesterday I gave some background about the situation that I find myself in with Child2 and I elaborated a little bit on the fact that he has me completely stumped. Thanks very much for the comments on my post yesterday. They gave me A LOT of food for thought.
We have 2 options at the moment. The school where he’s currently at or the school where they assessed him.
Possibility A: Child2 attends this really lovely little school that I actually don’t want him to attend because I have issues to deal with.
Very nurturing environment. Child2 had a REALLY good time there and I had a good feeling about the school. If he was very severely on the spectrum then I would not hesitate to send him there.
IT’s a special needs kids dream – they even have a tent in the classroom for if you need to hide or regulate.
LOVELY teachers with YEARS of experience dealing with neuro-atypical kids. Child2 who doesn’t easily take to people STILL asks me when I’ll be taking him back to Alice.
No boxes. Only complete acceptance and support.
My Child will have an IEP specifically tailored to him. As the parent, I would be part of the team that determines WHAT he will learn. For example, if I say that I want him to know all about the solar system within 1 month, then they will try and make that happen for me. The IEP gets reviewed every 6 months. I guess this is the closest that I will get to homeschooling.
Fees are cheap and therapy will be included – although it’s not one-on-one therapy, it will be group sessions. I’m happy to pay for one-on-one therapy if I must.
No more than 7 kids per class. EVER.
There is no mainstream and he would use an adapted curriculum. In other words, numeracy and literacy will be functional and he probably won’t matriculate which means a lot of not-so-good things for his future. They have programmes for older kids – I don’t know what programmes though. Maybe I need to meet up with parents of older kids who have gone to similar schools to see where they are at now.
There are kids who are “worse” or rather, more severe than him. This is not good – one of Child2s key strengths is Visual Perception Modality i.e. the ability to see something and then imitate it – this is essentially how he learns. This is both good and bad and it does mean that if he’s with kids who are worse than him then it’s possible that he may regress. I need to speak to his team some more about this one and to see if this concern is justified.
They are led BY the child. So if the Child is not in the mood today then they will let him do whatever he is in the mood for. This does NOT work with my Tiger Mommy tendencies. I do allow my child to lead but only to a small degree. Not ALL THE TIME. This means that he may not learn EVERYTHING that we decide on in the IEP within the time range that I stipulate. That does not please me AT ALL.
This school starts late (08:30am) and finishes at 12:30 and they don’t even have aftercare. Which means an extra cost because I will have to pay someone to fetch and look after him until I get home. In fact, the school is not on my route at all so I will probably need to pay someone for a lift in the mornings. Plenty of logistics involved.
They say that there is always a possibility of working towards a goal to mainstream him, however they won’t commit to this i.e. they won’t give me a date as to when (according to them) he will realistically be ready for mainstream.
Choosing this option essentially means saying goodbye to the dream (I must still blog about the death of the dream) and it means that either I create employment for my Autistic adult son or he ends up working at Pick ‘n Pay’s parcel counter. No disrespect to the parcel counter staff at Pnp. I too worked that parcel counter when I was in high school and I needed to earn some pocket money.
Then there is Possibility B. This option means that I leave Child2 where he currently is.
Very nurturing environment. I LOVE his school. He does too.
Inclusive environment – he’ll be mainstreamed. Or rather, they will attempt to mainstream him.
The teachers at his school are all SNAP trained and so will combine this with mainstreaming.
They currently go up to Grade3 but have firm plans to go up to Grade 7 within the next 2 years.
No more than 10 kids per class. EVER.
Very, expensive. Child2’s fees are currently killing me DEAD. In addition to that I also pay for weekly speech and OT. Having said that, I SEE the progress so a part of me doesn’t mind forking out the cash.
No idea what happens after grade7, though I am pretty sure that there will be a decent, workable option by then.
Now. My first choice is to let him stay where he is. but I run the risk of that being the WRONG choice. What if it isn’t the right environment for him? What if he doesn’t thrive?
That other school has him on their waiting list and I know that we’ll get a call within the next year to say that they are ready for him. IF I turn them down then he will never, ever get a chance to go back there because those waiting lists are as long as my arm. Also, I do know that they won’t tell me that my kid needs to come to their school because there are MANY kids that need that environment.
The comments yesterday made me realise that I can only be his Mom and not his EVERYTHING ELSE. I think that this is a big part of why I’m struggling with this. It’s some control-freak tendencies that I have (Moms of kids like mine have it MUCH worse – it’s that advocate thing that flares up about 99% more intensely) and I guess the fact that I need to once and for all accept him for who he is.
I need to figure out what it truly means to accept him for who he is. Does it mean I don’t push him? Does it mean that I don’t first let him show me what he can do before I decide on the popular option? Does it mean that I let him be even though it kills me not to at least TRY to do more? Is this something you struggle with?
Fact is, I really just want him to reach his full potential and in order for this to happen I need to give him every possible opportunity to grow and become the absolute best that he can be.
After thinking about this some more today, I now know that my first choice is actually more about me and not really about him. Therefore I do need to think A LOT more about what the right thing for him will be.
Which option would be your preferred one of the two that I’ve listed here? Do you think I’m over thinking this? I’m hesitant to just play this one by ear.