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Old 06-24-2009, 06:38 AM   #1
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Schooling your child w/ special needs?

DS is 4, and in this year's IEP, it says we are to start talking about his transition to Kindergarten in Jan/Feb. DS has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS. After intensive therapy for the past 2+ years, he is doing amazing. At 2 years when we started services, he wasn't saying anything, now he is talking in complete sentences. When he started OT, he had at least a 6 month delay in everything- now tests out as a year advanced. The problems that remain are some auditory processing (has issues following multiple step directions w/o visual cues) and some sensory issues (under-responsive to physical stimuli causing him to use more force than necessary at times- this is an issue on the playground, and over-responsive to visual stimuli which causes him to be completely overwhelmed and lose all attention if there are too many people, too much going on etc.)

We do not think that DS would thrive in the public school system. We feel he really needs a small teacher-student ratio to help lessen the chance of him becoming overwhelmed, and to increase the amount of attention he receives from the teacher. We also know that he will not be able to sit behind a desk for hours. He needs to move. The IU has told us that they do not think DS needs any sort of support in the classroom (right now there is an itinerant teacher who goes to his classroom 45 minutes a week and she is worthless.)

We started looking into private schools, but are having difficulty. DS is a bright, intelligent child. He does not need any special curriculum and probably will not need any support/remedial classes. However, he also would not do well in your typical academically rigorous private school.

Has anyone been through this and do you have advice to offer? Thanks so much!


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Old 06-24-2009, 06:54 PM   #2
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Re: Schooling your child w/ special needs?

Have you looked into any of the charter schools in your area? Charter schools are publicly funded schools that have different focuses. The class sizes are usually much smaller than a traditional public school.

There are three charter schools near me. I'm not sure about one of them as we didn't look into it. One of the others is focused on service. They do leveling there (meaning if your child is more advanced in reading, they'll bump them up during that time of the day, or if they are behind they'll drop them down so they will be able to learn better and not get lost).

The third charter in my area is one that was created by parents of kids on the autism spectrum. Their kids weren't getting the help they needed at traditional public schools. This charter focuses on social skills as well as the regular academics and other therapies the kids may need as stated in their IEP's. This is where we chose for my high functioning autistic son to attend.

My son's kindergarten class had 12 students, with one teacher and two para-educators in the classroom. He's picked up on reading really quick and was soon bumped up to the second grade for reading/language arts. This school also does leveling. He has a lot of anxiety along with the autism and having the smaller class with a teacher who has taught autistic children before was able to get the type of help to succeed that he needed. He would have gotten lost amongst the crowd and probably wouldn't have done as well in a traditional public school. He's so high functioning now that even his teacher would start to question the diagnosis at times, but then, of course the autism would shine through. He's come a long way since we first realized he might be autistic when he was 2.5yrs.

So, my suggestion for you is to look into charter schools. You won't have the added expense of a private school, class sizes are smaller and often more focused on the individual. That being said, not all charter schools are created equal. Make sure you tour them and see exactly how classes are being taught, how behavior problems are handled, and what their focus is for each particular charter. While charter schools are publicly funded, they don't get quite the same amount as traditional public schools do. This can be a problem sometimes. Most of the time, they are able to raise funds via donations and fund raising events. Most charter schools also require parents to volunteer at the school (or at school fund raising events) so many hours per school year, so that's another thing for you to think about. At my son's school, it's 40 hrs per school year.
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:06 PM   #3
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Re: Schooling your child w/ special needs?

Kearnan was also diagnosed with PDD NOS, now he is diagnosed highfunctioning PDD/aspie. We found the public school to be quite useless honestly. Their class sizes are too large and our local ISD has a policy that they apply to all children on the spectrum, they all go into self contained classrooms, regardless of level of function. Needless to say we were not impressed. Up till last year Kearnan homeschooled, but he went through a really difficult patch last year and refused to work for me at all, I happened to notice a charter school very close to us and enrolled him. This particular charter did not have a focus like many do, it is simply focused on small class size and individual learning. Which sounds about ideal. But I have found that the quality of education and support in charter schools varies greatly, and there are some huge downsides to it. Kearnan was able to be in a mainstream classroom, he was even able to move between classes (he moved up for math as he is advanced in it). But though they talk about individual learning styles ect, that isn't necessarily how it works. And they tend to be underfunded so alot falls by the wayside. They were painfully slow working out his IEP, and then alot of it was not appropriately applied. Though overall I would say it was far better than we would have gotten with the local ISD, he won't be going back next year. WE do not have any private schools locally that are not incredibly religious (and as far as I can tell that is the main focus of most of them, teaching religion) so those are not an option, even if we could afford it. I did recieve an invitation from a new charter school that specializes in science, they really want Kearnan to attend next year. But to me it is far to high pressure and driven for him. I can tell from just reading it that he would be miserable there, and I don't think they could meet his special needs (he isn't too bad now, but he has alot of sensory stuff going on still and he over reacts alot). They want him because of his IQ test scores, and i don't want to put that on him. So we will be homeschooling again next year.
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