Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back on track

This morning's post on one of my favorite blogs really made me stop and re-assess. Least Restrictive Placements (LRE), Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), inclusion, becoming a contributing member of society - these are common goals for parents of autistic school kids. We do the best we can and we wonder about the cards we have been dealt and the choices we have made.

Some of our tougher cards are living in a school district that is under a court order because of how poorly it's done in regards to special education. Having a child with a disability of a level that prevents "passing for normal" is another. Living in a large city with a necessarily large bureaucracy is yet another. Sometimes I get so caught up in problems and frustrations that I forget how well things are going.

In the interest of realizing that the glass is way more than half full I'd like to list some really great things:
  • msk might be the only autistic kid in his school, but I've never heard anything but positive statements from staff and kids (excluding usual 10 year old boy stuff, which is actually kind of comforting because they treat him like a regular classmate)
  • when we thought we were ready for a less restrictive placement there was skepticism, but nobody blocked us
  • our team is willing to meet at our request about issues and listen to our concerns without getting defensive
  • positive stories and amazing observations always make it into our team meetings - it might slow us down a little, but it keeps us focused on the idea that having msk around is a delight and not a burden
  • our support system is awesome - older siblings and grandma who can baby sit so we get a night out, a state autism program that provides a tech for support outside of school (like aftercare for extra socializing time), Special Hockey for sports and teamwork, a nearby park for exercise and unstructured time

When we first started on this journey I wondered about changing school districts and I still get advice from people telling me we ought to move. Honestly I can't imagine it working out this well if we had had the freedom to move, or the money to pay for an expensive special ed private school, or if we could spend all of our parenting energy on one kid. Sometimes it all falls into place.

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