Saturday, February 4, 2012

The path ahead

Ease on down, ease on down the road...
One thing the last four years have taught me, is that an open heart and an open mind can accomplish a lot in a situation where autism-specific experience is pretty low, at least as far as msk's education goes. We've jumped a lot of obstacles to get on, and stay on, a path of inclusive education. I will happily talk about the merits of inclusion for kids with significant disabilities with anyone who wants to. We've also become pretty good at supporting schools and teachers that support msk. I mean both general support of the school, and specific help in understanding and working with msk, which in turn helps any other special needs students who are following a similar path. All in all, I think everyone involved has grown a lot from the experiences involved in msk's inclusive education. I know I certainly have.

There is however a limit to blazing new paths and figuring it out as you go. Given the Grand Canyon-like split between services when in school and services when you finish school, it seems like that limit might be high school for msk. It's sad, because inclusion has pushed and pulled him to such advances in academics. And behaviorally, he's doing amazingly well too. The guy who couldn't stay in a seat, who couldn't keep from saying those words that made all the other kids laugh, who we worried so about eloping? He's now getting his work done, answering questions and getting on the honor roll.

But I need to be honest, and with a kid with the kind of challenges msk's got ahead of him, we need to understand the system of supports that he can access. What we need to find is a school that still cares for him and values him as the last two schools have. He also will still need real academic challenges and peers to model. But this is a kid that's going to need support once he turns 21, probably lots of it. We need to be planning for that transition from the day he starts high school. We need to learn from people that know where to find vocational training and a job coach. We need to find people that can help him reach his full potential, whatever that turns out to be.

I know that finding this school and getting msk settled and thriving there is going to take a lot of hard work, but work seems a lot more appealing than worrying about changes.

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