For Music Man, things have always been easy on this score. What he does at home, he does at school and vice versa. Yes, there may be some things that are slightly different, but we see the same things and are almost always on the same page. For Ballerina, that doesn't seem to be the case.
For the second time now, her teachers are making a recommendation that I'm not sure I agree with. The first time was when we were in our local Early Intervention Program. They suggested that she needed an ABA program and suggested arranging for some 1-on-1 work through a local organization. They commented that she was EXTREMELY rigid and the rigidity of the ABA program would suit her well. My husband and I couldn't understand how this could work, but we decided to try it anyway. And, let me tell you, did it EVER work!!!! She is probably one of the many poster-kids for the success of ABA. And this taught us to listen to what her teachers have to say, even when it doesn't mirror our opinions.
We are now faced with something similar. Ballerina's kindergarten placement. She is currently in the most intensive program offered by our school system (an ABA program with a 1-to-1 student teacher ratio). She started here on her 3rd birthday (so over 2 years) and she will be entering kindergarten with the new school year.
There are several different placement options for her. My thought is that she would be placed in a special education classroom and would spend the next year learning to participate in a general education classroom. She would start off going there for 30 minutes a day and by the end of the year, it would be for the full day. But the school representatives recommend that she be placed in a typical classroom from the first day of kindergarten.
Don't get me wrong. This placement recommendation has me WHOOPING for joy on this inside. It really is a dream come true. From Day 1 when we started working with the school programs, I was hoping both of the twins would be ready for a typical classroom for kindergarten. But now that it is potentially becoming a reality, I'm scared. Terrified. Panicked. I don't know if this is the right thing to do.
First of all, we know from experience that she experiences regressions during the summer. Where it takes a typical student 2-3 weeks to return to where they were the previous school year, it takes her 7-8. This is why she is awarded the recommendation to attend ESY (Extended School Year) during her annual meeting in October (normally, they don't begin awarding these recommendations until February). Second, she will be going from a 1-on-1 environment to being 1 of (upwards of) 18 students with a general education teacher who does not necessarily have the added training of working with an Autistic child. And, finally, I worry because she is my baby and I'm the Mommy.
I went to visit her at her school recently and was amazed at what I saw. In order to assess whether this recommendation reflects my daughter's best interest, she has been participating in a typical kindergarten classroom for the last couple of months. She goes there for an hour every morning (and they are in the process of increasing it to last the entire morning). When I visited, she knew I was there and she looked just like everyone else. She sat in her square. She did what was asked of her. She listened to instructions. She has even made a FRIEND!!!!!!
So, now I'm torn. I don't want to hold her back. I don't want a diagnosis to hold her back. But I don't want to push things too far too fast. Every fiber of my being says that she should start the school year in a more protective environment and then be given the added freedom as she makes the adjustment. But after what I saw, I have to concede the possibility that the school representatives may again be right about what we should do for her. Her placement meeting is at the end of the month and we will make the best possible decision at that time. I'm just so grateful that we have been given such a supportive team who are willing to work with her and with us to maximize her potential!
Ilene is a SAHM living in the Washington, DC suburbs. She lives with her husband, puppy and 3 wonderful children. Big Brother is 7, and the twins, Ballerina and Music Man are 5. She learned that both Ballerina and Music Man were "On The Spectrum" when they were 26 months old. They were officially diagnosed 5 months later with "Severe Autism". Ballerina has since been diagnosed with ADHD and POTS in addition to Autism.
They have both made such amazing progress in the last 3 years. Ilene blogs regularly to chronicle the family's journey at My Family's Experience With Autism writing whatever feels right at the time. She calls it her "publicly available online journal" and she invites all to read and share.