- A boat comes over and the captain tells the person to hop in and the person says "No, thank you. God will save me."
- A second boat comes over and the captain tells the person to hop in and the person says "No, thank you. God will save me."
- A third boat comes over and the captain tells the person to hop in and the person says "No, thank you. God will save me."
- The person dies, meets God and asks "Why didn't you save me?" To which God replies - "I sent three boats for you and you didn't get on any of them!"
As we start to prepare for the transition of our daughter from pre-school to kindergarten I find myself conflicted about where I want her to land. Full inclusion? Semi inclusion? Separate school? I find it hard to believe that I'm even thinking anything but full inclusion might benefit her, but my gut tells me that we should be open to the possibility of a separate school for a short period of time while she learns the basics of reading and communicating with her talker. My open-mindedness comes as a result of meeting more than a few children in our area that have needs somewhat similar to my daughter and the stories I've heard from their families. It's sort of like the 3 boats coming and giving us some great insight and I don't want to ignore their input like the story above.
The good news is that we don't have to figure this out alone. There are a team of people in our school district that will come together to get to know my daughter better and present us with some options. I've heard very positive things about our district and our experiences have been very positive overall for the pre-school program and expect it to continue as we transition to school age services, but we are not naive and will keep a healthy does of skepticism due to rumblings of school and special education services budget cuts.
My initial thought is to ask for an evaluation from the separate school that specializes in cerebral palsy. Previous evaluations determined that she is mostly on target or ahead on some cognitive levels and very obviously behind on all physical levels, making it very hard for her team to get a good assessment. This is one instance where I believe going to experts skilled at evaluating children with cerebral palsy will be a better choice than teachers and therapists filling out a cookie cutter evaluation and assessment process (such as a Carolina) that does not take into account my daughter's physical and hearing impairments. I guess that is where I will ask the school district to start as we begin our conversation around kindergarten placement.
I find school placement decisions to be one of the most challenging parts of raising a child with multiple disabilities and I know I'm not alone. Reaching out to other parents and learning from some of their experiences has been so helpful so far. If anyone here has experience to share I'd love to hear them in the comments section.
Kristina lives with her husband and two daughters. Some days all it takes is getting the day of the week right to make her feel successful. You can find her blogging at http://howlifehappens.blogspot.com/