13 hours ago
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Ten thousand freakouts as I check out a new school for Max
Whoa. There sure are a lot of big trucks on this road. I am not happy about Max's bus driving alongside them. And this drive is about 15 minutes longer then his current school commute, not what you want when the roads are icy. And how am I going to be able to get to school fast if Max ever gets sick and needs to be picked up?
The building looks nice on the outside. Hmmm, what is up with the interior cinderblock design? Shouldn't that be reserved for prisons? This social worker is very nice. Average class ratio of six to seven kids with one teacher and an aide sounds good. This school mainly has students with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, and some with autism. A good mix.
Wait, what?! The school doesn't believe in homework? Because it's a point of stress for parents and kids? Max needs homework! He learns best by repetition! A child can get homework if a parent requests it but still, that philosophy is perplexing. Need to grill the principal on that when we meet.
Good to know that plenty of other kids at school are using speech apps on iPads. Good to hear the school has OTs, PTs and speech therapists.
Wait, what?! Therapy sessions are only twenty minutes long? Doesn't it take about five minutes for a child to get settled in? What if you have a child like Max who is very engaged in therapy and has a good attention span—could you get sessions that are thirty minutes? One more thing to ask the principal about.
This is high school, though. There's not as much of an emphasis on therapies. And this is just the first school you're seeing. Maybe other high schools also do shorter therapy sessions, if at all. I know a mom who was told her child would receive therapies at the high school she's in, but her daughter's not getting what she was told. Nightmare.
Why is that boy sitting in the class not doing anything?
Why is that girl sitting in the class not doing anything?
Where are the students like Max?
I hope there are some younger teachers here, so far everyone's on the older side—it's good to have a mix of eager newcomers and ones with lots of experience.
Really impressed by all the life skill settings: a store, a supermarket, a kitchen, even a bedroom for learning to make a bed and fold laundry.
The graduates of this school have gone on to have jobs bagging at supermarkets, cleaning up at nursing homes and keeping clothes neat at a department store.
Stop it stop it stop it wipe your eyes bite your lip stop it stop it stop it.
Ask what other, non-menial jobs students have had.
OK, one works with children at a church school, another helps with animals at a pet daycare place. They have jobs related to their interests. That's good.
He wants to be a firefighter. Yes, the guys at our station all know him. Who knows, maybe he could get a job there someday that doesn't just involve picking up after people. Although I don't know what that could be.
Love that the students sell stuff that they make at craft fairs.
Great, Max and I can check out their work center when we're here for an intake.
Maybe he really should be a model.
It really is a very warm, friendly, nurturing environment. The students seem happy and friendly. But just as important, if not more so, is making sure a school is capable of bringing out Max's intellectual best, helping him with life skills, and preparing him for a future all while balancing his physical needs.
I need to speak with some parents with students here.
I definitely need to check out that mainstream school and see what a program for Max would look like. That's one major thing missing from his life: socializing with peers who are not disabled. If he spends all of his education in schools for students with special needs, how will he be prepared for the real world? Are we setting him on a path that leads only to a sheltered special needs world?
What's hardest of all to figure out is whether this school has a modern, forward-thinking approach to youth with intellectual disability that assumes ability—and is open to trying new approaches.
What's hardest of all to wrestle with is my own fears and concerns about choosing Max's school home for the next seven years of his life. He's so bright. He's got so much potential. He needs deserves the school that will bring out his best.
Chill. There are other schools to visit. The more you see, the better your perspective.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:36 AM