With the school year drawing towards its conclusion, we’re starting our planning for next year.
The IEP’s essentially been agreed to for the moment – the one that we handled two months back for ESY placement (see my post The Non Event) – but the one thing that’s still in the air is where the Monster’s going to go to school in August. That decision was going to be deferred until later this spring.
Saturday, while at Honestly Autism, a local Autism conference, the wife found out that the city schools haven’t finalized their budget for next year. This means that they’ve also not finalized what the possible placements are going to be for students in the Together We Grow program (and other similar programs)… and she was cautioned that might entail a push on the part of the school board to rush the Monster into a mainstream class with supports.
We’ve been down this road before, vis a vis placements that we don’t think are appropriate. Last time, when we were preparing for this – for this year’s IEP, in fact – we were easily placated by the placement in Together We Grow. It suits him well, as a smaller class with a reasonable staff-to-student ratio (12 kids, 1:3 ratio), and is structured to accommodate his special needs while giving him the regular pre-K curriculum. Plus, it was better than the other two options they’d have gone with – assigning him to the special elementary school run by Kennedy Krieger (where the students were lower functioning than him and where he’d have none of the social modeling he needs) or mainstream with an aide (where he’d drown in a class of 24, even with a 1:1 aide).
I think that our current IEP coordinator and the staff at the Monster’s school are more than aware of what kind of parent they’re dealing with when we’re talking about me – I’m highly educated, highly motivated and more than willing to be confrontational if it’s going to help my child. I’m not like the majority of parents in our school district, who is content to let the professionals tell me what’s best for my son. I’m armed with reports from medical professionals – experts on caring for and treating children with developmental delays – that state that the Monster needs a classroom environment that has a low number of students and a high staff to student ratio.
Obviously, I’m not going to know what they’re proposing until we have our placement meeting. But if they think they’re going to have an easy time getting me to agree to send the Monster somewhere other than a program like the one he’s in… they have another thing coming.