mainstream schooling or special needs

Tracy - posted on 04/07/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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hi friends,
at the moment my son is attending a mainstream school, but recently we have been told that they do not have the physical room to hold him when his attention is not good. In every other way they have been brilliant with meeting his needs and we feel that he is progressing. But as he is getting older it is becoming more apparent that he is further behind than the other children in his class.
We attended his yearly statement meeting and they are now asking if we think it is time for him to attend a school for children that are autistic. I only want what is totally best for him. But should we try to keep him in mainstream or not. Please share with me your stories as this is becoming a heartache for i have a fear of taking him from what he knows.

thank you
tracy xx

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Elizabeth - posted on 04/08/2010

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I thought is was law that kids have the right to free and appropriate public education...in my mind that is the schools job to develop classes that meet our kids needs. You can't tell me that there are no other kids at this school that could benefit from a special ed class for some areas of their day? If they can't provide the support and education for your child they need to pay for you to transfer to a district that can! I know this because I am an autism teacher as well as a parent of an autistic son!! When you look at the needs of our kids what are they??? For most that I deal with it is social and communication. So why would you put your child in a "special school" with other kids with the same issues? I get that he may need more support and may need to fit better with kids wiht the same issues, but at the same time our kids need to know that they have the same consequences as other kids and being around them even if it is just a short time per day like lunch and recess then so be it. I understand that it isn't the schools job to socialize our kids and we as parents need to set up play dates and join soccer and boy scouts, but learning first hand the rules from peers...priceless! Get an advocate and fight for your child if you believe it is right!

Esther - posted on 04/08/2010

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i think you should keep him mainstreamed even if you have to find another school that can accomodate him. if a child act up in school they usually remover him/her so why can'they do the same for him he is no diffrent he just learns diffrently and at diffrent pace . that's why they get paid the big bucks in this field. i struggled with the same issue only my situation was reversed. my daughter was in an autistic school and while it did wonders for her behaviors, she wasn' talking i went to the open house and saw why none of the children in her class talked so how could she talk when no won eles could. children learn from children best. and after a workshop with kathy snow i realized i was holding my daughter progress up because of my fear. so i stepped out of the way and let her succeed. it's been hard however she is starting to talk, sing, and be confident.

Amanda - posted on 04/08/2010

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Hi Tracy,

I feel for you; I really do. Our Billy is just 3 1/2 and in an "inclusion" class, half special needs and half normally developing children.

If you prefer to keep him in a mainstream school, I suggest you fight for that -- but with the understanding that it may be difficult, and both you and the school may need to provide special supports for your son.

I'm not sure where you're located but in some places, the school can provide a specific aide, assigned to a single child throughout the day. So if your son needed to be taken out of a group setting, the aide could change the environment to better suit his learning needs -- maybe taking him outside for a story or into a different classroom.

As someone mentioned below, it really depends upon your son's development and what you feel is best for him at his age/stage of development. If he has friends at school and is responding well, then surely some accommodations can be made for his needs. We all know that kids on the spectrum don't respond well to change and DO respond well to a consistency of environment.

That being said, you don't want to keep him in an environment where the staff has a negative attitude toward his challenges.

Please keep us updated as your decision-making progresses, because I think this is a question that all of us will face at some point -- if we haven't faced it already.

Best,

Amanda
Blogging for Billy at www.AmandaBroadfoot.com

This conversation has been closed to further comments

24 Comments

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Kym - posted on 06/30/2011

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I am not sure where you live. My personal opinion on Inclusion is that it is appropriate for most children "when done correctly" but it is not appropriate for all children...so it depends. In the United States, schools are required to follow IDEA, but rules on Least Restrictive Environment vary from state to state. Here in PA, there was an important least restrictive environment (LRE) case called Gaskin. Ever since, the state has been keeping track of LRE.

You may want to check out the Wrightslaw website (great site!) to get more information about how you can best advocate to get what you need for your child if you want inclusion. They cannot just simply tell you they do not have the room for your child. They should make a sensory area/quiet area for your child to calm down - (not a seclusion room). www.wrightslaw.com.

Here is a link to an article I wrote about Inclusion and making it work...which may be helpful to you:
http://blog.autisminreallife.com/2010/02...

Kym - posted on 06/30/2011

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I am not sure where you live. My personal opinion on Inclusion is that it is appropriate for most children "when done correctly" but it is not appropriate for all children...so it depends. In the United States, schools are required to follow IDEA, but rules on Least Restrictive Environment vary from state to state. Here in PA, there was an important least restrictive environment (LRE) case called Gaskin. Ever since, the state has been keeping track of LRE.

You may want to check out the Wrightslaw website (great site!) to get more information about how you can best advocate to get what you need for your child if you want inclusion. They cannot just simply tell you they do not have the room for your child. They should make a sensory area/quiet area for your child to calm down - (not a seclusion room). www.wrightslaw.com.

Here is a link to an article I wrote about Inclusion and making it work...which may be helpful to you:
http://blog.autisminreallife.com/2010/02...

Laura - posted on 06/30/2011

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Im going through the samething right now. I truly believe that putting my son in a school where the kids are like him will help build his self esteem. Plus the teaches there are trained to teach him better. I know kids like this don't like change, but you need to think of the long term. It might be hard at first,but it will be for the best.

Betty - posted on 06/29/2011

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Check out the placement they are considering and then take him to see it bringing out the high points of the program. Sometimes to us these placements appear more restrictive however our students have more freedom because their environment is set up for students on the spectrum. They typically become less anxious.

Jaymi - posted on 04/17/2011

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I think it depends on a lot of factors. I have a son who is 8 and severely autistic. A year ago he was in a mainstream school, and he was miserable, and so were his teachers (he was struggling with a lot of aggression). The decision was made this past fall to send him to a special needs school. He loves it! They are making so much progress with him. He fits in with the other kids. Instead of hearing all of the negative feedback that I was hearing at the mainstream school, I get incredibly positive feedback. They understand him and accept him where he is at. You could always keep him mainstream. If it doesn't work, try the new school. It might turn out better than you think. If not, you can reevalute.

Melani - posted on 04/11/2010

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My Son is 7 & will be 8 in June....He attends a public school & has an Aid who is with him from the start of the day til he leaves. When he gets upset they remove him from his class room for "cool off " time but he is in all regular classes for the most part & it's been great for him. I guess ya need to weigh your pros & cons because only you know what is the best for your kids. I do hope all works out, it can be sooo rough at times trying to make the right move.

[deleted account]

My son attends both Mainstream and Special needs. I had to get an attorney though. The school he attended at 3 had cut the program down to half day this year. I was like" if he qualified for full day last year, then he does this year, I don't care what you did with the program!" He has asperger's, these kids rely on consistency and routine, and transitioning is always a problem. He has a social delay, how can he develop his social skills with peers if he's not with them. So I got the attorney, and all of a sudden, they put him in a half day mainstream program and then he's bussed to the elementary school for the half day special ed program. Hmm, amazing what a little motivation does to them! Don't ever give up, it's all about the kids.

Heather - posted on 04/11/2010

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Tracey,

We have always insisted that our boys be included in mainstream.

Reason being:
How are Autistic children to learn how to function in society if they are not taught from the very beginning in environments that others take for granted.

We no longer lock up our Mentally deficient away. They are not to be hidden from view.
Not sure where you live Tracey but I dont see why the school is not getting support to help with the class room situation.

I live in South Australia and we have SSO's (school services officers) who help the class teacher facilitate lessons. Both my boys are supported in complete Mainstream schooling and I will fight tooth and nail to keep it this way.

Yes it is sometimes hard work...but dont give up NOW. You have started well, keep at it

Tracy - posted on 04/10/2010

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hi there i would just like to thank everyone that has taken time out to reply to my post, of which i have read all and will look at all the angles. again thank you

Bonnie Jean - posted on 04/10/2010

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I have two sons that learn on the Autism Spectrum although they are brothers they are very different having different identified needs. They have always been included in the regular education classes from early childhood through high school, because this is what the "law says" under I.D.E.A. 2004 ....LRE - least restrictive environment : the student must be placed in the general education setting with supplemental services and supports until it is shown the placement is not right for the student to access the general education curriculum. Before a student is to be removed from the general education class it must be tried unless the severity of the students disabilities or the parents request different....

I also am a partners graduate class 14, MN. Public education does not promise the best of services ..The law it states " an appropriate education" .



Children learn about real life in real life...

I did not allow my children to be sent to resource rooms or segregated programs because it was teaching them to be institutionalized.

The students IEP -Individualized Education Program means just that Individualized , as Tracey Howard suggested the students IEP could be written allowing time in one setting part of the week and in the other setting another part of the week depending on the students identified needs....and the IEP TEAMs decision, remember as a parent you are an equal partner of your child's IEP team, no one knows your child better than you!

Tracey - posted on 04/10/2010

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Can you ask the mainstream school to get outreach from the local special school, or see if your son can have a split placement where he spends some of the week at mainstream and some at special school?

Esther - posted on 04/09/2010

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i went to a program called partners in policy making. they showed parents like myself and actual people with disability that they can be a voice for themselves and others. i graduated and have been helping people since. i transfered my daughter back into public school and have never looked back.

Lisa - posted on 04/09/2010

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going through the same mate.we want our daughter to go to special school it's a level playing field everyone is the same so we hope it will encourage our girl to make friends.you know whats best trust yourself you know him better then anyone.he will be fine to change if you ease him into it using picture's to explain helps my daughter.no one has the right to tell you whats right for him let me know how it goes x

Julie - posted on 04/09/2010

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Tracy--When my oldest son (now 7) was placed in the EC preschool program after he was diagnosed there were many days when he had to be removed from the classroom. There wasn't a ton of extra space there but his teacher often took him to the assistant principal's office or to the EC resource room to calm down... where there's a will, there's a way.

He's now completely mainstreamed but we have him at a school that houses one of the school system's autistic programs so the resources are there if and when necessary. The public schools are bound by law to provide the services your child requires or pay for you to get them elsewhere if they can't.

Good luck!

Tracy - posted on 04/09/2010

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hi Amanda, thanks for the support on this matter, the school is a lovely school just very small and he has 2 one to ones throughout the day, but it is the physical space they are struggling with. And this i find difficult as we know that everyday more and more children are diagnosed with asd and other disorders we have to deal with. The government need to realise that this is something that they need to address and soon. As it us unfair for our children but also the other children in the class that do not have this disorder, but do suffer in a way as like Ross my son, does disrupt the class. And although it is my sons future that i have to think of, i to feel the sence of responsibility to the other children in the class

Tracy - posted on 04/08/2010

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hi michelle, we were looking at schools within the mainstream that have special classes within them, and where we are they are few and far between and all with a full waiting list. you would think that this would tell the education board that there is a greater need out there for this kinds of resources

Tracy - posted on 04/08/2010

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Hi yvette, it would be good if this school that my son attends had something like that as it is a good school and he loves the teachers that he had there, and he has bonded very well with one in particular, it is unfortunate that they do not have the space to erect a building to help with children such as ross, i will admit i did approach the education board to see if they would consider doing that, said yes with funding but the school is so small that there is no space for such a building.

Tracy - posted on 04/08/2010

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hi krista, my son is 7 now and up until now mainstream has been where he has been, but at the meeting we attended at school they said that their main concern is the fact that he is not mixing so good with his peers and the difference between him and them is showing greatly. I know in my heart that special education is the way to go as although the school meets his needs in one way, in another they can not. Ross is a friendly boy and wants to play with the other children but as i am sure you are aware that his social boundaries keep him from doing so. I know deep inside where he will be going i guess im looking for others with a similar situation to help with the pro's and con's. xx

Michelle - posted on 04/08/2010

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Hello, one thing great with my sons school is they have an autism class right in the school, so he spends time in that class but also part of the day he gets to spend with the other children. I love the autistic class because it is more geared to his needs and he gets thearpy there, but he also gets interaction with other kids for social skills, when he goes into his mainstream class.

Yvette - posted on 04/07/2010

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Hi there, it had always been a question for my son weather he was to attend a special school or mainstream, and after looking at both we have decided to give the mainstream a go, my sons new school have a great team and unit to help chidren with autisim. I think it depends on the school really and what you think would be best.

Krista - posted on 04/07/2010

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hard one to respond as it all depends on the child, how old is he ? How high are his needs.I beleive as a mother in your heart you know, besides school work does he get on well with he,s peers as i beleive this is just as important to a child/teenager to their wellbeing. Goodluck it is a hard call.

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