I haven’t announced it, but I have been taking a very intentional break from the digital world. It was going well, and I was getting to enjoy some time without thinking much, enjoying my family.
And I was doing well. Taking a break was a positive, positive experience.
Then today happened. And I need, NEED to write about it.
Today was Beanie’s parent-teacher conference. Which was great, because I scheduled it during my lunch/prep period, and didn’t need to use a personal day. Last year’s conference, as well as her last two IEP meetings (for those of you who don’t live in the US, and IEP is the document that allows a student to receive special education services–we have a meeting every year and re-evaluate every three years. They basically comprise my working life, and now I’ve signed on the “parent” line as well) were exceedingly positive–she’s made a LOT of progress and is adorable and charming, destined to a perfect life, of course…
In May, she turns 6. That means that she MUST start kindergarten in the fall, and begin her public school career (unless we homeschool, and we do work with her a great deal at home, but we’re choosing to outsource her education). So it’s coming up. She can’t stay in Head Start forever.
I thought we had time, though. It’s only December. But, after going through the positives–and there were a LOT of them; she’s met most of her objectives already–her special ed teacher said, “Beanie is due for testing this spring. Is there anything, besides speech and occupational therapy, that you want?”
You may or may not realize that there has been an elephant in the room.
Here’s some background: I led the team that helped the first student with ASD to go through our building, when I was in the middle school. I went through numerous autism trainings, and was the go-to person, for quite some time.
So I knew a duck, when I saw one.
I took charge, just like I do for the students on my caseload. I kept the same distance, even though it was breaking my heart. “I’ve been wondering about ASD testing,” I said. “What are your thoughts on that?”
Of course, she agreed. It was the elephant, and it long has been. She agreed with me, that having the ASD classification would get Beanie the supports she needs. And she said the Bean would definitely qualify. It’s her language, social skills (she’s 5-going-on-3), and fine motor skills that stand in her way.
I made it clear that I want Beanie educated inclusively, and that I defintely don’t want her placed on a lower track academically. Her teacher said that she will definitely be able to graduate, with the Michigan standards (which require Algebra II, amongst other things), because she is quite advanced, academically. I said that I want her teachers to try accommodations in the general education setting first, although I will be open to other options, if that doesn’t work. Peer supports would probably also work well for her, and I’ve already discussed that with her potential team members.
So, there’s that. Then the next thing. We want to send the Bean to the school district in which I work, even though we live in a different district. The time for me to start with the groundwork for that–especially since Beanie will be a special education student–is today. I went straight to the superintendent’s office, after school, and shamelessly burst into tears in front of the secretary, who will set up an appointment for me, with the elementary principal. Not every district will take a school-of-choice special education student, so we’re hoping for the best. (All right, we will rent an apartment in district if need be!).
But here I am. Today I did the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a parent, even with the knowledge I have about the issue. I can not imagine what other parents–the parents of my students, on my caseload–, who don’t have that background, go through.