I'm going to give my opinion on something that I have found to be very unpopular in the special needs world. My dd is 8 and has low functioning autism. She is completely non-verbal (she has no form of communication) and is also considered by the school district to be in the 1st grade. The rules the school must follow are, in my opinion, just ridiculous. Every nine weeks the school sends out a progress report, this report is wonderful, it keeps me updated on how far she has come to meeting the goals we set in her IEP and lets me know what areas we need to work on. They also must send out a standard report card. So basically, every nine weeks I get to look at a report full of "N's", which of course generally means "needs improvement", on every space. Saying she needs improvement is like a slap to the face. She needs improvement on her ready level, really? In the last few months she just started picking her name out of a field of 5 with a 90% accuracy. There is no way to know if she actually understands that this is her name or that it represents her. It just means that after months of practice she has figured out that they want her to pick that one. There is absolutely no way know that she even understands that letters represent words. If anyone thinks I'm being callous or mean by saying this please understand that it kills me to even admit all of this but this is what it is. All this does every quarter is tell me that my daughter is different and reminds me just how far off from other kids her age she is, I can't speak for every special needs parent but I know I don't need that kind of reminder. Aside from that there is also this arbitrary rule about how much time all special needs children need to spend outside of their classroom. For many special needs kids this is great. Many benefit on many different levels from the interaction with other children their age. Dd does very well in the music class she goes to with another another 1st grade class. She loves music and is able to participate with little disruption to the other students. They also have her at recess with other students and also try to include her in other activities to get the right about of time out of the classroom to meet the requirements.
The problem I have isn't that she is getting that interaction; I'm sure it's good for her. The problem I have is that my daughter (not all special needs children) can be temperamental. If she is on sensory overload or if she just feels that another student is too close she can, and will, lash out. I have had many scratches and bruises that prove that. The very last thing I want is for another student to be hurt because Hazel "has" to be out of her classroom for so many hours a week. I would also lose it if the school or another parent chose to press charges against her if she were to hurt someone. This may sound crazy but it is happening way to often to overlook. Hazel and her father and I could face life long repercussion for her actions now for a situation that I could not control. As her parent I have no say in school activities. I can't opt her out of the outside activities. I have no say in what activities they put her into or the effect it may have on the other children whether it be a scratch or a bruise or just general disruption. Each special needs child is different, even those diagnosed with autism are each different in their own way. It makes no sense to me to have standard, one size fits all rules for special needs children (or any child for that matter). My child would benefit from short stints outside the classroom, especially for music. Another child in her class may benefit from extended time outside the classroom. Some children with special needs may have skills that are measurable and therefore able to show on a standard report card. My child's skills are not measurable in that way which makes a report card unnecessary and somewhat cruel.
I know many parents of special needs children have fought for the rights to integrate their children into normal classroom settings. I really do think that is great for those that can handle it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not fair to my child or the other children in the rooms that she may visit for her to be forced to go if there is no real benefit in it.
I have very high hopes for my dd, the progress she has made this year have given me a good outlook on her future. I really hope that one day getting a report card for her will be something to look forward to because it's an honest look at what she is able to do. In the last few months she has started pointing to three body parts and can now pick correctly between her shoes, coat, pants and shirt. This may sound silly to some but for us this is amazing progress and I'm so proud of her. This is why the report card thing bothers me so much, it really takes away from the hard earned achievements when your looking at everything she can't do rather than everything she can.