Here's a little description of the events leading up to Kyle's private placement:  (he's now in 5th - going into 6th in the fall)

I requested  that my son (11 hfa) is placed at a private school that specializes with children with ASD as well as other dx.  They have a wonderful philosophy, but basic.  The school is "child centered" and their curriculum is in a way that nothing is taught in isolation.  Everything is integrated.  Additionally, my son would get 50 min per week of social pragmatic counseling.  This is an example of their philosophy:  I asked the principal, about homework and if all the teachers were different.  She said: "No, every child is different"  I could have kissed her.  lol.  Additionally, she said to me: "children with ASD tend to not get the whole picture, for example they see the bread on the counter, but don't know how it got there."  Again, she understands my son, he once asked me "how do they make water?"  The school has a pretty diverse student base.  There are children with many different dx, with many different struggles and strengths.  I think it models inclusion more than a self-contained classroom in my district. 

Some background, in 3rd grade, we tried a self contained autism room.  AFter about 5 months, I knew something was wrong with the teacher, and we held an emergency IEP meeting to have him removed, and he missed 2 days of school while we worked out his new placement.  I was met with much resistance, and the special ed sup. wrote on the IEP that she didn't feel the placement was restrictive enough.  Nevertheless, he was removed and 4 months later, the teacher was removed for physical abuse of a non-verbal child.  

His 4th grade year he had 2.5 hours a day of resource with a special ed teacher that has no experience with kids with autism. (Nor anything else it seems.) She has yelled at him, given him only fiction to read for over 1/2 the year, not followed the IEP, but she's still supposed to be a great teacher.  There are only a couple of other kids in the resource room, but their dx are so different than my sons, that she apparently doesn't get that she needs to meet all their needs since they all have IEP's.  Reg. Ed. teacher  is pretty good, not a lot of experience with kids with ASD but, she has a speech background, and she's willing to try whatever.  Special Ed. para, she's great, a bit Aspie herself, by her words, but again, she's told me "I don't feel like I'm reaching him, and I don't have the background to help him appropriately"  She feels it's her fault, it's not, it's admin.  Anyway, 4th grade was again, kind of  a wash.  If it wasn't for his intense tutoring in math (by my boss), he wouldn't be doing the multiplication, etc. and made the progress in math.  His ability to decode words is at 5.6, but his reading comp. is at 2nd grade!!!  He regressed in that aspect in 4th grade while in the public school.  

In any case, leaving all blame out of it, I think this private school will be a better placement for him.  It will give him the "appropriate" education he's entitled to.  They get him, and will continue to work with his autism, instead of against it.  Others in my district have requested this school, been denied, went to court, and won!  A friend of mine is requesting her 4th grade son be placed there as well.  I've sent letters requesting this placement, no one is willing to share their thoughts until the team meeting, which I guess makes sense.  In my letters, I was very polite, making it all about Kyle, not saying, you haven't done this, you haven't done that, I was trying to take the high road, knowing if I need to, I'll pull out FAPE, research based methods, true IEP, regression, highly qualified teachers, etc., if I needed to after the initial meeting

This is how it concluded:

I spent HOURS researching and preparing comebacks for all of their possible denials or objections to the private placement. 
I didn't need to because when I got there, they had the papers ready for me to sign.  The principal said "we don't want to battle with parents. We feel that mainstreaming him more is not going to work, and you don't agree, and we're not going to argue. we feel we've done all that we can..."  So that was it.  I signed, they signed, it was over in 15 minutes.  AWESOME!!!

Now he's in the placement and it's the most awesome thing to ever happen to him.  This is a private school that specializes in children with different dx.  A large part of their population are on the spectrum.  There are 4 kids in his classroom.  He's doing so well.  The biggest difference is that he's regulated and able to really be more in control of his emotions (of course not all the time)  But I would say the absolutely hugest difference is that he's HAPPY and SMILES when he gets on and off the bus.  He loves to write, seeks out non fiction to read, wants to do homework, and it's just awesome.  He will sit down with a notebook and write a story more often that sitting down to watch TV.  He's not a TV kid. 

They have a positive reward system.  They earn money (play money) for every aspect of their day.  The more they earn, the larger chance they have of rewards on a given day.  Just recently, they had their "raffle" which happens I think every 2-3 months.  He won a $20 gift card to toys r us!!!  He was beyond thrilled!!!

Needless to say.......  No, he is not with his NT peers, but this placement really models inclusion more so than his public school ever could.  And they "get it."  He can be himself, and he's not reprimanded for being himself.  The recognize that behavior is communication (at times) and just truly "GET IT."  He's thriving academically, socially, physically, heck, in every single area of his life!  A true miracle this school has been......

He also goes to school pretty much year round.  He's never off school for more than 3 weeks at a time (and that's only during summer) HE NEEDS THE CONSISTENCY and his psych totally backed me up on that.  He asks to go to school on Sunday's, that's how much he loves it!  And while in school during summer, it's not any of this baby sitting type stuff, it's a true extension of the school year.  It's M-F , same schedule, everything the same. 

Ok, sorry it's sooooooooo long.  but, I wanted to share.  Any questions, I'd be happy to answer them!!!

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Comments:

hope4...
Jun. 2, 2008 at 6:19 PM Lynn...that sounds like an AMAZING placement for Kyle! I wish there was something here like that for Emma!  Congrats on getting him in there...and that she school willingly agreed!  Great job!

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gusti...
Jun. 2, 2008 at 6:53 PM congrads!!!

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brown...
Jun. 2, 2008 at 9:00 PM

I think this is fantastic!!! I wish we had that available in my area.  Props to you for working so hard for Kyle.  I know it isn't easy, as I have had to go through a lot just to get the school to realize my son has Autism.  (initially they diagnosed him as depressed and I went to a neurologist and got the official diagnosis of PDD)

So hang in there, and GO KYLE!!!

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natha...
Jun. 2, 2008 at 11:08 PM Lynn, I'm so thrilled that Kyle has a place where he's happy and can flourish and I'm simply amazed that you didn't have to fight tooth and nail to get it!  That is absolutely wonderful!  Maybe someday I'll find that niche for Nathan where he can be who he is and still make great progress.  Hooray for Kyle that he's made it there!

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Mooki...
Jun. 3, 2008 at 3:18 PM

Fantastic... we are definitely going to need you if we ever have to switch out my daughters school

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mrsgregw
Jun. 24, 2008 at 8:23 PM

I am so happy for Kyle!

It would put me as a parent so at ease to know the staff understand Kyle and want to allow him to be himself...that is my #1 complaint with Michael's school... what message is that sending him that he needs to always be checking himself that he is "fitting in"

I am praying Michael's new school will be as positive of a experience for him as Kyle's school is for him!

oh, and I am realizing Michael also needs to continue a school schedule in the summer...the change has been overwhelming... :)

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