Saturday, October 11, 2008

Here's an Interesting Dilemma

A new issue reared it's not so ugly head this week for Casey in his educational career.

First, let me explain a little about how our local school system is set up as far as special ed. goes. You have what Casey is in, the AI (Autistically Impaired-ugh) classroom, and then you have cross categorical classrooms that "address" the needs of kids with more intense learning disabilities, some Downs kids, Aspergers kids who can't make it in regular ed, emotionally impaired kids. It runs the gammet. The classes tend to be larger, and more on course with a regular classroom because many of the kids are able to keep up with the pace.

So, at this point, Casey, being in the AI classroom, also goes with a parapro to general ed science and history. At first it was rocky as I think I chronicled a while back. But with the help of a great parapro and just getting comfortable, things have been going much better, and he even got 80% on a history test! Not bad I would say.

The other day however, his teacher called to let me know that there would be a new para coming in to take him to science in the afternoon while the other great para would still be taking him to history in the morn. Of course, what I surmised from this new development was that they needed to keep 2 paras in his AI room at all times with the teacher as well, and taking the one out twice a day was getting harder to handle for the other para.

Fine. Understandable, of course, I'm thinking, keep the new para in his AI room and let the other continue to do what she was doing. Why train another? Unfortunately, I don't believe I have much say or control in that whole thing.

Jump to the next day, his teacher calls me again and we begin to chit chat about a few things and out of the blue she asks me if I had toured the afore mentioned cross categorical classrooms last year? I had indeed done so, much to the chagrin of the special ed , for lack of a better title, administrator, who, like so many of the other staff in this system it seems, gets irritated with the thought of parents trying to get their children in the least restrictive enviorment they can. I had toured it wanting to weigh my options, because I knew what his AI classroom would probably look like ( as it does now) and not knowing who the teacher was going to be.

I was unimpressed to say the least of my tour. I was rushed through about 4 classrooms by the administrator, who could have cared less what I thought of them, because in her head, she believed he would never make it anyway based on what little she knew about Casey. She never said this, you just know things as a mother. The classrooms seemed overpopulated to me, a lot going on, too much. And the biggest deal breaker in the short time I had to look at the program was the discipline program they are on where they carry around cards where they get points for good behavior and get points taken away for bad. Well, seeing as how Casey still has problems adding 2+2, I knew that wouldn't work, and it seemed to be a very big part of their day.

So, sharing a lot of this with his teacher over the phone, she started saying that at a staff meeting they had discussed Casey maybe being at a point now that he could handle going into one of these cross cat. classrooms. Funny I thought, last year this broad (not his teacher, the administrator) didn't even want to let me tour it, and now they think Casey is ready for it?

At first I was excited, thinking how cool it was that he has matured and advanced enough to have that considered as an option, but then the conspiracy theorist got the best of me and I started trying to reason out this sudden suggestion.

First of all, the whole parapro, or lack of parapro deal is due to Casey having to go to regular ed. It's in his IEP, they have to do it. But, wouldn't it be easier to stick him in a classroom thats sorta like a regular ed room, and that way he wouldn't have to go back and forth, and his AI room could maintain their paras without losing one. I know this is their plan. They aren't really looking out for his best interest, they are trying not to hire more staff.

On top of that, there are issues of grading coming up, how to grade him in regular ed, with a modified curriculum. This is all new to the general ed teachers who have never had kids until this year mainstream. All the problems they are having are things that they didn't plan for or even anticipate.

Part of me thought, maybe it would be cool for him to be in the cross cat. room, and just say that he can't follow their discipline program and they'll have to modify if they want him to do something of that nature. It might be good to be with some kids that aren't quite typical, but also aren't non verbal with tons of behavior issues. Maybe, it would be just enough like a regular classroom, that he wouldn't have to go out to regular ed and switch up his day so much.

But, he has adapted to his schedule, his para rocks, his teacher rocks, he's happy, he doesn't fight me to go to school, he gets time with typical kids, while having the option of coming back to his small class setting in the AI room to calm and get his self together. Why rock the boat? So I can say "Yeah, my son is in a cross cat. room!".

I told his teacher before I would even consider thinking about the change, I would need to tour the program again, and for more than 5 minutes in each room. She said she would work on arranging that.

I am definitely not going to rush into things. I have to make sure they are trying to do this for Casey's best interest, and not their own, but as you can tell, I have my doubts.

More to come I'm sure.......