Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And the answer is......

Well, today was the meeting to determine Ballerina's placement for kindergarten next year. We were also going to review the recent re-evaluation of her autism classification. Her last official evaluation was over 2.5 years ago and given her progress, the information contained in those reports were completely out of date. Don't get me wrong -- she's still autistic. But, in addition to those reports being over 2.5 years old when we are talking about a 5 year old, so much has changed since the introduction of intensive ABA (which had not been started at the time of the last evaluation) that we really couldn't use that report to understand her current status.

The review of the reports was really simple. The data that had already been presented to us about a week ago in the form of the written reports. We had a few questions, but the majority of the meeting was spent doing 2 things....(1) listening to the pre-K teacher describe her recent performance in class and (2) determining her kindergarten placement for next year.

When the pre-K teacher arrived, I was so grateful for everything she was saying. She spent about 15 minutes describing the problems that Ballerina was having in integrating into the classroom. She talked about how disruptive she is during circle time and group lesson time. She talked about how Ballerina has trouble dealing with the sudden changes in routine that just naturally come up. She is running into all sorts of minor problems with the teacher. She also never really cares about her classmates. She wants to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. That's Ballerina. And by the teacher bringing up these issues, I was just gaining ammunition to use to support my thoughts that she belongs in a special education classroom.

But when it was time to talk about placement, I was a little surprised by what the Autism Office representative proposed. She said we should wait until June to make our decision. Following the suggestion of a friend who has been through this already, I was prepared to ask them if we could revisit this issue at the end of the school year when we see where she is at that time. I have been promised that there will be a place in the Early Learning Center if that's where we feel she will best succeed at that time. And, if not, we can decide to put her in a typical classroom with "xx hours of resource" per week. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I intend to find out. We were talking about 15-20 hours per week. 1-3 hours of that will likely be for speech and OT (occupational therapy), but I'm not sure where the rest of the time comes in. Would she be spending that time in the Early Learning Center? Or will she have a para shadowing her and helping her get through her day? This is something I need to find out.

But in the meantime, Ballerina's teachers are going to be doing some experimentation. She currently participates in the pre-K class in the morning. They are going to try to introduce her in a kindergarten classroom (which is considerably more structured) for an hour in the afternoon to see how she performs. She also is going to start having lunch with the kindergarten class to see how she interacts with those kids. They are also going to start having the para become more invisible. They will be there to help should the need arise, but they want to see what Ballerina can do on her own. This is all information we can use when we meet again at the end of the school year.

So, we don't have an answer, exactly. But we do know that she will attend her own home school. Which means that, as of right now, we know that 2 of my children will be attending the same school next year. Music Man will likely be joining them, but we won't know that for sure until his meeting next month.

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