The Case for a Continuum — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

The Case for a Continuum

by Heather M


I attended my son’s IEP meeting this morning.  Usually I leave emotionally exhausted after listening to all of the things he can’t do and all of the progress he hasn’t made.

Today’s meeting was different.  In January of this year, he began attending an ABA based school, designed for kids on the autism spectrum.  His neighborhood school district sent a representative to the meeting to sign off on the IEP, but otherwise, it was just myself and the director of the program.  I sat there and listened to the progress he had made over the past year as well as the goals and objectives for next year, which were totally appropriate.

I realize that it is a fine line we walk as parents of kids with special needs.  Years ago, parents like us fought to have kids like ours included in classrooms and to be educated appropriately.  Recently though, I flinch when I hear that school districts are going totally “full inclusion”.  By all means, if a child can handle being educated with his or her peers, and it is appropriate to do so, then they should not be denied that right.  Even when the district puts up a fight.  It makes me sad and frustrated to hear otherwise.

But there continues to be a need for alternative placements, for self contained classrooms, and even alternative schools.  There are children, like my son, who can not function in a typical classroom even with a great deal of support.  There remains a need for a continuum of services.

First Day of School

By pulling him out of his neighborhood school, we received an added bonus I never expected.  Relief.  At his current school, they operate on what is best for him, not what the curriculum demands.  They have supports built in because every child needs them, not because of what an IEP dictates.  Holiday parties are sensory friendly and no longer make me sweat bullets.  The OT and other related service providers are well trained, rather than me training them.

Just as we need to continue to fight for our kids to be included and to have the same rights as our other children, we also need to continue to fight for what’s best overall. 

Even if that sometimes means special schools.

Email Author    |    Website About Heather M

After teaching special education for several years, Heather M recently decided to make the switch to full time mom to her three children, ages 8, 6, and 2. She plans to add an adorable three year old boy to the mix in early 2011 when she and her husband fly to China to complete his adoption.

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1 niksmom December 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm

You could have written this very post about our experience with putting our son back into school this year! I couldn’t agree with you more that there needs to be a continuum for our children. For all children.

2 Janet December 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

My son gets most of his education in the sped room. One of his best ways of learning is discrete trial (ABA method). I adore his classroom teacher and she adores Luke. But it isn’t the appropriate place for him. He is there for socialization, circle time, parties etc.

3 Heather M December 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm

ABA is definitely – by far – the best way of learning for my son, Will, too. I can not put into words the difference it has made for our family!

4 Kimberly December 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Absolutely! Currently my daughter can handle a general ed classroom and we are pleased with her progress there. If that ever changes I hope there will be appropriate alternatives. I imagine it will be a bit of a we’ve seen several times already, but we want her to be in the place that best suits her. I’m glad you’ve found such a place for your son! It sounds great.

5 Mary E.S. December 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

I am so glad that some one else agrees with me that we need this alternative.We don’t have this in our area and my son struggles with the 1 hour a day in a regular class.This year he is being disciplined for leaving the room and his teacher and I have had several discussions about it already.His IEP states that he can return to his inclusion classroom when he becomes agitated or upset and she say’s he tell’s her that he’s bored but he tells me what really bothered him.Next year he will be at a different school and I have a lot of anxiety over how this is going to work.I don’t ever see my son in a regular classroom even though he is high yield.I wish we had the choice that you have.

6 Barbara January 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

Truly, “special” education that gives meaning to the “I” in IEP and IDEA – individual.

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