Navigating Through the School District
Nothing about parenthood has been as easy as I thought it would be from conception, to birth and now to school choices. My kids, Lucas and Riley, are currently enrolled in a private preschool two days a week for 4 hours a day. Now that they are turning 3, we are looking at moving into the school district and out of the home therapy sessions through our local regional center.
Sounds easy enough – not so… When a child has been working with the Early Start program like through our regional center it is free until they are 3 and then all services end. You are then turned over to your local school district. The school district tests your child in a variety of areas including, but not limited to:
• Speech and Language
• Adaptive Physical Education
• Psychology – testing for Autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified)
• Occupational Therapy – testing for sensory type needs, eating problems, or fine motor skills
All of these tests are done to help create a full picture of your child. Once these are completed the parents and the school district meet for what is called an IEP (Individualized Education Planning) meeting. It is two hours. Our IEP meetings for Lucas and Riley are next week so information is based upon what we have been told by the school district. The meeting is two hours per child. The first hour goes over the results from the testing. The second hour is directed towards coming up with a plan for that child for the following year.
So Here is Where it Gets Tricky
We only have one child with Autism. There is a large chance that only one of our two children will be eligible for continued services after the age of 3. Or, they both may be eligible, but Lucas may be place into a classroom environment and Riley just has one or two services.
So the questions I ask myself and others daily (or multiple times a day):
• Do I separate the twins for school?
• Do I try to keep Lucas in a private school part time and overlap classes with Riley at their current school? Maybe Lucas can get the benefits of both schools.
• Will placing my children in the school district program hinder them more than help them in the future? Lucas is high functioning and is already succeeding in a regular classroom setting with some help.