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03 November 2009


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At this point I think that it almost matters more what type of people are in the school, rather than which type of philosophy or program the school offers on paper. We've had amazing teachers in schools that have very little in the way of facilities or programming (the teachers/aides ended up figuring that out themselves), and horrendous teachers in schools which looked wonderful on paper and supposedly offered everything we wanted. It doesn't help much in making a choice as you don't really get to know the people until you get there, but I've usually found that if I'm immediately comfortable with a teacher, my child is likely to do well with them.


I think the most important point you've made here is that Charlie's current school was attempting to educate in a vacuum. As you, Jim, and Charlie know and show us all the time, life is really what happens outside that classroom. Seems to me that Charlie's educational environment needs to take that into serious consideration and begin to give him skills and coping mechanisms to continue to thrive in life outside the four walls of school.

Judy T

I keep coming back to my kids' experiences, which is/was that as long as schools were trying to "include" them, they felt peripheral. When they were in specialized settings, where everyone, from the administrators to the teachers, to the cafeteria workers, were there to work with kids like them, they felt "normal." They had peer groups with whom they could relate, their externally-induced anxiety dropped markedly, and they had the space to figure out who they were and how to be the happiest them they could be. Inclusion works only if kids are actually being included - for my kids, being with "peers" means being with kids like themselves, and that's the ONLY way they were every truly included.

a parent

This is one of those issues where "your mileage may vary." To me, the problems that you are seeing aren't "public school" problems, they are massive, inflexible middle school problems. Add into that the impression that the your school system is "one of the nation's finest" and you've got problems.

For us (and I know that this is not a universal solution) a small, flexible public school that truly includes special needs student seems like the best solution. My son is included in regular classroom activities because there is no separate special ed classroom. He gets a one-on-one aide because he is in a public school. The staff and students treat him well because they've gotten decent training, because from the principal down nerological diversity is valued.

For my son, I've seen that he learns mainly from his peers and modeling what he sees. When he was at an Autism specific school with kids that had many difficult behaviors, this meant he was always modeling problem behaviors. That meant most of his school day was spent on quashing those behaviors, which in turn lead to a stressed-out child and more problems. When we went to move to full inclusion there was scepticism, but they could see they weren't getting anywhere with my son so they were willing to let him go.

What my son needs is public education where he is truely included. Private schools that are not special ed specific would never allow him to attend. Special ed specific private schools would not give him peers to model. We're working on finding a middle school setting that is small, personal and values neurological diversity in the same way that his elementary school did. It takes work and we'll probably be trailblazing with the first "really autistic" kid in the school, but I think it's the only path for us.


I dread highschool. Luckily we are in a K to 8 so inclusion will continue and he's doing very well. The chatter this year, the opinions.. Did you know he'd rather work with a boy not a girl?? That was one of the converations the EA sent home btwn him and her... conversation.. Never dreamed.... no behaviour, he worked with the girl... but he didn't want to at first. WOW!!!!

I'm dreading the automatic toss into a "self contained classroom" like the one Charlie was just in come highschool. Thankfully that's still 6yrs away b/c right now, I don't know what to do.

Club 166

Between state performance standards (No Child Left Behind) and overflowing enrollment (more people pulling kids out of private schools as the economy sours), life at our primary school also focuses on "Achievement and Discipline" more than what I'd like.

I shudder at the prospect of middle school (two years away for us) as that is even more crowded.

What type of situation (inclusion, specialized setting, etc.) is offered for each individual often seems to come down to what they have available, as well as what THEY think is best. Never mind that you're the world's expert on your kid.

And this year unfortunately also confirms to us that results are indeed very specific to the attitudes of the teacher(s) in the classroom. Even in a "good" school, with a "good" principal, things can get difficult.


Kristina Chew

Charlie really did have some positive experiences in elementary school. we just drove by his old elementary school yesterday and he had a big smile on his face. he talks most about one of the aides he had there. but middle school---it's been a beast!

Also at the elementary school, Charlie had regular opportunities to play at recess with "typical" kids. His classroom had scooters and the other kids wanted to use those. There was just a sense of there being more "flow" between his classroom and the rest of the school. Also, the kids had lots of chances to see Charlie and his classmates doing other things, whereas now they only see them with the aides in their room, or doing gym or other things as a separate group.

The town we used to live in didn't have much of a program (which was why we left). But when we moved there, we had thought that it might be possible to make this town work, simply because we thought we might be able to push for more things to have Charlie included. Unfortunately other things happened and that town's school district didn't have any appropriate placement fro Charlie (leading us to move to the town we're in.....no geographical cure, that's for sure).


one of the things i find most difficult, as a middle school based school psychologist, is trying to find true, meaningful ways of providing real social interactions that are not scripted for my kids who happen to fall on the spectrum. It is hard enough to get them to be civil to fellow NT's, much less neurodiverse peers.

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by Kristina Chew …………………………

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