As I have mentioned in many posts, I have constant anxiety about making the right decisions. Picking the right school is the hardest! It was easy when I was a kid, we went to our neighborhood school, and that was the only option I had. My parents didn’t even think of other options. But our neighborhood school was a good one, there were lots of opportunities; a Rapid Learner program, GATE program, and good teachers.
This is not the case with our neighborhood school. We gave it a try, we met with the principal and talked about options and opportunities for our daughter. And we didn’t think it was going to give her everything she needed to succeed. So I think fate or luck or whatever you want to call it, smiled on us and we found a wonderful charter school that had just opened and we got her in.
With Mateo things have been even more difficult. There have been many fights with the district, standing up for what I believed would be best for him and not taking no for an answer. But Kindergarten has been weighing heavily on me. Everyone says the services change when they get to elementary school. Mateo will require a lot of support, someone with patience and someone who cares about him and his academic future. And after every fight I had fought to just get him into a typical school, I knew our district did not have his best interests at heart.
So we set up a meeting with Maya’s Charter School. I wanted to see if it would be a good fit for Mateo. My goal was just to talk about what they would do for him if he went there. I was amazed by just the email they sent. They wanted me to bring in his reports, his IEPs, any information about him that we could supply. They asked if they could visit him at Preschool and see him in his current environment. I didn’t know what to expect from this meeting. But the fact that they wanted all of this information and wanted to meet with us gave me lots of hope.
We met on Friday. We met with the Special Ed Coordinator , the Principal and the person that trains teachers and work with the students. We brought our Behavior Specialist that is in charge of his home and education program. We walked into a room of smiling faces. Let me compare this to the district meetings. There they have everyone they can assemble, you half expect the Janitor to be sitting in there judging you. They sit on one side of the table with their notepads and scowls. They come ready to tell you this is what you are getting and we don’t expect you to ask for anything more. Although they may not come out and say it they imply “And you have heard about cutbacks to schools right? This is what you are getting and you should be happy to be getting this much!”
So we walk into the room, and we are greeted so nicely, and they tell us “Thank you!” What? Thank us??? I must be hearing things.
Yes, “Thank you for coming to us so early and helping us to set Mateo up for a successful transition to our school. It’s so nice to have parents that care so much for their child’s future.”
And that’s when I knew, here are people that are going to be on my team, helping Mateo to achieve his full potential, helping his dreams to come true. They told us “Our goal for Mateo is the same as any other child, for him to go to college.” They told us that they will use Mateo’s existing tutors for at least the first 30 days of school to make a smooth transition for him. They told us that we would be meeting every month or two for at least the first 6 months to see how he’s doing at school and at home. That we would all be working closely together to make sure he’s doing well.
They were shocked that his biggest deficit is speech and the district is giving him merely 30 minutes a week. They promised that he would be given the amount of services he needed. They insured us that he would receive speech and OT and if he needed an Aide he would get one. But that the goal is for him to work directly with the teacher and that his teacher will be trained on how to prompt and assist him.
They are coming to observe him at Preschool as well as at home for his home program. Then we are meeting again in February to talk about their observations and develop ideas for a transition plan. School doesn’t start until August! We already have 2 meetings planned by February!
For the first time with a school I didn’t feel like I was going to have to fight every battle to get him what he needs. I felt that they would be supportive of Mateo and listen to our thoughts and concerns.
With the district you get an IEP and that’s it. No follow up each month to see how it’s going. You get – this is what WE think he needs, this is what he WILL GET and if you don’t like it, you can request more, but it’s unlikely you will get it without fighting us.
We were all impressed. We agreed it’s his best opportunity, that no one else is going to be providing an opportunity like this in a regular classroom setting.
There will be challenges- this is a very academic school. He will be in school for a very long day. He will have a lot of expectations on him. But he has proved how he can take on so many challenges. And with the support of the school and all of our support, I believe he can succeed. And if it gets to be too much for him, we can find another option for him.
I feel like everything has fallen into place for him. We are lucky to have this opportunity. He is guaranteed placement because his sister already attends the school. Many kids won’t have his opportunity, it’s a lottery, a luck of the draw. Mateo will be the first Autistic child in this school. It will be a learning curve for them, but Mateo could also be their amazing success story. He is ours.