Had that "Parent Invitation" meeting

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 4sumrzn, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. 4sumrzn

    4sumrzn New Member

    yesterday. And, what we thought they were going to say...they did. They wanted to suggest moving difficult child to the Medically Handicapped unit starting next school year. The special education supervisor, along with the school psychiatric, Special Education teacher & principal all thought she would benefit with the placement. I asked them all to give me their individual opinions & reasons as to why they thought she would benefit more there. It's almost as if there are so many "good" reasons to do it....it's making the decision for us. BUT, it's also making us nervous not knowing if it would be the right decision...ya know??? We have a tour of the facility (within a different school in the district) set up in a few weeks....to meet the teacher, aides & children.....see them in action. Some of the positives that were mentioned are:
    -they focus daily on life skills
    -the class in limited to 8 children, 1 teacher & 2 aides
    -the therapists & psychologist work many more hours with the children daily, compared to the amount of time bouncing around weekly that difficult child gets now
    -all of the therapists & psychologists are the same through high school
    -transportation would be limited to all of the children in her class only, seat belts & an aide on the "special needs" bus (difficult child has been getting many referrals 2-3 times a week)

    This is just such a scary decision. We wanted to give 1st grade a try this year hoping for her to learn to be a student & possibly be mainstreamed into some classes with her aide. It hasn't worked well so far & she spends most of the day in Special Education room with her aide because she is not capable of "being a student" (only way to put it). We are also dealing with her being made fun of daily. She's been coming home with all kinds of words........"I'm crazy", "you're dumb", "I don't like you" & the latest..."stupid retard" (that one made me cry). Thing being....she doesn't understand these are hurtful words & laughs right along with these brats calling her the names! I witnessed it myself last week when she was getting off the bus. I'm not exactly sure how much that would change in the MH setting, but have been told the the students are very understanding of the children in the unit there.

    Oh, another positive (which the schools don't know this-not that it matters I guess).....one of the aides was our babysitter for easy child full time for 6 years after he was born. She's wonderful & started her position there after easy child went to kindergarten.

    Anyway......anyone have any insight on what to do? Obviously it's our choice & difficult child can stay where she is at next year. I don't feel that the school is giving up on her at all...they have been trying very hard with her. But, obviously see more than we do in an educational/learning setting.

    We only want what is best for her....but, how do we know what that is when it comes to this decision. Follow our gut feeling?????
  2. looking4hope

    looking4hope New Member

    I faced the same decision you did earlier this school year. As a teacher, and a difficult child parent, I feel that this is a good placement for your child. First of all, your child will get lots of individual attention. Many difficult children are extremely bright, and they process things very quickly (hence the jumping from thought to thought). In this type of environment, she can accelerate through the core material, rather than being taught at the pace of the class (which is usually just above the lowest learners).

    Second, she'll get the behavior corrections quickly and without disrupting the rest of the class. When a teacher has 20 - 30 students in a classroom, it's hard to focus on a single student who is causing most of the disruption. It isn't fair to the other kids, and they come to resent it. That's one reason why they tease your difficult child so much (besides her being so "different" from the rest of the kids).

    Typically a placement like this is intended to mainstream children into a regular classroom. My difficult child's school says that the average stay is 18 months, so definitely ask the school principal when you take a tour. Your SE case worker might have some insight on this as well. It is very expensive to have a child in this type of environment through high school, although they will keep them there if necessary. If it is your goal to make your difficult child function in a regular classroom (the "least restrictive environment"), then make sure that's in the IEP.

    The good news is that they get the social skills and behavior modification on-site, with psychologists right there. You'll probably still get calls if your difficult child gets physically violent, but they typically have a place where they can bring your difficult child to separate them from the other kids. Since many of the kids have the same types of behaviors, your difficult child won't be "different", which cuts down on the teasing. My difficult child's eyes were opened, because he now saw the types of behavior he exhibited. It made him really think about what he was doing.

    My recommendation is to give the school a try. In a placement like this, there should be a follow up IEP after your child has been there for 30 school days. If you place mainstreaming into a regular classroom into the IEP, you can easily "undo" the placement. But I don't think you'll find that you want to. My son is flourishing in this type of environment. Good luck!
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    This must be a difficult decision. It sounds like the program has a lot of pluses and your daughter has many serious diagnosis's listed. I would think that if she just can't function where she's at, then it's time to try something new. FWIW, school districts don't arbitrarily offer this sort of educational placement, it's very expensive to have such a low student to teacher ratio, so the powers that be must think it's warranted. I'm assuming your daughter has an IEP so the most important thing is that you make sure that she isn't just being warehoused at the expense of academics. This is because if she should improve behaviorally to the point of being at least partially mainstreamed you want for her to be on or near the appropriate grade level.
  4. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    This is a hard decision to make. I think I would like hard at the other school setting and maybe try it with the understanding that if it didn't work as hoped she be allowed to transition back. Sounds like the people are at least willing to work with you which is great.

  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I don't think I've every typed so much only to erase and type again, and then erase, LOL. I have very strong feelings about this, but I also bring a huge bias because of Boo. So... let me say that I believe in full inclusion and mainstreaming unless a child's behavior prohibits that. I know there are a lot of folks who disagree with me because they believe that some kids cannot get an "education" in a mainstream setting. To me, and this is my biggest problem with MH classrooms, socialization and being exposed to nondisabled peers is at least 50% of the "education" our more severely involved kids get. Unless our kids grow up to live in a bubble, at some point they are going to have to deal with nondisabled peers - as coworkers, or caretakers, or service providers. By robbing them of that opportunity throughout the course of their academic careers, I think they're being put at a huge disadvantage as adults, to say nothing of taking away any chance of forming relationships with nondisabled peers in their immediate community.

    My biggest problem with the Medically Handicapped setting is that there isn't a single service being provided in that setting that cannot be provided in your home school setting. Not one. It may be inconvient administratively but it can be done. Martie and Sheila both correctly point out that "placement" is the programming, not the setting. In practice, at least with Boo, unfortunately programming is all about the setting.

    Based on our experience, I think once you agree to the placement, it will be an incredible fight to have her returned to her home school should you change your mind. When I fought the battle, I was hit with some major retaliation, mostly against Boo.

    I totally understand how hurtful peers are. I think by moving her, you absolutely will protect her. But I also think she could conceivably stay in current setting and you could insist on education of her peers about differences and a zero tolerance for this kind of behavior after the education.

    I have found as Boo has gotten older, "school" in the MH setting has become less about education and more about caretaking and training him to be a "good client" for adult services. When you go to look at the program, try to get a feel for if the kids are being challenged and pushed, or if they're being "cared" for. Huge difference.

    I don't mean to be negative. I think, because I'm at the coming-to-an-end stage of my son's education, I really see where I think I majorly goofed. If I had it to do again, I would *never* consent to a placement other than a reg. ed. classroom with supports. But, again, that's my highly tainted opinion and may be meaningless in terms of your own situation.

    I will tell you that you need to follow your heart and make the best possible decision *you* can for your child. If you feel strongly that the MH class is the best setting, bless you and I wish you only successes there. Ditto if you make a different choice. There's no manual and we can only make our very best effort to make thoughtful choices.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First of all, I would address the bullying with the school. If YOU heard it as she got off the bus, SHE is probably hearing it all day. And why is the bus driver not cracking down on the other kids? She is being abused by the other children, and by the adults who will not make the harrassment stop.

    It may be hard to return her to a mainstream setting. And the Least Restrictive Environment is what you want to aim for.

    This being said, it sounds like a wonderful class for her. The support sounds like what she needs. She has a lot of years of school ahead of her. Learning to be able to "be a student" is very important. If she can learn this in the special class, then return to the regular school, it might be great. on the other hand, she might never be ready to go back to the reg. school. You can only plan for the near future, not for the entire future.

    If she can get the supports she needs, she should go wherever they are ALL available.

    I would be hammering the teacher and principal to stop the bullying. She is going to HATE school and have real problems if the other kids are not stopped from harrassing her. If YOU can hear it, the other teachers/staff MUST be able to hear it. in my opinion the entire school should go through an intensive no-bullying education. Our old elementary had a counsellor who did a wonderful job of this. I have NEVER seen a more accepting group than my daughter's peers at that school. And the entire school had such a low amount of bullying in the second year of the program it was wonderful. There are many good anti-bullying programs available to the school. Please PUSH them to work on this.

    If the placement looks and feels right to you, can she start there now? Why have her wait out the rest of the year when she could be adjusting and making new friends in a much more supportive and positive environment?