Hi everyone. I'm brand new here. My eight year old was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when he was five. He has been receiving speech, OT and PT since he was three; it just took the "experts" quite a while to come up with a diagnosis. On his cognitive assessments he tests in an average range for his age and grade level. Behaviorally and socially, however, he is significantly behind; somewhere in the 4-5 year old range. His motor skill assessments also show him being in the 4-5 year old range.
We have been very blessed to work with great therapists and the individuals at the school had been extremely easy to work with until NOW. My son's placement has been in the Life Skills Class at our then-neighborhood school since he was in Kindergarten. We moved at the end of May, which put us in a different section of town; however the school located in our neighborhood does not have a Life Skills Class, so he was able to remain in his original class.
He had okay IEPs for Kindergarten and 1st grade. His IEP in 2nd grade was miserable in my opinion; it did nothing to challenge him. So, this year I prepared a list of goals I would like for him to have for this year before I went to his IEP meeting (on Tuesday). We got into this big discussion about his present levels and placement because he reads at his grade level. Now they want to do a whole new evaluation and if he tests well enough they told me that they will require him to move to his actual neighborhood school because social and behavior issues are not a reason to keep him in the Life Skills Class.
I know that IDEA states children should attend their neighborhood school if they can receive an appropriate education there. However, I have some serious concerns about this plan of theirs. First, as I said earlier, the neighborhood school has no Life Skills Class or other class for special needs kids. It would require him to be in a general ed. classroom for the entire day. I don't see how this would be possible and give him any chance at an appropriate education. His ability to maintain attention is at the most 20 minutes at a time and even then he is up and about... or making noise. Second, he cannot handle large groups of children or people. It took him two years at his current school to even be able to eat lunch in the lunch room with the other students. Currently, he goes to Music and PE with his regular 3rd grade class, with an aid, and only participates very limitedly, sometimes not even staying for the whole class. I also am very worried that the social setback a move might cause would outweigh any academic gain. It took him 2 1/2 years to even began interacting with the kids in class. Since it is a K-5 class, he is still with the same kids and is just now starting to initiate appropriate interactions with them. I'm sure I could go on with my list of reasons why I think it is a bad idea to move him to this other school, but I think you probably all get the idea by now.
I really feel as if the school is attempting to do this in response to my goals and the fact that I have questioned repeatedly some of the practices in his classroom; not on what is appropriate for him. For example, they spend at the most an hour a day on academics in his Life Skills Class.
I know a lot of parents would be thrilled to hear that their child could be mainstreamed into a general education class full time... and I've dreamed of that day... but I do not think that now is the time. I would strongly favor a situation where he was allowed to stay in his current school and split time between the Life Skills Class and General Ed as he is able. I just can't see it being appropriate to pull him from pretty much full time Life Skills and throw him in full time general ed.
So... my need for advice. I really have no idea how to fight this or what the best arguments are to use in an attempt to keep him in his current school. Also, if anyone has children with similar abilities I would really love to hear what their school environment is like.
Thanks so much,