What is better…being a passive participant in a group that’s over your head or an active participant in a group that moves at your pace? Now what if the group that is over the child’s head is giving this great thing called socialization?
We have had two different people observe Courtney in her classroom. One of her private therapists and our advocate. The both reported to us almost the exact same thing. Courtney is doing better than we expected. We expected Courtney to be very overwhelmed by the larger group. We expected her to be all over the place, frustrated and aggressive. That is not the case and we are very happy about that. BUT…what was also observed was a little girl pretty much being babysat while a group of typical kids are being taught. A little girl that need a great deal of assistance to participate in a curriculum that is over her head. A little girl who thrives on visuals but not given the visuals she needs to progress. A little girl who is still trying to learn how use a communication system but not given the modeling to help teach her. Don’t get me wrong, I want Courtney to learn how to handle being a part of a group of other children. I also like the idea of her to making friends. But it is also important to me that Courtney is more than a passive participant. It is important to me that she learns independent. It’s important to me that Courtney learns to communicate! Research may show that inclusion is the way to go right now, but there is also a lot of research that shows early intervention and intense 1-1 instruction is what children with autism need. Yes, part of her day at school includes a more intense structured setting, but it bother’s me that she is spending the majority of her time at school in a setting that is over her head. In a setting where she is not getting her needs met.
The two observations and the IEP meeting have left me feeling that we have put Courtney in a daycare setting with an hour of 1-1 instruction. Am I wrong for being against that? I was so frustrated last night after the meeting because I felt like a bad mom for being more frustrated with what they are not doing for Courtney instead of being happy about her being able to handle this setting. I’ve was asked by several people today how yesterday went and I made sure I said that there was some good things but some bad things. I really want to let the good out weigh the bad, but when talking about my daughter’s education and even future, I can’t push the bad aside. I’m not okay with Courtney being a passive participant in this crazy world. I want more for her.
So where does that leave us? We shared our concerns with her team and stressed that we want more accommodations. We plan on also meeting again with the hope that our concerns were addressed and we are seeing more of her needs being met. In the mean time, I will also celebrate the fact that this placement that we were completely against has taught us that she can handle more than we thought. Mommy is so proud of you, Courtney!