Choice of School - Have we done the right thing?

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Mattsmum
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09 Apr 2008, 11:06 am

My son starts reception year in September (he is 4 1/2 yrs old and has aspergers). Rather than attending our neighbourhood school (just round the corner and where he went to pre-school) we have decided to send him to a smaller, village school a few miles away as they have experience supporting autistic/asperger children and are very welcoming. The school does not have the best academic record due to having 30% pupils with special needs but our overriding concern was to send him to a school where he would feel safe and supported. I now wonder whether I am doing my son a disservice and if I am underestimating his ability, not just to cope, but to be happy and do really well. I am hoping that the village school will allow him to fulfil his potential. He is very bright and in some of his assessments was scoring in the 98th and 99th percentiles (ie. scores for a 7 or 8 year old). He has some sensory issues and has previously found it difficult to play with other children, so I was worried that sending him to the local school (it is bigger and more academic), would be too pressurised for him. However, over the past six months, he has progressed really far, and is interacting really well with other children. Most of his friends are going to the local school. I think I am worrying too much (as per usual!) but I wonder whether I have made the right choice. I would welcome your thoughts. Thanks.



ster
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09 Apr 2008, 11:17 am

IMO, I think you need to consider more than just their academic record.....are the staff knowledgeable in ASD's ? Does the school atmosphere seem warm and inviting ?....Have you talked to parents of students who go there?



DevonB
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09 Apr 2008, 11:48 am

The way I look at it is like this....I put my son in positions where he can succeed. I know that at times he astonishes me. I watch him and think that he can accomplish anything. I wonder if it's my own concerns and worries that hold him back. I have seen him start to blossom.

However, I do recall when there were too many issues to contend with, and I wondered if he'd ever be able to come out of his coccoon. His sensory issues were so overwhelming. With the help of his caregiver, and a wonderful teacher (we held him back) who took the time to understand our little man, he can read now, and interacts well with other children.

We recently came across a new teacher that didn't know his background and started writing letters home about his inability to concentrate, his fidgeting in class, his pedantic comments and such. He is exceptional in math...until this new teacher came along. For example...he tried to wear a watch to school without telling me. By the time math arrived, he needed to take it off as it was too much for him. And the teacher told him to leave it alone and focus on his work. This, is impossible. He could no more ignore that watch than an NT child could ignore a nosebleed. By the end of the class he was near tears and hadn't done any work.

So when you wonder what's better for your child? Love him, and help him succeed. Learning right now, all the fundamentals are far more important to succeed, than being in a "normal" school.

Cheers!



KimJ
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09 Apr 2008, 12:16 pm

It may take a while to see how their academics affect your son. My son went an "excelling" school with really great programs, but didn't know one thing about autistic people (or denied knowledge). He simply wasn't able to attend class. By 1st or 2nd grade, you should be able to tell if they are wasting his time and/or teaching "down" to him and discouraging intellectual growth.



DW_a_mom
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09 Apr 2008, 12:23 pm

This may sound odd, given your son's age, but have you tried discussing it with him? I have found my son has long been able to accurately assess the pro's and con's of situations related to his own life.

Not that he gets the final vote, of course.

I have also noticed that the problem with school choice is that you will always second guess yourself. Chalk it up as normal.

How easy would it be to switch from one school to the other? If one would be more difficult to transfer into, you may want to start there, and see how it goes?

If either school is good at "teaching to the individual child" I believe you can assume that your son will advance at his own level, and the overall placement of other children in the school won't matter a lick.

Long run, the only way to know will be to have your son start school. I firmly believe that our children can be happy and thriving in school. If your child is not, then you question the placement.


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jelibean
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09 Apr 2008, 12:28 pm

Mattsmum.....................YES!! You have done totally the right thing! A smaller enviroment with supportive staff is just what he needs. Well done you are a great mum. Just make sure that the you keep in touch with the kids in the street in other ways, it is nice to have company!

I agree with Kim, keep an eye on his academic progress though. You don't want a budding talent missed!
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Mattsmum
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09 Apr 2008, 12:35 pm

Thanks for your input. What you are all saying confirms my first instinct - the school we chose is welcoming, supportive and understanding of ASD's and that is more important than exam results (especially while he's so young).

Its hard being parent, you feel such a responsibility to make the right decision!

Its a constant balancing act - my instinct to protect Matthew versus allowing him to exceed expectations.



jelibean
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09 Apr 2008, 12:38 pm

I have sent you a pm mattsmum, hope it helps!! x :wink:



Tortuga
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09 Apr 2008, 1:54 pm

Keep an eye on it. If the kids are much lower functioning than he is, it might hold him back. My son couldn't make in public school. They stuck him in special ed and he was too bright for that, but he had too many behaviors for mainstream. I was going to fight for a private placement in an ASD school, but decided to homeschool instead. It turned out that I started taking my son to the ASD school for private therapies and I really got to see the other students and how they were lower functioning. I think my son would have picked up some of those behaviors and copied them.



BugsMom
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10 Apr 2008, 6:20 pm

I think the village school you describe sounds like a wonderful option for your son. We faced a similar issue last year when my then 5 year old son was newly diagnosed, and with the help of our home school district, we sent him to the elementary school in a neighboring district which has an Autism Support class. It has been great for my son. He is gradually mainstreaming in with the kindergarten class, and receives wonderful services.



Mattsmum
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12 Apr 2008, 5:48 am

Update: I had my meeting with the headteacher yesterday, and feel we have DEFINITELY made the right choice. The school was so small, warm and friendly and the headteacher was VERY supportive. There will be 1 teacher and 3 teaching assistants for 15 children in my son's first year. His class teacher will come and visit my son in pre-school and in our home before he starts and they will plan his transition with visits to the school and a picture book. She also told me that all children in the school are paired with a 'buddy' (older child) who looks after them at playtimes. I feel SOO much more confident now that my son will be in good hands!!



jelibean
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12 Apr 2008, 5:55 am

Well done Mattsmum, a great result. The fact that you are so happy will definately rub off onto your child. If you have trust and respect for your school then you are half way there. Keep up the good work and let us know how you go along. I did send you a pm, did you get it??

:wink:



ster
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12 Apr 2008, 7:43 am

that's great!



DW_a_mom
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12 Apr 2008, 12:07 pm

:D


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