Preparing MJ for Middle School (Part 1)

Ok…I have to write about this in parts because I get way to anxious when I think about it…

MJ will be going to middle school in August (Jesus, help me).  As I have said several times before, I teach middle school and so I think I am even more nervous than the normal parent (I have just seen too much).  He will be in a self-contained classroom for the majority of the day and will be taught the major subjects in that room.  He will attend “regular” classes for PE, Art, and Music.  Due to our schedules I have no choice but to place him in before care.  I have been trying to get him into a before care since MARCH! I thought about placing him in the “regular” before care but after one visit I KNEW it was not the place for him.  There were LOTS of kids and not much organization.  It looked more like a student hangout.  There was no way on God’s green earth that I was placing him there!  I was told that the school had a special needs before care! I went unannounced and visited them.  IT WAS AWESOME! The kids were all working on a fun activity and there was plenty of SUPERVISION.  I looked at the kid’s faces and they were pleasant.  I immediately began making phone calls to get him into that before care.  Finally after playing phone tag for weeks with the director, we made an appointment to meet.  It was required that MJ come with me to the meeting. I am happy to report that everything went well! I filled out the paperwork while MJ played on his Nabi.  We are now officially enrolled in the program.  This puts my mind at ease (a little) because I know that he will be properly supervised in the morning before school starts…One small step completed!

  

When Inclusion Goes Wrong!

Inclusion is when they “include” your special needs child into a regular classroom setting. Though there are some benefits to this, for us it’s not the right choice. While in Atlanta, one of MJ’s teachers recommended that MJ be included in a “regular” reading class. MJ was able to read but people, he was not able to comprehend what he read! Nevertheless, with the teacher’s suggestion we thought about it and decided to give it a try. Hated it! The teacher of the reading class CLEARLY had no clue what autism was. She would send home notes regarding the noises MJ would make and his inability to stay focused and stay seated. NEWS FLASH LADY, HE HAS AUTISM!  I stayed “saved” and remained a Christian until she sent home a paper with a grade of  “F” on it. At that point I turned into “Nicky from the 305” and had to go to the school and “regulate”…The teacher was not equipped to work with MJ. Even with an assistant in the room, MJ still made noises, and just could not stay on task and focus like the other kids. We have never done that again. The point is, INCLUSION INTO A “REGULAR” CLASSROOM WAS NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR OUR SON! I DIDN’T CARE WHAT THEY TRIED TO TELL ME AT THE SCHOOL. We KNOW that MJ consistently needs a small classroom setting with more than one teacher in the room. He thrives in that type of environment. As of right now, MJ attends an autism classroom at our local elementary school. It has been amazing. Maybe things will change in the future and he will be able participate in a regular classroom, but right now I have to advocate for my child and do what is best for him.

Side note: MJ attends a “regular” art class and P.E. class with the rest of his peers. A teacher is with them at all times.