This month, I was fortunate enough to have another article posted in Autism Asperger's Digest, this one a personal piece about making tough decisions and finding solutions in unlikely places. Since I received my contributor copies, I realized that the magazine would be hitting other people's mailboxes and that they might find their way to this blog.
What has happened in the months since I last posted?
When I last left you, we were worried that residential treatment was lurking on the horizon since Elias was having such a tough time. Fortunately, that option is presently off the table.
Unfortunately, you didn't get to hear about the excellent new program being offered by our school district. They had created it over that summer and Elias was one of the first students to be in it.
A New Program
It was called the High Structure Classroom, and it was for the kids at the middle school level who needed the extra behavioral support before high school. The goal of the classroom was to find that support and eventually mainstream them. In the 7th grade, Elias did well in the class. There were about eight students and four paraeducators, and he could get the one-on-one attention he needed. His grades improved significantly. For the first half of the year, things went well.
In the second half of the year, after the holiday break, we began to have some setbacks. Elias doesn't handle transitions well, and we really struggled to regroup. Toward the end of the year, with Elias still struggling and meltdowns becoming more and more common, another option began presenting itself.
In our district, we have a school that is designed specifically for kids with high behavioral needs. Not thugs and gang members, mind you, but kids like Elias. Many kids who attend that school are on the spectrum or have other "alphabet soup" conditions. We decided to keep Elias where he was for the time being.
In September, when school resumed, the high structure classroom had grown to a whopping 16 kids. While they had the same level of support, the classroom was noisier and more chaotic, and Elias didn't handle it well. I was getting phone calls every day, and before even a full week of school had passed, Elias was suspended for a week for bringing a sharp object to school.
In the two months since the beginning of school, Elias has only made it a single week without having to go home because of meltdowns and aggressive, unsafe behavior.
A couple weeks ago, we had a meeting with the full team. The specialized school was put on the table. I was initially resistant, feeling stigmatized and like Elias was being grouped in with the "bad kids." I'm sure many of you know what I mean. It's hard to realize how much help your child really needs sometimes.
Gavin (husband) and I had a tour of the school last week. Only about 40 kids attend the school and there will only be 6 kids in Elias's class, with three teacher-counselors (every staff member at the school is a counselor who has a teaching certification). There's just about a one-to-one ratio of kids to teachers at the school.
After the tour, I felt better about Elias's chances and the opportunities he could have. On Tuesday, we had an IEP meeting to change his placement. Today, Elias gets his tour and intake meeting for the school.
So that's where we're at.
Welcome to Alphabet Soup Child. I hope we can turn this site into a vibrant place once again. Sorry for dropping off the planet! On a personal note, work has been fantastic and business is booming. My writing is in demand, and I'm now the Copywriting Director for Great Professional Websites, a title I'm quite proud of (and you'll know why if you've read the Autism Digest article!).