Lessons learned

September 2, 2010 at 2:02 pm 12 comments

      I never knew looking for a new school for C would be such an adventure. We saw it all. Having realized that the giant public school model is no longer a fit for C, off we went to explore some pretty interesting places about as far from the neighborhood school as one could get.

     First it was the excellent charter school in a yuck part of town in an even more yuck facility. We almost left before we walked in the door. But the class C would have been in had ten kids from 4th-6th grade, and is taught by a teacher with a special education background. Very cool for the 4th grader who has some awesome math skills. The place would have been a no-brainer if it weren’t for, well, just about everything else. No specials to speak of, and the playground was beyond dismal.

     Lesson learned: first impressions sometimes are everything.

     Then came the interesting private Christian school that I have wanted to visit for two years. With less than twenty kids in the whole school, I figured C would get all kinds of individual attention. But looking at it online and visiting are two different things: it is run by a large-hearted, barefooted, grubby guy who looks and speaks like he did a few too many hits of acid in the 60s. The old house-made-church-made-school was piled with I’m not sure what, and the layer of filth worthy of a few bottles of clorox did not please my allergy-sensitive nose. It was an interesting place with interesting kids, but it wasn’t the place for my interesting kid.

     Lesson learned: apparently there is such a thing as bohemian Christianity – two words I never expected to see that close together.

     We then visited the more traditional Christian private school, with properly coiffed little ones behaving perfectly and scoring well on their achievement tests. Everything was fine until I dared mention “Asperger’s,” which sent the principal into a tizzy of, “Well, we’ll have to test him thoroughly with our resource teacher to see if he can handle the rigor before we could even consider admitting a child like him…” back-pedaling. I’m pretty sure he equates special education with stupidity, and I was non-plussed, given that C could probably out-math any kid in that school. No amount of my bringing up C’s AIMS scores, grades, or abilities got the principal back onto the “We have a wonderful school here” track. And when the principal himself pointed out how small C is right in front of him, well, that was the end of that.

     Lesson learned: good Christians do not necessarily good people make.

     Finally, there came the school we almost skipped visiting because it’s further away than we’d like. But the principal answered the questions I wanted to ask – in the way that I wanted him to answer them – before I asked them. “We have the classroom teachers go out with the kids at recess because they know our kids far better than an aide would, and they’ll know right away if there are problems,” he said just before I asked about recess. “Ms. J is a nurturing, kind teacher who has a very gentle spirit with the kids,” he said about the 4th grade teacher right before I was planning to ask about her. 

     It was a done deal before we walked out the door: this was the school. We still visited four more schools after this one, but none measured up. I find myself wondering why we didn’t switch years ago, and when I read the Principal’s welcome letter to parents, it only served to reinforce our decision. At C’s new school, “children don’t have to fit the system…[teachers] appreciate individual strengths and reinforce them with frequent praise…[children are] given the opportunities to express ideas in different ways.”

     Lesson learned: Find the place that encourages C to be the kid he is, without trying to make him be like all the other kids.


Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

It’s done So far, so good.

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scott Baird  |  September 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Well done, in my opinion.

  • 2. Becky Carpenter  |  September 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Remember what I told you about the kind of mother you are? See, another little bit of proof. I have never heard of you doing anything less than the best you can do for C. Lucky boy!!!!!!

    Enjoy your company.

  • 3. robinaltman  |  September 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Yay! Sounds like the perfect fit! I’m excited for C!

    I’ve always thought that kindness was inversely proportionate to religious fervor. Our rabbi’s wife is the biggest b– ever.

  • 4. therocchronicles  |  September 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    YES!! Sounds like a great fit! I’m so happy for you both!

  • 5. statia  |  September 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I hope it’s exactly what C needs. I’m happy for you!

  • 6. Andrea Chacos  |  September 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing your search with us! Glad you found the right place for C.

  • 7. fiona2107  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    That last school seems like just the ticket 🙂

    Oh…and….btw : the school my kids are in and I am having problems with is an Independent Christian School *sigh*

    Any parent of an NT child is thrilled with the school but ALL the parents of the Aspergers children are all struggling like us.

    I think that I assumed that being a Christian school, they would somehow be ‘magically perfect?’ but I found out pretty quickly that they are still VERY human.

    Good for you 🙂

  • 8. Erica77777  |  September 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

    That last one sounds wonderful!! Can’t wait to hear C’s reactions.

    I won’t comment on the other schools, so as not to sully this pristine comment.

  • 9. pixiemama  |  September 3, 2010 at 11:31 am

    This makes me so happy.


  • 10. Caitlin  |  September 6, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    SO happy to hear this! Keep us posted on how it’s going 🙂

  • 11. akbutler  |  September 10, 2010 at 7:34 am

    phew. Hope this was a better week for you all. And I’m impressed by your investigative work. Did you ever think it would be this hard?

  • 12. Robin  |  September 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I found your blog today and have sat and read back through January of 2010 already. You little C reminds me so much of my almost 5 year old son, also identified as AS. I often times send my friends the “funny of the day” email with my little guys -isms.

    I look forward to continuing hearing about C and following you autism journey.


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