Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We interrupt this program

I haven't gotten the chance to update you all on how Angela is doing lately.

Angela is doing fantastic! While we still have plenty of moments where we scratch our head and wonder where some out of the blue behavior has come from, for the most part, she has made great strides in this area! She is better about expressing her wants and needs in order to avoid a blow up (this is a HUGE step!). Her behavior is far from perfect, but it's definitely improving.

We've been thinking hard, and talking to school staff about future plans. Next year, eighth grade, is Angela's "transition year", when we start planning for what she'll be doing when she gets out of high school. It's good timing, since she's due for her 3 year assessments next year.

So let me backtrack a bit. When Angela was in 1st grade, she missed a lot of stuff due to poor decisions on the part of her special ed teacher at that time. I put her in a different school the following year and had her repeat 1st grade. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I'd ever made for her. She got reinforcement in the basic skills (early reading, math, etc.) and size wise she was still the smallest in the class so that didn't matter.

What holding your child DOES do is cause them to loose a year of transition at the END of their school years. Transition is the time from when the graduate until they turn 21 or 22 (depends upon where their birthday falls.) This is where they really focus on job and life skills for independent living. With Angela's birthday, had she never repeated a grade, she would have two full years of transition training. Some kids are lucky and get almost 3. But, because she repeated a year of school, she will only have ONE year of transition time, which is really NOT enough! My friend's son is just finishing his transition training this spring, and he is NOT ready to move on, because he only got one year.

After talking with several parents who've gone before us, along with school staff, we have made some decisions.

Next year as an 8th grader she'll have her assessments done, then when the year is finished she'll move up to the high school just like she's supposed to. Only she'll be skipping ahead to 10th grade. This won't change one single thing for her as far as her education goes, because she is taught to her level, not the level of her typical peers. It will change which grade level she is connected to ON PAPER, but not which classes she attends, since in high school the classes have students from all different grades anyway. (Does that make sense?) What it DOES do, is have her graduating when she originally should have been, and getting back that year of transition training.

This took us awhile to decide. We had originally talked about doing it THIS year, but she really is not ready to move up to the high school yet. So, skipping grades when she's ready to move up anyway won't put her in a position she's not ready for.

When Angela was little, I never realized how important that transition time from graduation to release from school services was. It seemed so far away, and what's one year anyway? Now that she's older, and we have a good idea where she'll in her ability level, I see how quickly that time passed, AND how crucial those last two years can be for many kids. Some districts will not allow you to move the student back up to where they're supposed to be (which is dumb, considering they're supposed to be taught to their level and it should not affect what they're taught.) We're lucky enough to be in a district we can do stuff like this.


Tamara said...

Sounds like a good decision. I guess we'll be doing the same thing next year. Ugh.

Losing one year really isn't that bad ... read on - There's a post on NADS by a mom who had her son in K for 3 years, in first for 2 years, 2nd for one year. He is now 12 and in the 3rd grade ... but full inclusion except for math pullouts. So I think he's going to have <0 years for transition ??? Oh - and she was very defensive about it - all her idea.

JennyH said...

That is a great idea.

Hope next year goes well for her.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. I am so far behind so I decided to start here. For a family that is currently in transition, I think you made a GREAT decision.