Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Intagration, Spceial Ed, Preschool, Home School, Co Op

Navigating education for a child with special needs is tough.   It's a mix of too much and not enough at once. Always riding the line between more intervention and just being a kid.  So often feeling inadequate, that we can never do enough.  Realizing there will always be a list of things (OT, PT, and speech goals, books to read on Down Syndrome, specialists advice to impalement...) I didn't get to each night was devastating to my nieve picture of the perfect parent.  If we had to get it down to one word, I think most parents of kids with special needs would say they feel so UNQUALIFIED.

We are grateful to God for providing Claire the opportunity to learn with her "typically developing" pears for the second year now.  It seems obvious but being with pears is actually a pretty big deal and hard to negotiate for a lot of families.  We are blessed with amazing teachers and a great program in our area of Spokane.

We have no idea what next year will look like for Claire.  There are a few options.  Integrated kindergarten, private school, special ed, a combination of kindergarten and special ed, home school... Seems like it depends a lot on what the school finds "appropriate" at the end of this school year.  I don't really like to think about it.

I think we want her to be integrated for as long as possible.  It can become a big ugly fight and I want to understand what I am fighting for.  It's easy to go into this white knuckled for integration and miss what is really best.

We are raising her to be a part of society.  We want her to be able to interact in the world.  To have meaningful relationships and a purpose.  That's the big picture at least.  With that in mind, it seem imperative that she does stay with her pears.

There are always so many questions.  Will children accept her enough for integration to be a positive experience?  Will the curriculum be so far over her head that she losses her academics in a classroom? Will children in special ed have extreme behaviors that will rub off so much that she isn't appropriate in other settings?

What is really best for Claire?

I don't want to fight so hard for integration that I am lost to reality.  I want her to be in an appropriate placement.  It's not like special ed is the end of the world.  True, our first year of special ed was a bad experience but I do see some positive sides.  The one on one will give her a chance to learn things otherwise lost.

Why don't I just home school her at that point where she cant be in a typical classroom?  She comes to the preschool co op I teach for Makenna and loves it.  But I want her to graduate with people she knows, go to football games, spirit week... Do I have to choose between having a child who can relate to the world or a child who is three grade levels ahead with limited social skills?

I don't have the answers for these questions and I'm not sure anyone really does.  Each child is so different.  We will take it one year at a time.  We are constantly redefining education for Claire and at some point she will probably have an opinion too.  Can't wait to see who she is growing up to be.


  1. I love the picture!! I know what you is hard. So far it has been a wonderful experience for Ella. I think Kindergarten will be great's after that that scares me!

  2. As I wait for the next thing to come in Claire's life I am fearful and hopeful all at the same time. Fearful and hopeful for the future and plan that GOD has for her. I don't know what to expect. I don't want Claire to be ordinary but extraordinary in the plan GOD has for her. I will continue to wait and walk the path with Claire step by beautiful, wonderful, scary step. I love you Claire Joy Leitz.

  3. Completely agree. I hope I can always keep sight of the fact that what is REALLY important is that we find the place where our son is able to be happy and do HIS best. We have done one year of contained special education and it was awesome for us. This year P is in a mainstream pre-K class with support (a para and part-time special ed teacher). He's done great in both settings but some of the academics, even at this age, are just simply too advanced for him. Thankfully the teachers are willing to work with me to figure out ways to adapt activities to allow his participation. I feel like a good teacher-parent collaboration is really key to success in an integrated setting.

    I'm like you in that I don't like to (or really see the need to) look too far ahead. Who knows what he will need next year - we'll address it when it's time!