Mom: “What can you share about your special ed program, and the transition into middle school (my son has high functioning autism)?”
Administrator:” We treat them ‘normal’ … ” (in fairness, they did finish the sentence but I turned off.
Mom: “You mean … because they ARE normal, right???” (sidebar: very out of character for me to respond that way but SERIOUSLY?! This is a parent orientation.)
Yes, this was the low point of my first visit to the (now potential) future middle school for our little guy in the fall. It started off great – upbeat, positive, good info. Administration and student speakers talked about working hard to make the middle school transition a great one for the kids and talked about how they accomplish that.
But no special ed info at all. None. As it wrapped, they pointed out someone to answer questions. I wish they had not … I was feeling pretty good. That little snippet above was the jewel of the exchange. It did neutralize a bit after that, but basically this person seemed to think it was sufficient to tell a parent of a child with special needs that they will be in a ‘normal’ classroom and the teachers are experienced. Nothing about transitions, or IEPs, or how their curriculum is modified, etc etc. Any actual questions … I should schedule an appt for those. Apparently parent orientation was not the right place to address these things.
So I stewed as we toured the sixth grade classrooms, ruminated while we hit the gym, and was about to re-approach for a second attempt. Can’t leave this bad taste in my mouth about the school I thought. And thankfully the next person I asked the same basic question was so kind, and very helpful. And the information was encouraging. It’s not that the school couldn’t address my concerns – its that the spokesperson did it horribly. Which brought me right back to our gifts … know what they are and play to your strengths. Of all the people they could have assigned to speak to new parents, I KNOW there was someone who had a gift for connection and engagement that could have left us feeling so different.
So how do I feel … frustrated! disappointed! I hoped for so much more – like encouragement, a supportive middle school team, partners. And it may be there yet … but not the ‘first look’ I wanted. But before I drive myself nuts
I am going to just breathe … and go to my happy place
(as depicted by a wonderful artist and friend, Clayton Singleton, in this great painting.)