My son, Ben, has had an IEP since he was three and was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD when he was five. He is considered to be high functioning with some language and communication delays which impede his learning and behavior capabilities, although both his learning and behavior improve as his language improves. Our primary educational direction has been within the Mehlville School District and SSD to date, and we have been very happy with Ben’s progress and care. Our experience with the IEP team has been positive and encouraging and we all see good things on the horizon for Ben in the coming year.
Still, I will continue to search for opportunities to enrich my son’s education and special education needs wherever I can find them. However wonderful my son’s experience has been thus far there are still obstacles to that success that are inherent in the system. For example, the math curriculum currently being used at my son’s school is not a model that works well for him (or for many of the other students but that’s for another time). We have had to work around the issues with the math curriculum and teach him the concepts in a way that he understands, versus the way the curriculum presents the material.
Ben is also behind his peers in reading so this summer we have tried a different reading approach than he experienced in school. Ben still struggles with reading, although we feel it is more a behavioral issue than a cognitive one as he wants to read each word perfectly, therefore he reads very slowly, and comprehension suffers. Nevertheless, we are using a different reading approach over the summer to see if there is a program more suited to his way of learning.
Ben’s language teacher and gen ed. classroom teacher are generally restricted to teaching the curriculum they are given, which obviously doesn’t work for all students. Thankfully, Ben has the language center-based classroom to go to during the day where he can have more individualized attention and focus. His teachers make adaptations when and where they can, but there are limitations to how much they can do within a general ed. classroom of 25 students, both typically developing and special needs children. This reality has led us to continue to look at other learning and enrichment opportunities for Ben which we will continue to do throughout his education.
Part of our ongoing search for better opportunities has included a two-week program at the Miriam School summer camp, which will conclude today. It seems to have been a very good experience for Ben and we are planning on continuing to be involved in after-school enrichment programs through The Miriam Center in the coming year. Although we have been happy with Ben’s public education we have not ruled out the possibility of sending him to a school like Miriam where they offer a variety of curriculums and learning tools to meet the variety of children at various levels on the upper end of the spectrum. We will be weighing all of this out over the coming year in determining where we will send Ben in the future and keeping a log of our experiences at his public school and through extra programming offered at Miriam. I welcome any input that others may have about the Miriam School and similar schools for our kiddos on the spectrum.
Talk to you again soon!