Posted by: 15specialneeds | May 25, 2011

Back in the Saddle…

Hi Dear Ones,

Well it has been an eternity, and that lovely saying, often quoted to me by my mum, (probably when I was a horrible teenager) ‘don’t say anything, unless you have something nice to say’ applies to ‘don’t write anything unless you have something nice to write’.  Which is why my blogs about Luke have been none existent for the months of November to March. As I mentioned in a previous blog, life was pretty horrible when we moved and needed to place Luke in our new school district. I found myself being one of those parents who I read about on special needs news groups, who moan and groan at the lack of care and services their children receive from the school districts. We had been in a happy place at our previous district, so I really did not see what all the fuss was about, and put it down to parents having too many expectations. Well, that last laugh was on me, as I walked into the class room where Luke was supposed to go, and found that his teacher was wheelchair bound. It seemed like some cruel irony. There were seven children, Luke was number 8 and there were two aides.  How was this going to work for my little guy who can fall down, by just standing?  I had started to cry before I even left the room! I was all consumed and couldn’t face writing about him or anything.

Then on that first visit, I was told the class was going to be moving to another site, and that all the children from this class would move to the afternoon class. How was this going to work when Luke napped from one to three in the afternoon?  This was all going to happen after Christmas. Fortunately for me, the other parents practically started a riot.  I don’t know why I was so special, but I had the Director of Special Education, visit Luke and myself. So all this crazy stuff happened before Christmas, but I was told he would be in the morning class, he could go 5 mornings, there was a new teacher, and about 7 children – thank goodness. I had my lovely family from Perth arriving for Christmas, and all I could think about was Luke and school.

So, we turn up on January 3rd and there are 10 children, but at 10.30am  the ‘afternoon’ children come in taking the number to about 15 children, and the teacher who is wheelchair bound running the class. There was complete utter chaos in the room. Holy ….! Now the fun was going to start. I decided that I could not let Luke go everyday – that was impossible, and keeping him there 3 hours, not good, so I took him for 2 hours. The look on that boys face when I left him, I would either cry in the car, or feel sick. So why did we do it? Well, this is where it all goes a bit crazy when you have a special needs child. The children get out of early intervention at three years old, and the school districts then provide the funding for the services they require. But they have no money, so the developmentally based services your child gets stop, and services focus on ‘learning’.  But the schools have no money. Then started that emails, and the meetings and discussions. Also, you need to be compliant with the school district and let them get to know your child, so that you have adequate grounds later for suing them for private school placement. What are the alternatives? Well, very few it seems. I went to look at two private programs, one all the way in San Jose, and the other in Redwood Shores. I had Luke evaluated at the program in Redwood Shores. It is called Associated Learning and Language Specialists. In the meantime, the District felt they should try to transfer us back to Redwood City School District, then it took them 2 weeks to say ‘no’ they were full.

While this was going on we felt it would be an excellent time for us to have Luke independently evaluated thoroughly by a clinical psychologist, (we are just waiting for her report). So that we could have a clear and precise record of the best way for Luke could learn. It was then going to be hard to get her in the class to observe for one reason or another. ALLS came back and said they would take Luke! Simon and I were not at odds, but perhaps on a different page on how we moved  ahead. Do we just move him and fund ourselves, or sue the district? Oddly  enough we made the decision one night in early March. Simon was in Korea, and it was late at night here and it was not one of those conversations where some one is moving or in a hurry.  I was telling him some other miserable story about school and he said, ‘**&^%$$, let’s move him right now”! It was the happiest sentence I have ever heard!

So on March 21st, he started his new program and he is so happy there. He is in the ‘Jellyfish’ room, with 5 other children and 3 teachers and a support aide. I walk away feeling HAPPY. Is it perfect for the small fortune was are paying, not quite, but by comparison to the school district, my happiness and confidence that he is in the right place, it is worth it. In all honesty, my classroom expectations are not over the top. As long as he is safe, happy and with qualified people who love what they do, learning is a bonus.

So, during this time, I was wondering if I was having a nervous breakdown. I kept wondering what one actually felt like and if I would know I was  having one. The Oxford Dictionary describes one as ‘a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression or anxiety’.  I honestly thought of seeing the doctor to get anti-depressants , but couldn’t find the time or the motivation, and did consider that it was perhaps time to have some serious therapy myself (just to add to the therapy bills).  But I will leave this conversation for another day! I hope you excuse the fact that some of the future blogs I write may not focus on Luke – but some of my rambling observations on life and things that happen in this wonderful household and life!

We are in a good place.

Rachel xx

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