Meeting for the Future

Yesterday was the big day… I met with Tad’s teacher, speech therapist and school psychologist to go over his goals and plans for next year.

Except that the testing for Tad’s reevaluation isn’t done yet, so this is just the first meeting of this whole deal, because there will probably be another one, maybe two, before school ends to get all of this figured out.

Bottom line: Tad is a very bright and engaging little boy who needs a full day at school next year.  So… the consensus is that since I have visited the transitional kindergarten and he is not ready for that program, he should stay in the CLC and go into first grade.

I brought up the fact that I have been saying repeatedly and often (which his teacher noted), that I have always intended that Tad would repeat kindergarten, so couldn’t we just do an extended day kindergarten for him next year?

Apparently not, since Tad’s autism isn’t so severe that he even qualifies for the extended day program.  However, in first grade, the district is fully funded for Tad and he gets a full day.

So, I said, then he’ll repeat first grade.

And then everyone looked at me and said, “Why?”

At that point, I think my brain exploded.  As his teacher said, “Well, since he’s going to be within the system until he’s 21, does it really matter if he repeats a year or not?”


I have repeatedly and often said that Tad was going to repeat a year.  I was hopeful that he would repeat kindergarten in the transitional program, but since he’s not ready for that level, and frankly, I’m very happy keeping him in the CLC (where he can be a standout student, instead of a frustration to a teacher with a larger class who will expect him to sit at a desk and pay attention).  Apparently, Tad’s teacher was under the impression that I was only aiming to have him repeat so that he could go into TK, and then into a general education classroom.

That wasn’t it.

Tad’s birthday is August 12th.  His late summer birthday worked out ideally when he finished the county’s birth-to-three intervention program and enrolled at Sorenson, our district’s special ed preschool.  And I had initially pushed for him to stay at Sorenson for another year.  But when his teachers and speech therapist at the time said, “He’s learned all he can here,” I was okay with letting him go on to the CLC kindergarten… with the caveat that he WOULD repeat kindergarten.  He is so young.  If he had been a normally developing kid, NOT ONE PERSON IN THAT ROOM would have blinked an eye if I had said, “No, I really don’t want him to start kindergarten until he’s 6.”  Granted, he didn’t have the autism diagnosis until the end of the last school year, so I wonder what would have happened if I had really insisted on that extra year at Sorenson with the new diagnosis.  Oh, well.  That’s water under the bridge now.  The reality now is: I want him to repeat a year, and I don’t care if it’s kindergarten or first grade, HE NEEDS THAT EXTRA YEAR.

And when his teacher reiterated the point about him staying in the school system until he’s 21 (which I know and accept that he will most likely be a part of), I replied that it wasn’t the age that he graduates from high school that I was concerned about – it was the age that he enters junior high that I want to address.

Once Tad leaves elementary school, the CLC at the junior high level is very different.  Tad will HAVE to interact on a very regular basis with “neurotypical” kids in classes like P.E. and other electives.  There will not be the same type of CLC environment.  He needs that extra year to have a chance at developing more peer-appropriate social skills, and, as I said, “I’m hedging my bets and having him repeat that year when he’s 6, not when he’s 11, to give him the time to develop so that he can be just that much older when he hits junior high.”

When I pointed all of this out, there began to be nods of understanding.  All these professionals, who were looking at the crazy mother who knew that her son was academically ready for first grade, began to make sense when Tad’s obvious social delays were brought up.  Suddenly, it became about buying Tad more time to get ready for junior high.

However, that’s not their call to make.  The district’s head of special ed now has to be brought in, since it is rare to have a child repeat a grade in the CLC, since the academics are so individually tailored to each child.  Tad is meeting kindergarten grade level in reading, no problem, but is not up to grade level in math.  How many times will I have to say this?  He needs this extra year. And by hook or by crook, I am going to make sure he has it.

His teacher said that she understood where I was coming from… so there will most definitely be another meeting.

When I left this one, I noticed that my jaw hurt and my head had started to ache.  I had been clenching my teeth so hard that I’d given myself a major headache and jaw pain.

Maybe I should get a mouth guard for the next meeting.

3 Responses to “Meeting for the Future”

  1. Grandma
    May 11th, 2011 06:29

    The school district has a wonderful program for special needs kids, and many great teachers. This being said, they have to work within a prescribed system. You, however, are Tad’s primary teacher and foremost advocate. You know him best. Keep it up – we are proud of you.

  2. Aunt Lynda
    May 11th, 2011 08:21

    Yes, a mouth guard might be a good investment, because you are going to need it for a long time. There are so few parents who really advocate for their children; who leave it to the professionals and their boxes. But you know him best. An August birthday, especially a boy, always needs an extra year, and it needs to be early. Not many exceptions, in my book.

  3. Cousin Shelley
    May 11th, 2011 08:34

    Makes sense to me, how is something so apparent not obvious to the educators/professionls? Are you really the first family to ever address this? Good luck with round 2!