As the parent of a child with a disability, I face difficult decisions all the time. I choose doctors, therapists, and caregivers. And I choose school settings.
As mandated in IDEA (the federal law ruling special education), public school systems must offer a continuum of placements for children who have disabilities. These placements include segregated classes for children with significant disabilities to general education classes with a few special education services—and everything in between. It’s up to the ARD Committee to decide which setting is most appropriate for my child.
With children, like my daughter, who need a lot of support throughout the school day, the school will recommend a special education self-contained class.
Teachers reason that the child will get the one-on-one time she needs—that she will benefit from the specialized instruction available to her there. The educators say she will be safe—away from other kids who are bigger, faster, and who might bully her. They reason that the curriculum will move along at a pace that is good for her. They explain that the special therapies that she needs are available there. And everyone around the table agrees that the self-contained class is the best fit for her.
But it seems that the committee has failed to think about a few very important things.
As parents, we must carefully weigh our options before just agreeing to a self-contained recommendation. We must be thoughtful in deciding what setting is right for our children.
The mother of a child who is nonverbal tells the story of a day when her daughter made some crazy demands, and the mother obliged.
Even the best thought out plans can go wrong, especially with changes in our children's schools.