The Engineer had his eligibility meeting with the Child Find program of our local special education system this week. It didn’t go well – or rather, he passed all his evals with flying colors. On one hand I’m proud of him for doing really well in situations that were difficult for him. On the other hand, I’m annoyed that none of the evaluators saw the behaviors that made us call them in the first place.
If you read this blog at all, you’ll probably have figured out that the Engineer is smart. Beyond smart. What you don’t see are the behavioral issues, the language issues, the anxiety issues, and the sensory stuff that sporadically appears to mess up an already difficult situation. We know that he can’t handle a traditional classroom setting.
What do you do with a child that does great one-on-one, but falls apart in a chaotic environment? How do you keep him from triggering a fight or flight instinct that has him either running away from a teacher or worse, attacking the teacher? Yes, he’s smart. Yes, he has issues. And yes, we’re homeschooling him.
We discussed trying a shortened day with the school administrator, but they warned us that it would be a short-term fix. Within a few months he was expected to attend the full day – a 7.5 hour schedule plus bus time. For kindergarten!
“We want his horizons to widen, not to narrow more.” (Evaluator)
The school administrators and evaluators said they couldn’t do much besides put a note in his file. If the teacher saw proof of the behaviors we described then they could re-evaluate his case and provide accommodations.
Essentially, we had to let our kid fail before they would provide any type of services.
We have a problem with that. He already has anxiety and self-esteem problems. Why put him through constant failure just to get a few therapies?
That’s one screwed up system.
Interestingly enough, all of the evaluators knew in advance that we were homeschooling. One told us “we want his horizons to widen, not to narrow more” when discussing homeschooling vs traditional school. That’s such a big assumption.
Homeschooling offers such a wide variety of options – from co-ops with other kids, to field trips all over the area, to robotics clubs and science fairs. How does being locked in a room with 25-30 other kids offer wider horizons than the freedom of homeschooling? He would have to learn to obey without questions, follow in line quietly, and sit in silence a lot. This is the kid who answered “do you have your shoes on?” from the home evaluator with “why do I need my shoes right now?”
I’ve talked to moms from around here with kids in the system. I hear horror stories about “safe rooms,” and kids locked up all day because the system can’t handle them. I hear about overworked, tired, and under-equipped teachers trying their best to deal with a full classroom that includes a wide spectrum of special needs. LRE (least restrictive environment) is a set-up for failure unless there are special supports in place to help manage the extra needs.
You simply cannot expect a teacher to teach effectively while trying to control kids like mine – who can’t sit still, who talk incessantly, who are brutally defiant, and who are bored bored bored! with the level of study. I wouldn’t force that on my worst enemy.
So thanks school system, you just shot yourself in the foot. You wanted to keep my kid in the system so badly that you made it very simple for us. Let him fail or home school. Which do you think we chose?