Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dealing with School Changes & Autism

As some of you may or may not know, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last fall, which is a form of Autism. In fact, the psychological community is trying to eradicate the use of the term Asperger's Syndrome, and just call it highly functioning Autism, because they feel that a lot of people don't take Asperger's Syndrome seriously.

Two years ago, at the start of 2nd grade, Gilly got a teacher who was very observant, and realized that a lot of her "behavior" problems and general 'quirks' fit the bill for AS. After meeting and agreeing, we started the paper work for the school to test her. She was formally diagnosed last fall, and has been receiving a LOT of fantastic help from the school ever since then.

Fast forward to this Spring. The state is yet again cutting school funding- never mind that the state is actually looking at it's first year of bringing in more money than the budget currently is. This is the first year in several years that our state is looking at making a profit, instead of losing more. The new governor really feels, though, that our school age kids should lose $500 each towards the budget, and that college kids should get more of it.
Because of that, our city is losing almost $4m in budget money. They are closing down a school, a lot of people lost (or will lose) their jobs. It's a mess. It happened 2 years ago, which is how Gillian got lucky and wound up at the school she's in currently.

So, with the closing of one of the elementry schools, they have decided to turn the middle school into a 4th-8th instead of 5th-8th school. They are splitting the 4th and 5th graders into an "Upper Elementry" school in the same building- they'll have their own principal, different school hours, and be segregated from the middle school kids in 6th-8th grade.

I was not sure how to take that news- how would it effect Gillian? Would she get the same help up there that she gets now?

Turns out, her teacher, her principal, her special education teacher, and her social worker are all going up to the Upper El next year.

I'm excited- I know that new routines can be disruptive and confusing for Gillian, and couple that with a new school, and all new people, and I wasn't sure how well it would go over with her. But, she'll have the same type of break room she has now, she'll have the same core group of people around her, and I did request if it were at all possible, that she be placed with the same teacher next year. That one might be iffy- they have kids from 3 schools all coming in up there, and other new teachers, and 2 grades to work with. They did say they would definitely keep it under consideration, though.

We did her IEP for next year today, which stays basically the same. She gets breaks through out the day, does social group work to help her learn how to cope with people, that sort of thing.

On top of all of this, Gillian joined Girl Scouts this year. I'm really happy she's fitting in. I have always been hesitant to let her be in groups because I was never sure how they would react to her. A few months ago, one of her classmates invited her to join, and after talking with Gillian's teacher, I said why not? Her leader has a son on the spectrum, and has been fantastic with Gillian. The girls have really helped her, as well- she's finally in a group that I feel she's doing good in.


Crunchy Diva said...

that's great she'll have the same core people around her that is awesome. my son doesn't have AS, but has a processing disorder, auditory memory disorder & ADHD & i have to fight cut backs here all the time too very discouraging at times.

Marti said...

Sounds like it's going to be a good year for her, and you. I'm so impressed that your school worked with you so well. Our elementary school didn't want to deal with my dd.

Expressions by Heather said...

Our school has been a HUGE blessing. We have been through several school districts before this one, and have always had to fight with them when it came to our son, who has severe adhd, and is being tested for AS as well.

This school stepped up, took care of all the testing, helped us out each step of the way, and have followed through on getting her the therapies she needs, and have helped her come a long ways this year.