Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Next Stage-Kindergarten-It's time.

We're breaking down dealing with Autism into stages. 

The EI (Early Intervention) stage equals Ground Zero.  There is no where to go but up.  We hope.  This is a time when the child is labeled as a "Child with Delays."

The CPSE (Committee on Pre-School Special Education) Stage- The foundation has been laid by EI and Pre-School is giving the children there footing.  It's at this age that we see the potential.  We see the growth and personality.  We see a child, not a baby. We see a "Child with a Disability."

Kindergarten-This signifies the moment when the paperwork changes, when the diagnosis becomes permanent.  We feel the restriction of the label. 

Calling the only Catholic Elementary School in with a Special Education program in Brooklyn, NY:

"What is the tuition for triplets entering Kindergarten?"

I hear a sharp intake of breathe.  "Oh, bless you! Let me get the figures for you."  I can almost hear the sound of cha-ching.

The woman on the phone fairly purred an amount that made my stomach twist.  Not to be deterred, "I understand the school has a Special Education program.  What are your capabilities?"

"What is the disability?"


"I'm sorry.  We won't accept them.  We can in no way give them the care that they need.  The school is not equipped to handle that type of pers- that type of disability, a disability of that magnitude."

"What EXACTLY do you think they will need beyond normal education?  They do not have cognitive delays."

"Well,  they'll need speech.  An interpreter, the teachers are not able to deal with children that don't speak and rock."

"My children are verbal.  They do not rock uncontrollably.  They like routine.  One of them is not aware of danger, she'll have a para. Would you accept them if they all had a para?"

"No, I'm sorry. No.  You can try this school.  It's not Catholic but it's private.  They are very elite and expensive.  They may be willing to help. I'm sorry."

"Me too."

I dialed the number that she gave me.

"Can you tell me the cost of tuition for three children?  And will you accept Autistics?"

"Yes of course.  Is it just one child affected?"

"It's all three."

"Not a problem.  The cost of education for one year is $45,000 without any of the additional fees, including that it will be about 48,000."

"Thank you.  What are your class ratios?"

"All classes are 8:2:1."

"I'm sorry, I'm looking for 12:1:2 or 12:1:1 and Integrated 15. It's not a fit.  Thank you for your help."

The label of Autism was suffocating me.  We need to decide if we are going to try to get them reclassified.

We need to decide if we finally believe that these markers are always going to be here.  We need to decide what is best for them-not what we want to see.

I am so disappointed that the Catholic schools here do not have Autistic programs.  Our dream has always been to send our little ones to Catholic school in the little uniforms with the Barbie lunch boxes and book bags; to instill in them the faith that we have, to instill the values that we live at home.

I felt my eyes burning.  "God, help me.  I want them to have religion class every day.  I want them to start and finish their school day with prayer.  I want them know life like I did."  Like I did-I stopped suddenly and picked up the phone.

I called the elementary school I went to, our parish school and shockingly the principal answered.

I explained what we were looking for and what we needed.

"Of course, we'll accept them.  We will work with you on the IEP."

With a weight off my chest, I hung up and called the neurologist.  It's time to re-evaluate.  It's time to look into the neurologist's eyes and really hear her.  Should they be reclassified or do we need to keep the designation of Autism?  We're ready.

It's time.

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