Dream A Little Dream
by Shannon Aronin on June 9th, 2015

​Last week my Boo got rejected by a private school for special needs. They felt they couldn’t handle his behaviors, but made sure to tell me how brilliant he was. I was crushed. I even started writing this pity party of a blog post on rejection. But when God closes a door…

Today we went to check out another non-public school with the district. It’s not terrible for what it is, but I just can’t do it. “Quiet rooms,” occasionally kids need to be restrained, and a bit of difficulty articulating their approach. Sat on it for several hours and the husband and I have reached a decision – NO. There has to be a better way.

So now what? We appear to be out of options, public, private doesn’t matter. What do you do when there is no appropriate placement? Well, they are going to have to make one. It’s going to take a little longer, and he won’t start at the same time because we hit the end of the year and there is no more time for IEP meetings. But we are going to work with the District to create a super special plan just for my boy.

The thing is that’s still not quite right. Everyone who works with him knows academics are not our biggest priority right now. I’m not willing to make it a zero priority either however. It also has a big effect on his behavior. So next year if we get a personal licensed teacher/BCBA, Speech, OT, Counselling all at school, plus social skills training provided by the school, he would get to be a part of his grade level class for all the non-academic stuff. His lessons would be with a 1:1 teacher on campus. This is all still the genesis of an idea, but initial feedback from the district staff member I spoke with about it, as we bounced ideas together, was good.

That’s still not enough. We also want him to have true peers to learn with. So now what? Well, I am going to propose that the SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area, fourteen school districts pool resources for special education) form a pilot program for 2e (twice-exceptional, gifted & learning disabled/other mental illness) learners.  The need is there. We can start small with one class; we only need four kids to start. We have national experts locally. I’m not even sure how to do this yet, but I know that it will involve presenting to the entire group of school superintendents. I know it will take at LEAST a year to get it fully set up. I know that initial feedback on the idea is positive. The funny thing is I have a lifelong dream of starting a school. This isn’t what I pictured, but it is what is needed. I’ve never shied away from changing the world before, and I see no reason to start now!

I’m envisioning a 4:1 ratio, mixed age class. All teachers and aides would have BCBAs. They have a BCBA who works with them present at all times including lunch and recess and gym. Significant ABA (applied behavior analysis) behavior modification, but you would leverage their brainiac interests as tools. It would have to provide significant opportunity for movement and creativity and student driven learning. Plus all the pull out services and a real social skills training program on site. We can base this on other successful models nationally. That’s the extremely basic sketch and I want it to be pretty well grounded in research on what works for this population. I am so frightened. I don’t know how to do this. What if I am biting off more than I can chew? What if I fail?

On the other hand, the more important and magical question is, what if I don’t? Let’s do this!


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