School or No School?

FROM GERD: A recurring issue when I talk to families from all over the world is whether or not to leave a child in school or pull a child out of school, either when beginning a Son-Rise-Program or considering when to place a child into school or considering running a part-time program.
Following the Son-Rise Developmental Model & Curriculum is very helpful when determining the consideration of school. When a child reaches stages 4-5 in all four fundamentals the steps to take for preparing your child for school are clearly laid out in the Developmental Model. (Download the latest version on the Autism Treatment Center of America website.)

To further help you determine the consideration of school or no school, I want to pass on a few very helpful points.

1) If your child is already in a school setting when you begin your program, it is extremely important that you observe your child in the school environment the entire time that your child is there. One “red flag” is when a school does not allow you to observe or allows you only to observe a certain segment. Insist on watching the entire time, the life of your child depends on it. Play “bug on the wall” and quietly take detailed notes in a way that you don’t present a distraction for you child. It is most effective to observe class room time, recess, lunch time and/or any other circumstances like Speech therapy sessions etc.

2) Bring a precise watch or clock so that you can time exactly how much and how often your child makes eye contact with the teacher/aide or with other children present.

3) How often and for how long is your child left “idle” or left to his/her own devices without getting any attention?

4) For how long and how often is your child given quality 1:1 attention?

5) When given attention, are any requests made of your child against his/her will?
Are the requests made at the level of your child’s ability/or needs or do you hear the same old “what color is this?” questions, knowing that your child has know his/her colors for a long time.

6) How many times and how often does your child hear the phrases “no…you can’t do this…don’t touch that”…etc?

7) When another child approaches your child or vice versa, is social interaction encouraged or discouraged? Is someone present for the social interaction, helping and guiding both children?

8) When your child takes care of him/herself by isming, how do teachers/aides respond to it? Is your child allowed to ism, does someone join your child? Is your child given “time out” while isming?

9) When your child verbally communicates or expresses his/her wants, or raises his/her hand in order to participate, is your child responded to with excitement and enthusiasm? When your child is giving the “wrong” or “incorrect” answer, is your child encouraged to try again, or just ignored?

10) Are the teachers/aides flexible enough when your child changes the subject or either wants to continue or stop an activity, or is your child “pushed” to move on with the rest of the class?

It has been the experience of many families when following these guidelines that it became self-evident and self-revealing whether or not the school setting/environment is suitable for their children. In the end most families knew without a doubt what was the best for their child and they felt clearer, more confident, well informed and more comfortable making their decision.

Remember the Son-Rise Program is not only a child-centered program, but also a parent-directed program.
YOU the PARENT(S) are the best experts on YOUR CHILD and on what is the most motivating environment for YOUR CHILD.
YOU the PARENT(S) are calling the shots when it comes to where and how you want to work with YOUR CHILD. Take charge, stand up for what YOU want. You can only be intimidated when you let yourself be intimidated. Seeing with your own eyes and listening with your own ears are the most reliable tools to determine what meets the needs of YOUR CHILD.


4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, thank you for emphasizing the importance of parents being involved and knowledgable about their child's education. However, as I teacher, I would like to give a different perspective to the readers. Often in special education classrooms, there are very high-needs and sensitive students. Having an unfamiliar person in the room may totally throw off their day…causing tantrums, confusion, and distractability. That is why I myself and many other teachers prefer that parents plan with them ahead of time a day and time that will be the least intrusive to the other students. This does not mean that parents have to be uninformed. I would encourage parents to stay in contact with teachers via phone, email, communication logs etc. I encourage teachers to take pictures of students at school to give to parents, take detailed notes about the student's day, and track information that is important to parents.

    Also, and most importantly, I think everyone should understand that most teachers chose this profession because they love special children. They want to help your child so much that they've dedicated their life and career to that task. It is such a blessing to teachers when parents approach them with an positive attitude of working together, rather than an attitude of suspicion.

    You are absolutely right that parents should be informed and remain an integral part of making decisions about their child's education. But, please remember that teachers can be great allies and also want what is best for your child. 🙂

  2. India Downing says:

    My husband and I attended the Dec. 09 Start UP program. While we were still at the Institute we knew we had to pull Saxton out of pre-school. While the team in place at his school genuinely did care about him and want him to succeed, we knew somehow that he would be lost in the mix and shuffled through each grade, all the while feeling overwhelmed and unable to really grow and prosper.
    While it has been difficult financially for my husband to stay home with Saxton, we're rewarded every day for our decision! We're just starting to recruit volunteers, Saxton's mainly been home just with his Dad for the past 5 months, and he's ALREADY obviously better! By better I mean, more comfortable, more engaged, more relaxed, more language, and so much laughing and fun!
    A month ago Saxton's pre-school teacher invited us to come in for a visit because his class mates genuinely missed him. How could I say no to that? So I brought him in for a quick visit. While it was heart warming to see his class mates' excitement to see him, he instantly withdrew into intense isming like we haven't seen at home in months. It was bitter sweet really, bitter to see how uncomfortable he is at school and think of all the wasted time he spent there, but sweet as in sweet redemption. I am now more than ever confident we made the right decision!
    Be brave, make the sacrifice, and you will be rewarded!

  3. Nicole schumacher says:

    I have experienced very special teachers to be my greatest alli when it comes to helping my son integrate in school. I ran a highly successful Son-Rise Program first. When it came time to integrate my son in school, I developed an incredibly close relationship with his teachers. Rather than approaching the school in a suspicious manner, i decided to embrace them, not judge. this opened up doors to have my Son-Rise staff go into the classroom and help everyone, not just my son. It workd out for everyone when we approach schools and teachers with respect and acceptance.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It's good that some teachers are caring and develop a feeling for their students. In our personal experience I can not feel the same. When I said to his teacher to praise or celebrate when he makes eye contact, she informed that only said "thank you" (indiferent way) and keeps going. I tried to be very involved but the school restricts a lot for parents to access the classrooms. My son had a very recent incident of biting for three times and three weeks in a row, I sent a mail after the second bite in a very emotional and direct letter. I asked them to protect my son, and they allow him to move him to a different classroom, and his new teacher is very resistant even to have a meeting with me and talk about her dinamic in the classroom (even to visit the classroom). Comments are very welcome. Names of schools that allow Son-Rise program thinking if would be really appreciated. Otherwise, there is one choice for us Son-Rise Homeschool.

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