Friday, December 30, 2011

Do they want him?


If you are a regular reader here (I think I might have at least 3) then you know that Limefreckle Jr. has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. I've written in the past about our struggles finding appropriate help for him. We tried the regular public school system in the beginning......I will never forget the words of a speech therapist I used to consult with (Dr. Jim MacDonald, find his website here) when I asked him if we should consider sending Limefreckle Jr. to kindergarten....he said "do they want him?".....well of COURSE they want him....that was my thought at the time. This is public school, he is entitled to go....every child is entitled to an education....that's what the Ministry of Education tells us.....what a silly question!

Fast forward several years, and much frustration later....Dr. Jim was completely right......in my opinion, the number ONE factor that will help to determine if your child succeeds, is if he is WANTED. It's been 3 years since we left the public system, and I realize that he was NOT wanted. No one would tell me that of course, that would be wrong......and while it might be the intent of our government that every child be integrated into the regular school system, the school that we unfortunately chose to attend, did NOT have that attitude. There were good teachers, don't get me wrong, some really GREAT teachers there....but the overwhelming attitude of the people that make the decisions, the school board, and the heads of this school, was that he should be sent off to a segregated class, something I fought vehemently against.
We finally ended up finding a private school that specializes in children on the spectrum. Switching to this school was one of the biggest decisions of our life.....it meant a 2 hour commute each day to get him there (we have since moved closer), it meant he would no longer be integrated with "regular" children.....it meant we had to pay for education, there were a lot of unknowns, but we took a leap of faith, and have never looked back.

Limefreckle Jr. is SOARING! Oh, don't get me wrong, it hasn't been easy. We've been there 3 years now, and there have been lots of bumps, and probably will continue to be bumps....but the one major difference, the one thing that I am CONVINCED is the reason he is succeeding, is because he is WANTED!  The public school put a whole lot of effort into trying to find reasons that he wouldn't succeed with them. We had meeting, after meeting, AFTER MEETING,  with a whole lot of people,  sometimes people I had never even met, nor do I think had my son,   to talk about all of his problems. We talked a lot about what we were doing for him outside of school.  I brought in experts, I hired someone to come and help me to deal with the school.  No stone was unturned.   The only thing we never really seemed to uncover was a concrete plan to help him succeed.  We were told that there should be further testing done, he needed a battery of tests actually, to determine what was wrong (I guess autism wasn't enough for them).  I am so thankful that I trusted my instincts and I DIDN'T listen to them.  I was confident that there was nothing further wrong with Limefreckle Jr.   I was very confident in the doctors and specialists that I had consulted with up until then.   What I did learn,  and it took me a few years away from the situation to learn it, is that the experts in public school really didn't know WHAT to do.....and it was easier for them to conclude that something more must be wrong with HIM, rather than to find out how to best handle the situation. 

Now he is in the right place, with the right people, who really know what they are doing, and who really WANT to be there.

This Christmas, the school surprised us at the Christmas concert, with a song recorded by all  the kids at a recording studio.  I can tell you my eyes filled up with tears when they played that song for us.   Each family was given a copy of the song, and a video of their child recording the song....here is Limefreckle Jr., a child that we once wondered whether he would ever speak.....the child you see here has some FANTASTIC teachers that really want him, and as a friend of mine said, clearly teach from the heart...... their dedication and love for him is unbelievable, and I truly feel  he will accomplish great things.....

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