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Old 04-23-2010, 07:05 AM
Location: Loudoun County, VA
1,148 posts, read 3,368,707 times
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My son has been diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician as having PDD-NOS and as having autism by the school system. He attends an "unspecified" early childhood special education class five mornings a week. He has no academic issues (he is very smart), his issues are more on the social and speech aspect. I would call him highly functioning but I guess he's a little too young for that.

We had a parent-teacher meeting yesterday and the teacher suggested that we might want to go observe the autism classroom and see if that is something our son might get more out of. The class he is in now has a 1:4 teacher-student ratio and the autism classroom has a 1:2 ratio. According to his teacher, he might do better with more individual attention, especially at this early stage (he is turning 4 soon).

He is doing great in his current classroom but according to his teacher, there are a couple of kids who seem to get my son a little worked up (he joins them in running in circles and other behaviors they're trying to get rid of). My son also seems to notice as soon as the teachers are looking away and gets in trouble.

Anyway.. We're really torn on the idea of sending him to an autism classroom. On one hand, he would get so much more individual attention and therapy since they have a speech therapist and an occupational therapist there two full days per week. The school day would also be longer by two hours which we think he might like (he loves school!). This class also takes mini field trips to the grocery store etc. to learn public behavior. On the other hand, I'm afraid of sticking him in a classroom where some of the kids might be low functioning. It also feels like a "life sentence" to put him in an autism classroom, though his teacher said there is always the possibility of moving to a different class once he learns more social skills etc.

Has anyone had to deal with the same decision? I'm going to observe the autism classroom for sure, I just have no idea what to expect. Sorry for the long post, any help is appreciated.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:29 AM
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Hi EuroExpat,

Firstly, no placement is a life sentence, but should meet your child's needs.

Secondly, given the limited nature of a post, I would say the following. You want to find the "least restrictive environment" that your child will benefit from, especially if he is high-functioning. I would personally go and observe the Autism classroom and see the functioning level of the other students. If I found that my child would be the highest functioning and other than an extra student-teacher ratio, there would be little benefit for him, I would then look to place him in the other class and address my concern for his specific needs in the IEP.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:38 AM
Location: lumberton, texas
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I have not gone through this myself, but I have been doing a lot of reading and talking to different people lately.
IMO: It matters greatly on the school and how involved you will be. I have a friend that works as an assistant in an autism class if VA. They say they have a 2:1 ratio but it is 1 certified teacher and 2 assistants. The kids functioning level is dramatically different, from high to low. because of this the high functioning typically get a little less attention. On the other hand I have read about a couple of really good public schools and how they seperate.
If you have someone as an advocate to help you through the process and you know for sure your son can easily be put back into regular "modified" classes later, will still be taught core curriculum and challenged, I see nothing wrong with it.
how old is he? Early childhood where I live is pre-k through 1st grade, where I used to live it was just pre-k and k.

The occupational and speech therapy is a big plus! I have spent a small fortune on my son in the last couple of years because with him in regular classes he has to meet certain criteria. He has been in and out of speech through the public school since he was around 3. they will put him in then he reaches the mark, they pull him out, he regresses, goes back in......
every time they test him for occupational he is right at the mark, so we have never gotten that service.
Good luck!
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:40 AM
Location: Loudoun County, VA
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Thanks for your responses! DS is turning four and has been in his special ed preschool class since January. As for the other kids in the autism classroom, his teacher said that it will change in the fall (like all classes change). I remember her saying a couple of months back that the class they have now is "not good", meaning the kids are lower functioning. This is definitely a concern for us since we'd like him to have someone to look up to, another kid who talks more etc. Like I said, academically there is nothing wrong with him and he is actually way ahead of his typically developing peers in that aspect. I think I'll just go and observe the class and see what happens.
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:50 AM
Location: Loudoun County, VA
1,148 posts, read 3,368,707 times
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So I observed the autism classroom today and decided to keep DS in his current placement. The kids were much less functioning (except two that are moving on to kindergarten). I'm glad I observed though, now I don't have to wonder about it anymore.
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:31 AM
Location: Edison, NJ
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I can understand the frustration. It is good that you saw the class. Hopefully it is getting better for you. We been having meetings after meeting over simple request as having a rough copy of the IEP for next year so that we know what we are agreeing and signing instead of just signing the IEP. We had the last doctor try full mainstreaming to challenge him but they refuse that too and want to ease him in. He is going half inclusion and help primary autistic program for K. Oh well. Hopefully we will solve all on our final meeting of IEP next week.
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