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Old 01-18-2013, 10:00 AM
 
3 posts, read 7,943 times
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Hi All,

We are considering a move to the Grand Rapids area. Can anyone tell me what their experiences have been like in the public schools for children on the spectrum? We have a son with high-functioning autism and am hoping to find a school district open to working with a sensory diet.

Thanks so much!
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:44 PM
 
Location: USA
69 posts, read 177,660 times
Reputation: 31
Unless you are able to homeschool your child, I absolutely do NOT recommend Kent County public schools. (Ionia is even worse) This was my experience:

I went to public school in Kent County up through the middle of high school before my brother and I became homeschooled. I didn't really have many issues with the schools until high school. I took an art class in 11th grade and ended up with high levels of arsenic and heavy metals in my system from the air (yes, confirmed by a doctor). I talked to the teacher and the principal about the issue and they eventually agreed to let me work in the library since I had a doctors note. But every single day when I had to go to that class for attendance and to get my project to work on, I got HELL for it. That teacher, for some reason, absolutely hated me after that and eventually basically started bullying me and making rude comments about my family (for no reason). Some of the other teachers were okay and would work with you on issues like that, but the art teachers? Forget about it. No way. In fact, every single art teacher I had from elementary to high school was a stuck up rude snob.


My brother had ADHD and learning difficulties his whole life and had a tough time with most of his teachers. In middle school, he started being bullied and none of the teachers nor the office staff would help at all. The school eventually told my parents that they should "put him on this drug" which was out of the question. (I won't even get into that whole topic) The school also started implementing a program where if a student didn't do their homework, they would be forced to spend their lunch time in a separate classroom and finish the work. That program got out of hand very quickly. My brother once left his homework in his locker, and once missed writing down 2 of the questions, and both times he had to spend lunch in a classroom by himself.

Between all of those issues going on at the same time, my parents decided to pull us both out and homeschool us. One of the best decisions they could have ever made for us. Also, most of the kids are extremely clique-ish and generally rather rude, so I never had many friends, and it's not even like I'm mean or stuck up or a jerk. Public school was the worst experience of my life. Thank God I never have to return there again.

Hope that opinion helped. Despite the schools thinking they do a good job, I honestly cannot see them doing a very good job with an autistic student - or, for that matter, anyone that doesn't fit into the little box they try to mold every kid into.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,741,219 times
Reputation: 3833
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfer-Girl View Post
Unless you are able to homeschool your child, I absolutely do NOT recommend Kent County public schools. (Ionia is even worse) This was my experience:

I went to public school in Kent County up through the middle of high school before my brother and I became homeschooled. I didn't really have many issues with the schools until high school. I took an art class in 11th grade and ended up with high levels of arsenic and heavy metals in my system from the air (yes, confirmed by a doctor). I talked to the teacher and the principal about the issue and they eventually agreed to let me work in the library since I had a doctors note. But every single day when I had to go to that class for attendance and to get my project to work on, I got HELL for it. That teacher, for some reason, absolutely hated me after that and eventually basically started bullying me and making rude comments about my family (for no reason). Some of the other teachers were okay and would work with you on issues like that, but the art teachers? Forget about it. No way. In fact, every single art teacher I had from elementary to high school was a stuck up rude snob.


My brother had ADHD and learning difficulties his whole life and had a tough time with most of his teachers. In middle school, he started being bullied and none of the teachers nor the office staff would help at all. The school eventually told my parents that they should "put him on this drug" which was out of the question. (I won't even get into that whole topic) The school also started implementing a program where if a student didn't do their homework, they would be forced to spend their lunch time in a separate classroom and finish the work. That program got out of hand very quickly. My brother once left his homework in his locker, and once missed writing down 2 of the questions, and both times he had to spend lunch in a classroom by himself.

Between all of those issues going on at the same time, my parents decided to pull us both out and homeschool us. One of the best decisions they could have ever made for us. Also, most of the kids are extremely clique-ish and generally rather rude, so I never had many friends, and it's not even like I'm mean or stuck up or a jerk. Public school was the worst experience of my life. Thank God I never have to return there again.

Hope that opinion helped. Despite the schools thinking they do a good job, I honestly cannot see them doing a very good job with an autistic student - or, for that matter, anyone that doesn't fit into the little box they try to mold every kid into.
There's no such thing as Kent County Public Schools. There's the Kent Intermediate School District, but it doesn't really oversee the public schools within Kent County.

With that being said, what school and in what district did you actually go to?
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,741,219 times
Reputation: 3833
Quote:
Originally Posted by goscarletknights View Post
Hi All,

We are considering a move to the Grand Rapids area. Can anyone tell me what their experiences have been like in the public schools for children on the spectrum? We have a son with high-functioning autism and am hoping to find a school district open to working with a sensory diet.

Thanks so much!
I've heard Kentwood Schools has a good autism program. That was a few years ago.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:07 AM
 
Location: USA
69 posts, read 177,660 times
Reputation: 31
I went to Lowell Area Schools. TERRIBLE. I'm sure not all of the schools are that bad, though. But then Forest Hills, which is supposed to be a good school system, wouldn't even consider letting me transfer into their school system. I had thought about that before I even thought about homeschooling.
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Old 08-03-2013, 06:26 PM
 
14 posts, read 42,670 times
Reputation: 10
Jenison has what is thought to be one of, if not THE, best programs for children on the spectrum, especially HFA and aspergers. My sons therapist recommended it when he heard we were looking for transition schools. Closer to metro GR, we have learned wonderful things about Lake Michigan Academy and have enrolled my son for this school year. He will attend as soon as we get moved up there, which is proving harder than we thought. In the meantime, I have decided to see how much hair I can pull out by homeschooling him through MVCA/K12 online. We will see how that goes. If he doesn't get a scholarship for LMA, I will be a full time student and a full time homeschooler. Good times. Good luck if you haven't decided on a school yet. If you have, where did you go and how is it?
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:40 AM
 
3 posts, read 7,943 times
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Thanks so much for all the responses!

Gamecaco4, we haven't moved to Grand Rapids yet. Mostly likely the move will happen some time next summer. We actually went and toured Lake Michigan Academy and absolutely loved it! I have actually thought about homeschooling for a year or two, but I am with you, a little worried if I will go nuts.

How far is Jenison from GR?
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:07 PM
 
14 posts, read 42,670 times
Reputation: 10
LMA is a wonderful school, but after going through the process, there is just no way we can afford it. Even with the highest dollar scholarships they award, we are still looking at several thousand to attend. It's just not in the books for this year.

We have not moved up there yet, probably next month (October). Looking at apartments now as our 3rd bid on a house fell through. I'm looking at Jenison for sure, though. I don't care if I have to drive 30 mins one way to take him to school. Homeschooling is proving to be wonderful for my son and me right now, but once we get up there, I am going to be looking for work. I cannot homeschool, attend college full time, work part-full time and be the parent and wife that I want to be to both my sons and my husband.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:31 PM
 
14 posts, read 42,670 times
Reputation: 10
I think we have narrowed our choices down to Walker Charter Academy, Knapp Charter Academy and Jenison Public. All are within about a 20 minute radius. All have about the same class sizes. I've heard Walker is competing quite well with Jenison as far as being good for kids on the spectrum. I am so scared to put my child with Asperger's in another public school, but there is just no other option that I know of right now. I have to start working soon.
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:00 AM
 
3 posts, read 7,943 times
Reputation: 10
Where did you get recommendations for the schools you listed? Do you know of any message boards or listservs in the Grand Rapids area for special needs families? I am trying to get more information on schools myself so that we could make a decision for our little guy. He currently has a HFA diagnosis, but is now moving towards ADHD and want to make sure it is the best fit.
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