(be warned, this is long with doses of sarcastic-crankiness in bits...but I hope you'll read on)
We're on the trail finding a suitable primary school for Rainer. My brain is in "stand-by" mode as I try to process all the different levels of specialist teachers and aides that are available to children with special needs.
We always just presumed - like most parents - that all our children would go to the local catholic schools and get a really good education not only academically, but also learn how to be compassionate Catholic boys.
Hasn't that been flipped on it's head!!!! It's no longer a "given" that Mackinley's school has the resources for Rainer. It seems Catholic Education's "philosophy" doesn't extend to the early intervention needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They still don't have an AVT (Advisory Visiting Teacher) for Autism - there's one for Intellectual Disablilities, Hearing Impairment and Vision Impairment - but not yet for ASD. (Don't worry, I've already asked if we could classify Rainer as Intellectually Impaired....and the school's tried in the past too...no luck.)
The mind certainly boggles. On the one hand I understand how a man in an office who I'm not quite sure has even been a teacher or sat in a classroom lately, could sprout a whole lot of THEORY on how kids will be alright if you just leave them in a classroom with regular kids. Just give the teachers a little bit of in-service and "she'll be right!!".
Yeah, right. (warning...sarcasm ahead!)
If that's the case, why don't we send all primary teachers to learn other specialist areas like Japanese (or any other language), Music, Art, etc. Surely (if we're following that line of thinking) if a teacher only needs "a little in-service" to teach a child with a complex and varied condition such as ASD, my God, learning another language should be a walk in the park!!!!!
Am I the only one seeing a GAPING HOLE here in this theory?????
All I ask is that children who have the potential to sit in a classroom and function and learn with typical children, get some one-on-one time with a specialist teacher/aide in Prep, Year 1 and Year 2. Slowly fading the time the older the child gets and the more competent they become. I think most parents would welcome such a plan and the recurring cost to the community would be minimal. The way things stand, we would have to employ an Aide for Rainer to ensure his successful transition to the Catholic school.
Do I feel a sense of ENTITLEMENT?? You betcha. After being educated at Catholic institutions through primary, secondary, university and then devoting my entire teaching career to Catholic Education, heck, I'm even on the Reading Roster at the parish!! - I'm told there's not enough support or resources for my child.
The saddest part is I'm not upset with the school. They would have him in a heartbeat. But then I look at their faces and I know their hands are tied. They've fought for one-on-one classroom time for ASD kids and to have an AVT for ASD. It's Catholic Education who put up the walls.
Happy to put all this on record (it's my blog, after all). Happy for Cath Ed to call me and arrange a meeting to find ways to address these issues (Lord knows they have my number!). Happy for Archbishop Bathersby to sit with us too (I'm sure he's got my number too). I am a dangerous woman at the moment. I am armed with decades of Catholic teaching and now armed with information on the benefits of EARLY INTERVENTION for Autistic children and children with other disabilities.
I am cranky and DEEPLY DEEPLY disappointed in the office that services the faith school that I love so much and is so much a part of my life.
How does it go again???? That which you do to the least of my brothers,
so you do unto me.
Wouldn't Jesus be one cranky Jew right now!!!!!!! (yes, he was a cranky man, just re-read Mark's gospel...whoa...super crankiness!!) Okay, let's not get into a massive Christological debate - you know what I mean. (if not I think I still have my teaching notes...hehe)
WHERE TO FROM HERE???? A meeting with the Principal of the local State School. I have 3 of those to choose from, lucky me! One of them has a fantastic inclusion philosophy. So if it means being there for a few years and then moving back to the Catholic school, so be it. Rainer's development is the most important thing right now.
So where's my scrapbooking from the Retreat??? Ah, still sitting in the pizza box of course! How does your house look after your hubby's been in charge for 3 days???? PMSL....I'm still catching up! At least the boys were happy.
And I am happy....just one more of life's little hurdles that will be overcome..(sing it with me)..some day...oh deep in my heart, I do believe, we will overcome some day. (did that bring back memories for some people?)