Choices We're Lucky To Have (But Still Don't Want To Make)
April 12, 2010
Well. So. That happened. And it was fine. And now I have absolutely no clue what we're supposed to do next. I've been sitting here in a sandwich shop for an hour and a half staring at a bowl of cold soup, trying to string words together, trying to come up with anything else besides: Damn! Fuck!
The Immersion Program. It doesn't exist! I mean, it does, but not for kids Noah's age. Kids his age have one basic option: a five-days-a-week version of the class he's in now, though with more of a focus on the kindergarten transition. And it's in the afternoon. They want him in it.
Where did we get the brilliant idea of sending Noah to a non-existent immersion option? From his five-days-a-week private school, who originally suggested it without fact-checking the age requirements. The private school that also wants him to return next year. That also meets in the afternoon.
He cannot attend both. We have to choose, one over the other.
I realize how silly this sounds: We only get to send our child to ONE nationally-recognized special-education program? And one of them is FREE? Damn! My life is so hard, dawgs.
And yet. Damn! Fuck!
In one corner, we have the public school program. A very academically driven program, focused on skills and behaviors. And oh yeah, it's FREE. Noah's progress there has been well-observed and documented and everybody loves him. I know plenty of parents have negative experiences with district special-ed programs, but our experience has been the polar opposite. They admit he will be probably the most verbal and highest-functioning child in the class next year, but feel this class is still his absolute best shot at transitioning to kindergarten (and this is the school where we want him to attend kindergarten) the following year. He could have the same teacher, whom he also loves; he'd enter kindergarten with protection and an established IEP in place. AND ALSO: IT'S FREE. Walking away from this program would be insane.
In the other, we have the private program. The one we agonized over. The one we saved up for and sacrificed for. It's less about the academics and more about addressing Noah's underlying issues, on developing core competencies and stuff like confidence, trust, bonding, the idea that school and peers can be fun. He loves it more than anything on earth, and they love him back, and have helped us figure out how to parent Noah in more ways than I could ever list. I do not regret a single penny spent. We could probably arrange outpatient therapy there, but I know it won't be The Same. Since October, he's blossomed and grown and made enormous strides and the whole place feels like a big extended family now. Walking away from this program would be insane.
So that's where we are, with our very uniquely privileged problem.
And now I have a meeting with the private school people so I can tell them what the public school people told us. And then I need to tell myself that with so many amazing people who care so deeply about my amazing kid, there's hopefully no such thing as a wrong decision.