And we of course leave with a mix of emotions. This place, these people, have been our safe haven for the last 3 years. But the time has come to move on. The decision on where Zoey would attend first grade was not an easy one. In the end, we opted for a school about a half hour away. It is a school exclusively for children with special needs. All levels of disability. I walk in the door of the building and I feel like I am with my "people". It's where I belong and more importantly, it is where I believe Zoey belongs. At least I think so. At least I hope so.
One of our other options put her at a school literally, a 2 minute walk from our house. But the program was relegated to a portable unit, set out on the schools blacktop and the space was just not ideal. Far from it actually. Convenient? Absolutely. Right for Zoey? My gut told me no. I do have to tell you, that it was a truly heart wrenching day, when I toured the different options available to us for Zoey's placement next year. Reality was just difficult when it was, no way around it, right in your face.
We could of course go the full inclusion route, but, and I might get back lash from those within my special needs community, but the full inclusion deal, was just not worth the fight. The teacher was freaked. The school district was more freaked and I have to say, I just am not up for the fight. From the powers that be or from the parents who would have, without a doubt, felt that my child's presence in that classroom will take away from their typical child's learning experience. But you know what? I understand that to some tiny degree. Zoey can be loud. Zoey clicks her tongue and sucks on her tongue, at a decibel you would not believe. She does not speak so the only way she can get your attention is to scream or grab you or pinch you. I would imagine that those things, as well as others, might be disruptive at times in a classroom. I get that. I don't like it. But I understand it.
The next option presented to us was a "special day class". It is a classroom that has children with disabilities but ... their disabilities, and again, some may not like this, the majority of kids in that class were much more "abled" then Zoey. In our area, in the school she is at right now, Zoey, as we say it sometimes, is the most "specialist" of all. This is a true statement. I stood in the back of the classroom and watched centers being done on the day I toured the special day class. Kids were doing sight word reading and letter tracing and even early math skills and I thought to myself, what in the hell would they do with Zoey? And the thing is, THEY, didn't have the answer. They have never had a child like Zoey in that classroom, so therefore there is no curriculum in place nor did it seem as though they were willing or anxious to implement one for her either. The teacher was nice. The classroom was as typical as they come but my child, would just get lost in the shuffle day to day. Add the gtube feeding, the spoon feedings and the diaper changing and well, deers in headlights is the only analogy I can come up with.
So, I'll take my child and go. To place that for now seems right. Thinking about catching an aid up to speed on Zoey and her particulars seems daunting right now so I think I will just not think about it. I think I will instead focus on this precious child. We will soak in family time and beach days and the rest, the rest will come soon enough.