Twice Exceptional - Our Gifted Hugger
Sam attends kindergarten at a public school.
A lot of people (even some in my family)
thought he was enrolled in a special school for kids with autism.
Nope, it's a public school and he's in special ed.
There are 7 kids in his class and they're all on the autistic spectrum.
Because every kid with autism is different and they all have different learning styles,
there are a variety of ways they are taught.
All children in the United States are entitled to a free and fair education.
Even those with special needs.
Each year (and often throughout the year as needed),
we meet with a team consisting of one or more teachers,
specialists, psychologists, and therapists to go over his IEP-
Individualized Education Program.
The IEP basically lays out Sam's learning style, what we (his teachers and parents)
would like to see him accomplish in a set amount of time,
what he's required to accomplish to move forward in school
and what he needs to accomplish those things.
Each public school child who receives special education and related services
must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be an individualized document.
The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators,
related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together
to improve educational results for children with disabilities.
The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability.
To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff--and often the student--
must come together to look closely at the student's unique needs.
These individuals pool knowledge, experience and commitment
to design an educational program that will help the student be involved in,
and progress in, the general curriculum.
The IEP guides the delivery of special education supports
and services for the student with a disability.
Without a doubt, writing--and implementing--an effective IEP requires teamwork.
We had our quarterly parent/teacher conference on Wednesday.
No one minded if I took pictures so I could share some of the ways his classroom is set up.
Each day when Sam gets off the bus, his amazing teacher (I love her)
takes him directly to an obstacle course set up to give him and his classmates
a sensory break- basically a way to unload before he starts his learning day.
By far, his favorite is the hug machine.
Sam responds well to deep pressure.
He likes to be squeezed and hugged.
Yay! I like to squeeze and hug him. I'm so happy he's a cuddlebug.
He also likes to wear weighted vests and lap belts,
especially when he needs to quietly concentrate on something.
You can see some of them hanging on the backs of chairs in the smiley Tyler picture.
Remember the sensory snake I made for him? Same idea.
Most of the day, the kids learn independently, with individual work stations and a schedule.
They have a technology area, where they use an iPad and a computer,
while sitting on a bouncy ball.
The iPad and computer were already put away for the night when we were there.
All the kids have their own file cabinets,
filled with their assignments that they complete on their specified schedules.
They also have a really cool art station.
For classes like gym and music,
they join up with kids from other classes and attend all together, with an aide.
Now it's starting to get a little tricky - in an exciting way.
For those of you who've read for awhile, you know Sam is an exceptionally bright boy.
For those who haven't read before,
check out Sam giving you a tour of a dinosaur exhibit last October.
We've been asked for permission to test Sam for twice exceptional (gifted) classes.
Of course, we said yes.
We don't want him to be bored or held back intellectually.
Tyler, myself and Sam's team of teachers/therapists are all quite sure he'll pass the tests.
The tricky part is where to go after his tests are done.
We don't have to decide right away, just before the next school year starts.
He can remain in his school
and be clustered for a few hours a day with other "gifted" children,
where the teacher is certified to teach both gifted and special needs.
The focus will be on academics
and the social skills he needs to learn as a person with autism...
He can attend a special school for gifted children
(the teacher is also certified to teach special needs kids)
where he'll be in a larger class with more focus on academics, less on social skills.
The benefit being he'll be challenged intellectually every day, all day- something he loves.
We'll know more and feel better about what choices to make after we visit the school.
Right now, my gut is telling me to keep him where he is.
I truly LOVE the teachers, aides and therapists he's surrounded by now.
But who knows, maybe the teachers at the special school are just as wonderful.