Special Education Inclusion Works: Ask the Homecoming Queen in Georgetown, MI
Posted Oct 30 2009 12:00am
By Kim Stagliano
I went to Catholic school for eight years. Then a boarding school. (Can you believe my folks sent me away?) LOL! And then I attended Tufts (alma mater of Dr. Paul Offit) and was graduated from Boston College during "the Flutie years." One of my husband's and my earliest arguments as a newlyweds was how we'd educate our children. I was adamantly in favor of prep school, and he was equally adamant about Catholic school. Now we don't think about SATs, instead it's IEPs. (Hello, Autism. Goodbye, Groton.)
When I tell people that my three beautiful daughters with autism each attend the public schools in our town, they are often surprised. "Really?" they say with their eyebrows up around their hairline. Yes, really. That's not to say the girls are in regular ed classrooms all day. They aren't, nor would I want them to be, as their learning styles require one on one instruction.
We happen to be blessed with a town that funds special education and has made a commitment to educating students on the autism spectrum particularly. Right now I'm on a committee to craft the high school program which will begin next year with my daughter Mia's class. If you're seeking a strict ABA-based program, or if your child has severe behavior issues, you probably need a private school. However, we have trained ABA paraprofessionals, BCBA's and highly trained teachers, plus our district uses a number of therapies and teaching tools to educate my girls. I know from harsh experience that the difference between districts from state to state and even town to town can be startling.
I consider it my responsibility to reign in behaviors from home, using diet and biomedical treatments, so that the school has three girls who are comfortable enough to take advantage of their learning opportunity.