Friday, August 5, 2011

New School Opportunity, and a general update

I'm afraid I've not been the best blogger for the past few months. I haven't had anything specific to write about Joseph's progress, and we had a new babynlast month (six weeks early). Things are starting to get back to normal though.

First, Joseph has continued to make great progress with his expressive language. At this point, he's even requesting things verbally. Apparently, he and mommy ran into one of his classroom aides, Joseph said hello to her and told her about the new baby. We've been working for a while on this home ABA program, with mixed success. It was going very well at the beginning, but now it's pretty rough. We're trying to figure out how to make it work better. Joseph was approved for SSDI and soon he should have Medicaid, then we can get the third ABA aide paid for and we can get a more formal program with a doctor from Children's Hospital in charge.

Joseph's two new obsessions are, Star Wars (particularly the Clone Wars cartoon) and the new Thundercats series. It would be worse, he's thankfully not shown interest in Thomas the Tank Engine. :)

Yesterday we got a surprise phone call from Joseph's school district. They said they just got funding for a new program in the district that they thought Joseph would do well in. It's a class based on the TEACCH method, which I'd never heard of.

From what I understand (and I encourage any readers with more information to comment) TEACCH is a teaching method designed for students with autism, that focuses on the student's strengths and interests. This class would have more one on one work, and have 8 students, half of which would be typically developing peer models. I've been told that it's very effective for students that need structure, and Joseph desperately needs structure right now.

There were two reasons that Kristy and I decided against sending him to one of the many autism centers. First, we felt that typically developing peer models are important, particularly right now. Second, we really like Joseph's teacher, and he really likes her too. We asked the school to have her call us to tell us what she thought about this new program. Kristy spoke with her today, and she said she was conflicted because she loves Joseph so much that she doesnt want to give him up, but that she does actually think that is new class would be better for him than the more general special ed class.

So Joseph's old teacher is going to go with us to meet the new teacher, and if everything goes well he will be in this new program this year. At the end of the school year, we have to decide if he is ready for kindergarten or if he should stay in preschool for another year. Based on the tremendous progress he's made since his diagnosis almost a year ago, I'm optimistic that his language and behavior will be developed enough for the mainstream kindergarten classroom.


  1. Was it hard to make the decision on putting him in public school or in a special autism school? I'm here in California and struggling with what to do. I'm afraid if I put him in the public school system he'll get lost but the school district may not be willing to pay their part if I push for him to stay where he is.

  2. In Ohio there is an autism scholarship, the state pays $20k a year for alternate education, in a center, a private school or a home based program.

    What made the decision difficult for us was choosing between an autism center where everyone is specially trained to help students with autism vs the public school with typically developing peer models, and teachers that we knew and Joseph loved.

  3. "The Choice" has been agonizing. Traditional school, special needs school. . . we elected to go the mainstream school route, and I THINK I'm happy with our decision. Lily mimics behaviors she sees, and even the little time spent in the special adapted kindergarten room with the other special needs kids has her behaviors ramping up and mirroring theirs, while she is better behaved and ironically more attentive in the larger group.