Thursday, October 7, 2010

School in Madison

John and Les went to Glenn Stephens Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, and Memorial High School in Madison. The Madison area is generally a magnet for families with children with autism so the schools are very familiar with it. (That was not true a few years ago for some of the smaller schools, like Shorewood, and possibly some east side schools.)

When John was in elementary school, he was pulled out of his classroom and was taught with other Learning Disabled kids for his first 4 years; after that he was included in the classroom. I believe their policy changed. He needed guidance to know what he should be doing, where to find things, and how to do his work but he was not a disturbance in any way. He was quiet as a church mouse. Les, with her ADD, had a hard time staying on task, keeping quiet, and getting here work done. She did not have an IEP until she was in 8th grade although she probably should have had one earlier.

The schools are pretty good, in general. John's 3rd grade class was not good because it had a very difficult mix of kids and the teacher had a hard time controlling them. He was also being bullied by Jacob. (I even tried to threaten Jacob to stay away from John without success; the teacher seemed helpless and overwhelmed although she was an excellent teacher.) John had services for occupational therapy and physical therapy (vision therapy would have been really good!) but after awhile it seemed questionable whether he was helped being pulled out of the classroom for these services when he really needed to be in class to tell what was happening. But most of the Madison teachers we knew and all the therapists were caring, interested people who wanted to help our kids.

Middle School was okay. I actually think that the people who home school their kids during these years might have the best alternative. It was not an option for us. Just surviving the middle school years is a realistic goal.

Memorial High School was good for both Les and John. It is a large school with a soulmate for almost any one. They have staff who care about the kids and know how hard it is for them. Both kids were in LD classes with others who they did not always feel were their peers. John and Les could not do the quality of work they wanted to do. But for the most part, they were not in classes with achievers because they could not achieve well themselves. They were in limbo to some extent. John spent his lunch hours sitting at a table by himself, year after year. He didn't fit in with the LD kids or the achievers and, worst of all, even with SSRIs, he was horribly depressed. We didn't get his depression under control until he was a senior.

I think the Madison schools did a pretty good job of helping them but they could not work miracles and that is what we needed.

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