We have a very difficult decision to make about the education of our two little boys with #Autism

Lizze and I have been discussing something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable. While this is something I really don’t even want to think about, as parents, I don’t think we have much of a choice.

The topic of concern is whether or not the boys are in the right school.

I don’t like this conversation because the idea of even thinking about moving the boys to a new school is something that terrifies me.  At the same time however, I’ve become more and more concerned that a move may be necessary.

Let me say that I really like the staff and the school as a whole. I would recommend it to people who have kids that struggle in the public school system.

The concern for us lies in whether or not it’s still a good fit for the boys and that’s a tough question to answer.  The truth is, I don’t know what the right answer is.  I don’t know if keeping the boys where they’re at is the best move for them.  Likewise, I don’t know if moving them is in their best interests in the long run either.

Both of the boys are extremely intelligent and excel at almost everything they do academically.

One area of struggle however, is emotional development, as a result of being on the Autism Spectrum.  Autism by definition is a pervasive developmental disorder and it can impact a person in many ways.

In the case of Elliott and Emmett, it seems to manifest itself in rather extreme anxiety, serious sensory processing issues, very limited expressive language skills and an overall struggle with any form of change.
These things can interfere with their ability to learn on any given day.

It doesn’t seem to have seriously impacted their academic abilities but is that because of the accommodations or the fact that they are in classrooms, consisting most of peers with the same struggles?

Lizze keeps asking if their current educational environment will prepare them for higher education and the answer is a resounding I don’t know. 

An ever growing part of me is beginning to share the very same concern.

At the same time, I can’t even begin to image the ramifications of moving the boys to a new school environment.  I don’t have a clue what the right thing to do is.

39 Comments

  1. Braden

    I posted and it didn’t seem to take…..so apologize if this is a double post at some point.

    What are your other options? That will help with any decision.

    And don’t worry about college now..maybe with middle school you can think about a prep track if that is your end goal.

  2. Braden

    I posted and it didn’t seem to take…..so apologize if this is a double post at some point.

    What are your other options? That will help with any decision.

    And don’t worry about college now..maybe with middle school you can think about a prep track if that is your end goal.

  3. Braden

    I posted and it didn’t seem to take…..so apologize if this is a double post at some point.

    What are your other options? That will help with any decision.

    And don’t worry about college now..maybe with middle school you can think about a prep track if that is your end goal.

  4. Kim Gebhardt

    What other options are available to you? I know public school, of course, but is there another school that could act as an ‘in between’ for where they are now and public school? As for higher education, the school they are in is not preparing them for anything outside of that school; the homework and common core debacles are perfect examples of that, and to be honest, you are not helping in that arena either. Sitting outside of school for an hour a day where they can see your car and not pushing Elliott on the homework thing are two examples. Dr. Pattie even told you last year that you were being manipulated when it came to school. Helicoptering them isn’t helping. I know you have their best interests in mind and feel like you need to watch over their every step, but at some point you have to let them sink or swim on their own.

    1. Kim,

      I get to the school early for myself. I’ve said it a million times before but I like the peace and quiet. I get some writing done and just collect my thoughts before the boys come home.

      Secondly, Elliott does his homework. The issue was how he perceived time. This is an issue that carries over I to every aspect of his life. Homework is just one area where there’s conflict because he has to be pushed.

      I get what you’re saying Kim. You just have to know that it’s much easier said than done when it comes to special needs kids.

      1. Kim Gebhardt

        I have zero doubts that what I mentioned is easier said than done. It is super easy to see what appear to be solutions when you’re on the outside looking in, but that doesn’t always mean that the solutions are feasible. That said, I know why you get to school early, but is there a way to park somewhere else where they couldn’t see you and still get your writing done? And to bring up something that you mentioned in your conversation with Jimmy, I do think that part of the boys academic success is because of the curriculum at their school. It might be worth a look to see what the area public schools are working on in the same grade levels.

            1. I never even saw them or received notifications about any comments from him. Thanks for not assuming I deleted anything cause I rarely touch any comments unless they are really, really bad.

              Maybe he deleted them? I’ll double check my email and see but I assure you I haven’t touched any comments.

    2. You know something, I don’t know if there’s a sorta middle ground school. There are private schools where I think the kids would do amazing but they are incredibly expensive.

      I also want to clarify why the kids like to see me at the school early. It’s because it’s been my routine for years.

      Like I said, I did and do it for me. They’ve just gotten used to it and don’t deal with change all that well…

      Does that make sense

  5. Kim Gebhardt

    What other options are available to you? I know public school, of course, but is there another school that could act as an ‘in between’ for where they are now and public school? As for higher education, the school they are in is not preparing them for anything outside of that school; the homework and common core debacles are perfect examples of that, and to be honest, you are not helping in that arena either. Sitting outside of school for an hour a day where they can see your car and not pushing Elliott on the homework thing are two examples. Dr. Pattie even told you last year that you were being manipulated when it came to school. Helicoptering them isn’t helping. I know you have their best interests in mind and feel like you need to watch over their every step, but at some point you have to let them sink or swim on their own.

    1. Kim,

      I get to the school early for myself. I’ve said it a million times before but I like the peace and quiet. I get some writing done and just collect my thoughts before the boys come home.

      Secondly, Elliott does his homework. The issue was how he perceived time. This is an issue that carries over I to every aspect of his life. Homework is just one area where there’s conflict because he has to be pushed.

      I get what you’re saying Kim. You just have to know that it’s much easier said than done when it comes to special needs kids.

      1. Kim Gebhardt

        I have zero doubts that what I mentioned is easier said than done. It is super easy to see what appear to be solutions when you’re on the outside looking in, but that doesn’t always mean that the solutions are feasible. That said, I know why you get to school early, but is there a way to park somewhere else where they couldn’t see you and still get your writing done? And to bring up something that you mentioned in your conversation with Jimmy, I do think that part of the boys academic success is because of the curriculum at their school. It might be worth a look to see what the area public schools are working on in the same grade levels.

    2. You know something, I don’t know if there’s a sorta middle ground school. There are private schools where I think the kids would do amazing but they are incredibly expensive.

      I also want to clarify why the kids like to see me at the school early. It’s because it’s been my routine for years.

      Like I said, I did and do it for me. They’ve just gotten used to it and don’t deal with change all that well…

      Does that make sense

  6. Jimmy Rock

    I understand your general concerns. I’m sure you hate when people say this kind of thing because it sometimes comes across as something people who don’t “get it” say, but a lot of parents share those types of concerns. In your case, though, what exactly are your concerns? What ideally would you be looking for in a school setting? And short of ideally, what else is realistically available and how would that improve on the situation? Or alternatively, how could you work within the existing system to make it better?

      1. Jimmy Rock

        Sure it does. I put out those questions because those are the types of things anyone has to think about when making these types of decisions. Could they go to public school with the appropriate amount of support in place, with carefully crafted IEPs? And not doubting in any way, but how you measuring their intelligence as “off the charts”? IQ? Your general observations? Standardized tests? Grades? Compared to their peers at school? More and more areas have very interesting academic programs for twice exceptional kids…Either way I do understand your concerns about a curriculum that is not challenging enough for your boys.

          1. Jimmy Rock

            Does that mean that he’s at grade level in other areas? Or below? Whatever the case may be, it will be a bit of a challenge to find an appropriate curriculum the more disparate his academic needs are, particularly combined with the other support he may need. I go back to some of the questions I originally posed: what ideally are you looking for in a school? From there, what alternative is realistically available? Then, short of that, what can be done in the current setting to improve things? With respect to the last of these questions, what does he do during those times when he’s years ahead of the current lesson being taught? Is public school an option? Could either boy handle public school with the right IEP in place? I don’t think you should get yourself stressed out about whether you should move the boys until you can answer the above questions. Or maybe you already have and you already know the answer and that’s stressing you out?

            1. Both Gavin and Emmett were abused in our local public school system. In Gavin’s case, it was pretty bad and if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you may remember. We were advised to file a law suit because they wouldn’t even follow the IEP and teachers didn’t even attend the meetings.

              We didn’t know any better back then but needless to say, that’s not an option we would ever even use in the same sentence as our kids.

              Emmett I believe is above grade in pretty much everything but emotionally he doesn’t match up with his academic level.

              Elliott is above in some but average in others. Emotionally he struggles.

              Lizze and I were talking about this today and I just don’t feel they would emotionally handle this…

              1. Braden

                From everything I have read it sounds like you have two choices (as far as where to send them)… Keep them where they are or home school.
                Hopefully that is one less thing to worry about.

                1. Jimmy Rock

                  Braden’s right. So private school is out for cost reasons. (I suppose you could research potential scholarships). Public school is understandably out based on past experience. You’re not moving to another district. Home schooling I would hope isn’t a serious consideration. Outside of the obvious time constraint it would put on you and many other challenges, you would be eliminating what I imagine is virtually all of their social interaction with other kids. So you’re really left with working within the system you are currently in to make it as beneficial as possible for your boys. If I were you I would focus my efforts on that instead of worrying about possible alternatives that aren’t feasible or don’t exist. Not an easy task but a more productive one.

            2. Both Gavin and Emmett were abused in our local public school system. In Gavin’s case, it was pretty bad and if you’ve been reading since the beginning, you may remember. We were advised to file a law suit because they wouldn’t even follow the IEP and teachers didn’t even attend the meetings.

              We didn’t know any better back then but needless to say, that’s not an option we would ever even use in the same sentence as our kids.

              Emmett I believe is above grade in pretty much everything but emotionally he doesn’t match up with his academic level.

              Elliott is above in some but average in others. Emotionally he struggles.

              Lizze and I were talking about this today and I just don’t feel they would emotionally handle this…

              1. Braden

                From everything I have read it sounds like you have two choices (as far as where to send them)… Keep them where they are or home school.
                Hopefully that is one less thing to worry about.

                1. Jimmy Rock

                  Braden’s right. So private school is out for cost reasons. (I suppose you could research potential scholarships). Public school is understandably out based on past experience. You’re not moving to another district. Home schooling I would hope isn’t a serious consideration. Outside of the obvious time constraint it would put on you and many other challenges, you would be eliminating what I imagine is virtually all of their social interaction with other kids. So you’re really left with working within the system you are currently in to make it as beneficial as possible for your boys. If I were you I would focus my efforts on that instead of worrying about possible alternatives that aren’t feasible or don’t exist. Not an easy task but a more productive one.

  7. Jimmy Rock

    I understand your general concerns. I’m sure you hate when people say this kind of thing because it sometimes comes across as something people who don’t “get it” say, but a lot of parents share those types of concerns. In your case, though, what exactly are your concerns? What ideally would you be looking for in a school setting? And short of ideally, what else is realistically available and how would that improve on the situation? Or alternatively, how could you work within the existing system to make it better?

  8. BW26

    Hey Rob…I found a website that might be helpful…http://www.greatschools.org/ohio/canton/schools/,
    You can compare scores, etc. I, personally, would like to see the boys in a good public school because I think it would have more to offer them educationally, as well as music, art, and sports programs. Also, it would better prepare them for higher education. Both Elliott and Emmett are very smart and I think with the proper assistance/guidance they would do very well. Just my two cents for what it’s worth. 🙂

  9. mindfulmom

    I think this is complicated. Many autism children (particularly those formerly labeled as aspergers) test well and often test above grade level in areas of interest.
    This doesn’t correlate with success in academia or even later job/ career success.

    Just because you can understand something or retain seemingly infinite amounts of factual information doesn’t mean you understand the application or can recognize the need for the application and use of knowledge/facts in real life situations.

    There is an entire area of psychology that studies this, with most research indicating that children with high levels of “grit” , resiliency and adaptability often being the most successful.

    Rob, you have mentioned your dislike of homework for children with autism and noted Elliott struggles with the same.

    More academic rigor usually means more homework, more reading more studying. Certain classes (especially college level and advanced science and math) require discipline and work.

    I like some of the comments that have suggested really sitting down and looking at options and thinking what the future plans are for the boys (is it college? Vocational training? Working on life skills, adls, and fostering independence? All of the above?) and what the best plan is to get there.

  10. Morgan Crutcher, M.S.

    As someone one on the autism spectrum that attended a really great public school in Ohio (Centerville HS), I would recommend keeping them where they are comfortable. Most of my learning took place outside of the classroom. When I found topics interesting I would tend to learn more about them and in turn teach my class. I hated public school, it’s too loud, there aren’t too many people and too many smells. However my education was unparalleled, and I have gone on to attain to bachelors, a masters and I’m working on my PhD. I do often look back on my education, and believe if I had more support for my disability during my primary and secondary academic years, I could have done better. If you feel as though they are getting the support they need, increased academic rigor can always be added, but finding the correct support isn’t always as easy.

  11. Morgan Crutcher, M.S.

    As someone one on the autism spectrum that attended a really great public school in Ohio (Centerville HS), I would recommend keeping them where they are comfortable. Most of my learning took place outside of the classroom. When I found topics interesting I would tend to learn more about them and in turn teach my class. I hated public school, it’s too loud, there aren’t too many people and too many smells. However my education was unparalleled, and I have gone on to attain to bachelors, a masters and I’m working on my PhD. I do often look back on my education, and believe if I had more support for my disability during my primary and secondary academic years, I could have done better. If you feel as though they are getting the support they need, increased academic rigor can always be added, but finding the correct support isn’t always as easy.

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