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Readers Respond: What Special-Education Placement Works Best for Your Child?

Responses: 20


A child classified for special education these days may learn in an out-of-district specialized school, a self-contained classroom, a resource room, an inclusion class, or some combination. Describe the experience your child has had with these placements -- the successes and the failures -- and let's create a resource to help other parents figure out where works for what.

Please Note: This feature is for telling stories and sharing experiences, but it's not very good for asking questions -- the way the entries display on the page makes it hard to follow responses. If you need advice or assistance, PLEASE post your plea on the forum instead. Thanks!

At a Loss

I have a child with brain damaged suffered at birth. She was not expected to walk,talk, sit up, roll over, speak, etc. She does all that and more. She began receiving ECI at 8 weeks old until she aged out, then began attending a specialized preschool until starting kindergarten. She is now in first grade in a different school. Her IEP mandates an 1:1 health para. Her previous school followed the IEP, openly communicated with me, considered my knowledge and understanding of my child, considered my advice as I did theirs and extraordinary improvements were made in ALL areas. This year new school her IEP has not been followed and she as well as our entire family has suffered greatly. We were told from day one that a para had been assigned to her. She did not have a para assigned to her until January. In February the para was changed. Her teacher has been out sick more often than she has been in class. Her para is out for weeks at a time. They do not implement management needs.

Out of District placements are NOT more

Out of District placements are NOT more costly. The tuition for ODP include ALL costs while public schools fail to mention the additional costs to taxpayers such as teacher pensions and teacher health insurance. See: http://www.asah.org/pdf/asah_cost_analysis_final.pdf

Is A Placement Suitable for My Child?

Today I received the papers for a self-contained class with partial placement. I feel like this has been thrown in my lap all of a sudden. I have spoken to the school board about how to respond to this issue. My son has Autism but has always been in a regular class with assistance. He is on an I.E.P. His grades are mainly B's and C's. He has friends he plays with in this class. I've been told to speak with the Special Ed teacher directly. We had our Annual Review Meeting a couple of weeks ago when they told us about the placement. Now all of a sudden they have an opening. We want our son to be happy. He is happy in a regular class with his peers. The part that is confusing it is midway in the year and they are trying to make changes. They are trying to put him a Lifeskills class. I think my son needs to learn to read and write. He gets lifeskills at home.
—Guest Tammy

504 instead of IEP

My nephew's on an IEP. He has autism. He is also exceptionally bright. My sister's school is trying to convince her to take him off the IEP and put him on a 504 Plan in order to put him in the gifted program. Gifted children are on IEP's at our school so why wouldn't there just be IEP goals/objectives to cover both areas. Fine motor where he struggles and cognitive where he soars? UGH!!!
—Guest Jennifer

Inclusion success

My 7th-grade with PDD-NOS is finally having a great year of inclusion. The ingredients: 1. Small team - not a different assistant every day. 2. Room of his own located close to the regular classroom. This makes it easier for the mainstream teacher to communicate with the rest of the team. It also allows flexibility, so my son can join the class not only when planned, but also on short notice, for example when an interesting opportunity shows up. 3) His personal room is also located next to the group room, so he can also participate in other kids' special ed lessons if relevant. 4. Recess with organized activities that are open to all. He plays floor hockey and even won a dance contest. The only sad thing is that it's his last year at this school. In the falll we will have to start from scratch at a different school, but at least we know what works.

can't get students tested

I teach in Texas. Over the last two years I have been told "we are not adding students to special ed" when I ask for student testing to diagnose learning disorders. It is heartbreaking to watch my students struggle and I feel like this blanket policy may be illegal.
—Guest teacherintexas

Consider everything, but trust yourself

My son is both gifted and learning disabled. This is a wicked combination, especially when it comes to school placement. He was accepted in an inclusion class at a highly selective school in NYC. Now they can't support him adequately. They recommended a self-contained class, but this wouldn't be right for him because he would feel negative about his abilities, tends to be easily influenced and would miss his friends in mainstream education. No matter how much individual attention he got in the smaller class, it wouldn't be worth it. The school pushed pretty hard, denying him additional services in his inclusion class. I've finally learned to stand up for myself -- and for him. I'm terrified of confrontation, lawsuits, disagreeing with so-called experts. Considering what's at stake, though, I'm willing to take the risks. The principal dislikes me now, which is sad, but I did what I had to do for my son. I strongly agree with Elizabeth.
—Guest Elizabeth Alexena

our kids deserve compassion

I was increasingly frustrated by our home school district's lack of compassion for the special needs students...fitting a square peg in a round hole...came to mind so often when sitting in an ARD meeting. Then personnel changed at all levels, with new special ed administrator/staff/principals and what a big difference that made for my students! Now, instead of constant retraints and no academic progress, the resources of the whole school is used to help with a student's needs. The quiet library was utilized for 1:1 work and is miraculous. Everything changes with each ARD and this time for the better. Whatever the diagnosis or program, a compassionate environment for true individual learning is 'right' and is wonderful.
—Guest hopernch

Mainstream and Special School

For my 10yr old daughter mainstream did work well when we lived in Wales and it was a small village school, however upon moving back to England my daughter attended a larger class and the support was almost non-existent. For her the move to a special needs school has been fantastic. She has renewed confidence and even enjoys going to school, although just like any other child does like to find out when the holiday time is and there is no school.
—Guest marion

I second Elizabeth

My ADHD, bipolar, and now confirmed Asperger's 10 year old has "not qualified" for an IEP x2 years. Now I'm getting daily calls because her behavior is out of control. I did TONS of research (probably used a ream of paper printing!) and have started to stand up to the school to get her the help she needs. A friend of a special needs child recently told me "Remember, YOU are the person with the most power when it comes to your child! Don't let them push you around, saying they can't do this, etc..." and I finally decided she needs more than they're giving her, and I'M going to be the one to make sure she gets it!!
—Guest Yomiko

How to find what is best for my son

My son has been in special ed now for 5 years been diognosed with bipolar and severe learning disabilitys he does not do well in a regular school he has been in a very structured school and small class size and done very well he is now back at regular school in special ed department and is back to not doing well. I have asked to update our IEP based on this information and Im not sure what to ask for he is overly and easily stimulated and esculates to anger easily in stressful situations. and some times for no reason.
—Guest Katrina16

my two cents pt.2

Sit back and see how good of a match this class has a potential to be. I had a student do this in June, and his adjustment period has been significantly shorter than students with similar personalities. And finally, visit the classroom and offer to help all the students. The children love it, the teachers love it, and you will probably love it too! Especially if you're in my class! Any comments or ideas can be sent to my email misschris.tutoring@gmail.com Thanks for listening!
—Guest sped teacher

my two cents

It sounds like there are a lot of knowledgeable parents. I wish all of my parents were as informed and willing to push for their child as the parents here. Unfortunately, it is more common for my parents to drop their child off and not even say goodbye and to never return notes (even though I include them in English and Spanish, and have a bilingual paraprofessional who will read or clarify anything my parents need). If anyone has any ideas on how to help my parents be more involved, it would be greatly appreciated. On the other end, let me tell you what I recommend. Bring your child to school on the first day of school, and plan to stay for at least 30 minutes. This helps me get to know your child, see your interactions, and gives me the opportunity to ask questions, especially if your child doesn't talk. Also, When you are deciding on placement for your child, come visit and bring your child along. Stay for an hour or so. Let your child be included.
—Guest sped teacher

Never trust the school over yourself

My son is 9 years old. He has a learning disability. When he started school at age 5 teachers and personel came to me about my childs developmental delays. He ended up with an IEP, and for 2 years was resourced by an ec teacher. I trusted that the school would do there job since they saw his need. But that teacher did'nt and I started to realize it in mid 1st grade. To kind to make anyone mad I just would say things in a nice way. Well I learned the hard way, you be nice and your child pays. They have tried to make me feel like I am in denial, but I know my child has potential. I have learned it is a fight and I guess always will. If you know early your child has learning issues , get a diagnoses early. The school want do that for you. The diagnoses is the only thing that will help your child and will help give you the tools to help them learn to there potential. When you disagree with placement speak up, you are the only one that will fight for your child.
—Guest Elizabeth

Remember the "I" in IEP

My oldest son has been in a self-contained, 15:1:1, Gen-Ed with 1:1, Gen Ed with RR for specific classes, has used a SpEd teacher for certain areas, etc. Like Claudia said, it is an ever changing process. The best thing a parent can do is educate themselves on the laws and regs for their state. The schools will not do this for you--unless it tends to suit their "agenda" for your child. IDEA is the MINIMUM a school must offer a child with special needs. Trust your gut--you know your child BETTER than ANYONE ELSE! My son just made HIGH honor roll for the first time ever; so maybe good ol' Mom knew what he needed better than anyone else working with him after all. It has been a long battle--but well worth the results. The problem is that could all change next year. That's why they have annual reviews!
—Guest Sharon

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