My son is 4 years old and has a high-functioning form of autism. He attends a preschool program that has ½ kids with IEPs and ½ Gen Ed.
At his last meeting with his teacher, we were asked what we had planned on doing for kindergarten, since his birthday is in late September we could wait an additional year to send him to kindergarten. We told her that we planned on waiting the extra year so that he could gain some maturity and we felt like since he was already a little behind typical peers, there was no sense rushing him into kindergarten before he even turned 5 and have him be one of the youngest kids. She completely agreed, and even said that by waiting the extra year she feels he’ll be ready to join a Gen Ed classroom.
We were all pleased with this plan of action, however we just got word that the principal had a meeting with the teachers and said that there is to be NO preschool retention if the child is age eligible for kindergarten.
My son’s entire team is completely against rushing him to kindergarten, and feel that if we do, it will be to a Special-Education classroom, since he still has some issues to work on that will likely not be an issue as he matures.
I plan on meeting with the principal to try and get an exception, and will contact a mediator if we need to… Does anyone have any words of advice, or studies I can show to plead our case? We all feel that once he gets rushed into kindergarten before he’s ready and put into a Special Ed classroom, it’ll be much harder to get him into a Gen Ed population, so it would drastically change the course of his life. As a last resort, we would, of course just not send him to kindergarten regardless next year and if they won’t budge and let him stay. We would try enrolling him in a typical preschool next year. The problem with that is that he would be missing out on some of the social-support services I think he needs a little help with still.
It’s really frustrating.
I take it he has an IEP.
Also, they cannot force you to move your child onto Kinder next year. You can just not register him, they cannot force you to register him. Also, they cannot drop him from services or preschool because of him being on an IEP and their requirements to provide services under IDEA.
So, really, it is up to you about physically signing him up from Kinder. If you don't they cannot over ride you. Where I live Kinder is only required once the child reaches six years of age.
I agree w/ the above post. You will still get services for OT/PT/ASD per IEP no matter what you do.
The choice to retain in preschool may be a legal matter- the program he is in may only get federal funding for children that are 'age eligible', meaning if he is eligible for K next year he can not remain in that classroom (with the school getting federal funding for him). That may be their sticking point.
We ran into that w/ my DD. She was in a PreK class for IEP & Gen Ed kids. You could only be in the classroom one year (the year before K). If they made exceptions, the school could lose the grant money that paid for that class since it was funded by different funds than the Spec.Ed Preschool or the K-12 programming. She had an Oct Bday and was on an IEP.
Our options were (all) Spec.Ed preschool for one year or K. We were going to do 1/2 day K (vs all day K) with continued OT/PT. Then at the end of the year decide if we would do a year of all day K or on to 1st. Turns out we moved to a state with an earlier cut-off date. We are doing another year of PreK (which we could not have done in the original state) due to cut-off age differences. If I had a choice I would have sent her to K. Her social issues and SPD will always be with her- she will most likely be quirky her whole life (she has a PDD_NOS dx). She has learned good coping mechanisms and is doing well, but I am fairly confident that it will always be a weak area for her no matter how old she is. In our situation, going on to K would have been a better fit for her (with accommodations- such as a 1/2 day) due to her academic needs not being met in PreK. We could not no matter what enroll her in K in our new state due to funding and cut-off dates. Frustrating and the exact opposite of your concern.
It may be a matter of funding--- you are not required to do K until your states mandated age. But the schools also do not have to offer another year of the same program if there is an age stipulation for funding. The only things the school may be able to offer are Spec.Ed preschool or K with lots of support.
I dont think that a year of Spec.Ed. K or Spec.Ed preschool would harm his chances of being in a Gen Ed. class (I say this as a former Spec.Ed. teacher of K-5 kids). We did have a few kids that did a self- contained Spec.Ed. K year and then on to a GenEd K year (so two years of K). You could also do two years of K and gradually increase the GenEd.Time. You could do 1/2 day K (even if an all day program) and write it into the IEP. He could be in Gen.Ed. with aide support this year and wean it off next year. There are a lot of options, depending on your area. Personally, in the areas I worked in--- it was not hard to get a Spec.Ed students from a self-contained classroom in K to transition to K/1st gradually. In fact, that was something we worked on all the time. The most common way of doing that was to do 2 years of K....one that was mostly Spec.Ed with some Gen Ed and then the next reversed--- a year of K with mostly Gen.Ed and then some Spec.Ed support. Others ways(for kids that were not 'young') were to do the first semster of 1/2 Spec.Ed and 1/2 Gen Ed and then second semester slowly reduce Spec.Ed time to the amount that student needed to meet LRE. Some kid will always require Spec.Ed. time, some wont. Sometimes you just dont know. A year or two can make a big difference.
A typical preschool may or may not take him and if they do, you may lose your IEP services (if you go to a private preschool) in a classroom setting. You would still get services, but may have to transport him to the public school and back for them. The therapists are not required to go to private facilities.
I WOULD talk to your principal and get the reasoning behind not offering another year of preschool and any potential ways to make the transition to K easier. A lot of kids repeat K and/or do transitional K (young 5s?). There may be options you are missing and/or you possibly could get another year of Preschool if the only rational reason is the principal doesnt want preschoolers retained. There are a lot of variables and some are 'area' dependent.
Get an advocate and see what they say. They will be familiar with your local programming, funding, legalities per IDEA, and standard procedures for your state.
Remember you can ask for an IEP at anytime, you can ask for due process, you can not agree w/ the IEP and request remediation. Make sure you read up at www.wrightslaw.com to know your rights (and your sons) and what legally can and can not be done. If you start one program or classroom, you can switch if you feel it is not the best environment. You seem to have a supportive team, if so--I would work with them to do what you can within the limits of the law and programming available. Good teams are hard to find.
I hope it all works out for you in the way you want and is best for your son!
My son is 4 years old and has a high-functioning form of autism. ...
We all feel that once he gets rushed into kindergarten before he’s ready and put into a Special Ed classroom, it’ll be much harder to get him into a Gen Ed population, so it would drastically change the course of his life. As a last resort, we would, of course just not send him to kindergarten regardless next year and if they won’t budge and let him stay. We would try enrolling him in a typical preschool next year. The problem with that is that he would be missing out on some of the social-support services I think he needs a little help with still.
I'm sorry that you are going through this. The previous posts were super. This may be a funding issue.
The trend in education is to mainstream as much as possible, and what I've seen is that at EVERY stage there is an emphasis to integrate sn kids. I wouldn't assume that if he is in Sp. Ed for part or all of the day in K, that it would have any impact on what sort of classroom he's in in upper elementary or middle school. Middle school in some ways is nice because all the kids are switching for classes and it's easy to integrate a combination of Sp. Ed. and mainstream classes.
And, having had a child who spent part of the day in a Sp. Ed classroom, I don't feel that it has "drastically changed the course of her life." I grieved that it was the best thing for her, but it got her what she needed at the time and she is doing better now because of it.
Reading between the lines of your post, I think you may be in a little denial about your son. In another year, he'll still have autism. Even giving him extra time, he'll still be different, and may still need some accommodation.
After exhausting the public school route, in your shoes I would most likely opt for a year of private preschool and outside therapies. My DD (whose dx was PDD-NOS at that age but now has the label Asperger's) has a fall birthday too, but her's falls right after the cut off. She's one of the older ones for her grade. It doesn't hurt. But she still is on the Autism spectrum, and she's still spent time in Sp Ed.
but everything has pros and cons
My son with high functioning autism is 6 and in the first grade. His preschool program was the same as you describe.
I think you've gotten great advice from others about the preschool/kindergarten issue.I would like to add that in my state (Ohio) if your child with an IEP is 5 but not yet 6 before the Kindergarten cut-off date, you can choose between another year of preschool or going to Kindergarten. So you should check the specific rules in your state.
DS has a late spring birthday and we choose to not do another year of preschool and move DS to Kindergarten. For him, this was the right choice for several reasons. For one thing, he was academcially advanced in reading and math; so he was bored with many of the preschool learning activities. For another thing, my son does better with children who are older than him rather than kids who are younger than him. So we did not want him to be turning 6 in a classroom with 3 year olds. So for us, this was the right decision.
For kndergarten, DS was in a K-2 autism classroom. He thrived in this environment. He was able to learn how to work independently,how to take instruction in groups. and how to manage his daily schedule. He had access to the sensory room every day and learned how to ask for a sensory break. He received speech therapy and OT, both individual pull-out as well as group sessions in class, as well as APE. Many of his IEP goals for for him to learn the skills he would need to function in the mainstream classroom. These goals could not be easily achieved in the preschool program environement becuase DS needed intense instruction using methods that were designed for children with autism.
This year, for first grade, DS is partitially mainstreamed. He attends the regular first grade classroom in the morning (with an aid) and spends the afternoon in the K-2 autism classroom. He rejoins his first grade class for recesses, art, and music. He is making amazing progress this year in all areas: academically, socially, language skills, motor skills, etc.
When DS was first diagnosed and we had him in the district's preschool program, I told myself "It's OK to have him in special needs preschool if it means that he will be mainstreamed for kindergarten." When we got the point where we realized that he would be in a special education classroom for kindergarten, I told myself "It's OK, as long as he will be in a regular class in 1st grade."
Eventually, I realized that I had to let go of my own timetables for this and that DS's needs and abilities would determine the best placement for him. I had to let go of my own preconcieved ideas of special education classrooms and the idea that mainstreaming is an "all or nothing" type of thing. Partial mainstreaming is working wonderfully for my son and I can see how he benefits from it. The eventual goal is to have him fully mainstreamed, but I have learned to accept this as a gradual process.
Placement in the special education classroom has "drastically changed the course of his life" - for the better. It has given him the opportunity to learn the skills he needs in an environemtn suited to his unique learning style.
I'm not saying that a special education classroom is the right placement for your child. I'm just offering my own expereince of having been through the process and perhaps allowing you to see a different perspective.
Mom to an amazing little guy, age 9 (Autism, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, Albinism, Chromosome Microdeletion)
My son was in exactly the same scenario at end of last school year. Our district refused to keep him in pre-K (probably for some of the funding reasons above, but legally they are required to make the case that kindi was in a good fit for his unique needs). I rejected the placement but accepted speech and OT and an autism consult from the public school for the teachers at the private preschool I placed him in. The district also gave us a small amount of money to help us support the aide we have helping with social faciliation in his preschool classroom (only after mediation.)
The idea of two years of kindergaten was one I considered, but I was worried as our district is very much against retention for SN kids. So I thought this was the best chance to give him a little bit of extra time to work on fine motor, self-regulation and play skills. To add the social challenge of being the youngest in the class to the challenges he already has seemed too much.
It was difficult to go through this process of fighting the district, but now seeing my son half-way through the school year, talking and playing with a range of kids, taking an interest in letters and reading for the first time, following teachers directions and simply getting lots of practice playing, I wouldn't change a thing. Yes, he's still quirky, but will be much better prepared for the demands of modern kindergarten, and thus stick out and feel behind less next year.
Check in deep with your mama instincts and see what seems more right and if it is really worth it. Good luck!
We were also in that situation. Her school wouldn't even keep giving the services she needed (we wanted to come in just for speech, etc. and they wouldn't do it - it was either kindergarten or nothing).
We ended up keeping her home for the year and it was the best thing we could have done. We were warned that by not going directly to k, she would have to be re-evaluated and have a new IEP. That was fine with us, because it has to be redone every 3 years and we would have been due anyway. My dd is so much happier at home, even though she occasionally craves the company of other children. Going to k before they are ready would just be a disaster. Good luck.