Special Needs and your experiences in Schools - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 01-23-2006, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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For those who are or have used public or private schools, do you want to share your experiences so far?
I had typed this out on another thread and it seems like it would be a good discussion. I am curious to know what has worked for other children?

Hi! I was SO IN LOVE with Montessori and I was so excited when I could send Bean. At that time, when she was 3, she was in the midst of sensory struggles and this was one year before her diagnosis for autism.
I found that the particular Montessori I took her to was not even close to a good match. I kept her there for three months, hoping, participating and hoping some more because I really do love the Montessori philosophy, but it was no good.

Reasons...there was no allowance of her sensory needs for starters. They did not want to have her bouncing on a ball, for example, while doing work. It would distract the other children from the essential "rules" of the Montessori tools that they were laying before them.
They didn't want to bring in her sensory tools to the classroom, and without those, Bean couldn't sit still to do any work.

Also, each tool is meant to be used a certain way. You cannot take the counting rods and start building castles out of them for an imaginary game of rescue (or whatever). Bean had her own way (very clever ways) of sorting. They were not the ways the Directors were intending, so they would physically take her hand off the toy (big NO in Montessori!) and tell her that is not how we use this toy. That REALLY bothered me !

In our home life I surrounded Bean with Montessori tools and Waldorf toys. When our OT came to our home, she said that while the toys we had were nice, NONE of them were helping meet her sensory needs. She needed something to chew on, something to jump on! Some weighted objects, some messes. It was a shift in the way I had planned on playing and learning. A big shift. The stuff I thought was junk, previously, was becoming the key to calming our daughter in social settings.

I took her to a different preschool and I was VERY hesitant. It was more academic geared and SO BUSY! Stuff EVERYWHERE ! I thought it would drive her crazy (sensory overload). But I was wrong. Here they had lots of hands on, lots of free time to get up and move around. MANY sensory related activities, games, physical activity. She did MUCH better in that environment.

So, the thing I can sum up is that while Montessori is a great approach, it does not play out in a positive way for every child and you certainly have to take into account the school. Many Montessori schools are not following the philosophies of Maria Montessori on a very close parallel, so you may not be getting into exactly what you plan for. You can try it, and see how it goes, but also look at other schools, talk to teachers, discuss the areas of concern.

Bean was fabulous at concentration at home. She would sit and do advanced puzzles without interruption, but in the Montessori class she could not sit still for a moment to do even a four piece puzzle. The classroom was bad for her and she was a distraction to the other children.

At her newer school, she can be at ease.

To show you the rooms I am talking about , here are some class room pictures of where she was before and after

Montessori school -

Second School

So, while I don't want this to sound as bad as it is. I have learned that each child really does thrive in an environment that meets their particular needs. I really hope the school you like is the perfect fit for your little one!

All the professionals we have had in and out of Bean's life insist that she needs to be in a public or private school setting so that she does not suffer behavior regression based on her past behavior tendancies. She is doing so well now that we feel our options are open to homeschool or public school and we are currently undecided about what we'll do next year, but we do have the advantage of having a wonderful school system as well as as wonderful homeschool association. I don't think we can go wrong either way.
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#2 of 2 Old 01-23-2006, 06:48 PM
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hi, thought i'd put in my .02. my 3 y.o. ds has suspected Asperger's, sensory issues, delays in fine and gross motor skills, social difficulties. we enrolled him in our local preschool where we had been attending mommy and me for the previous year. he is doing well there: enjoying himself and slowly trying new things. i met with his teacher ahead of time to explain his issues and what works for him. she was understanding and willing to work with him. i think we really lucked out because she used to be a special ed teacher so knew where we were coming from.

i seriously considered waldorf and montessori but ultimately felt they weren't a good fit. the montessori would not have been as social as he needed. he would be content to work independently but that's not what he needed. the waldorf school explicitly said that they were not a place for kids with special needs so i didn't feel they would make the accomodations he would need.

glad you ultimately found a good fit for your dd!
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