Thursday, January 7, 2010

Out of the Local Schools, But Still on the Mailing Lists

Both of our children have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). As a result we are on the mailing list for our local special education action committee, although I have not attended many of their meetings over the years. This morning I received the January newsletter in my inbox, and one of the items caught my attention: There will be a talk by a senior attorney at Landmark School Outreach, who practices disability, special education, education, and children’s law. Landmark School serves children in grades 2 through 12 who learn differently. Landmark College in Vermont, which serves college age students with learning disabilities, has its roots in this Massachusetts-based program.

We briefly looked into Landmark College for our son, but did not pursue it for two reasons: first, the college is really known for its programs focused on ADHD issues and does not boast of particular strengths in autism spectrum disorders; second, as is the case for most private schools, costs were a concern.

However, given what he’s been through this past semester, I think the talk will be well worth attending. My husband and I were resistant when one of my son’s Learning Center teachers was steadfastly advocating a nearby university because, in her words, “they are ideally equipped to educate and take care of students like him.” We looked into the school and they did not have the theater program that my son wanted, and we really did not think that the Nonverbal Learning Disorder should have been the priority in choosing a college. After all the recent issues, I wonder what the outcome might have been in a different school, and I wonder what the outcome might have been at his current school, had we been better informed of our rights.

All three of us are committed to the current school through sophomore year (albeit for different reasons). Now that he is out of the theater major, my husband and I would very much like to see him graduate from a school that is stronger academically in a wide variety of disciplines. He was accepted to several such schools. We would also like to visit the university that the Special Ed teacher had promoted.

Over the next three semesters, a lot might happen to reinforce my son’s commitment to his current college. On the other hand, he might be ready to take on new academic – not to mention social – challenges.

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