I'm not even really sure where to start with this question and really its a whole bundle of questions that doesn't get tied up with a nice bow. You'll have to forgive me if I don't make much sense. I've been thinking a lot lately about why I care so much about what type of classroom Riley is in at school.
We have pushed and pushed Riley from day one. Seriously the hospital OT or PT saw him in the NICU. Then we started at the Guilds School and then on to private OT, PT, Speech and tutors. All for what? Riley's happiness? I'm not so sure he is happier than he would be if we hadn't done all of those things. He's happiest when he is with his brother or his friends. None of these activities have given him his hysterical sense of humor that we all love so much.
So are we pushing and pushing for us? Am I the one that cares too much about what stinking room he is in and who he is allowed to be with in class? If he gets moved to a different room that is more self contained is it really going to stunt his happiness and prevent him from making friends? Could we just over compensate with extra curricular activities and make sure he stays social that way?
They often tell us he does so much better work in small groups and one on one situations. I am sure most kids would. Seriously isn't the entire issue with classroom size...the bigger the class the bigger the distractions. Are we slowing down his academic progress by insisting he spend a large chunk of his day in a general education classroom.
Riley has trouble transitioning from one activity to another. Sometimes he just needs more time. Sometimes he is just a stinker. He knows when it is time to line up from recess. He knows what is expected of him and yet he chooses to keep doing the activity that makes him happy. No matter what classroom he is in he'll need to learn to come in from recess.
Riley is just about to turn 8. He doesn't have the ability to make choices that impact his future. His hold world is about immediate happiness. Listening to his teacher doesn't often bring him immediate happiness so often he doesn't choose to listen to her. I know that while doing math today doesn't make him happy it will ensure that at some point in the future he is capable of managing a bank account and budget so he can live independently. Is that more or less important that learning to act appropriately in a social situation, or learning to make friends with new classmates.
I'm tired of having to work so hard to convince people that my child is capable and worth the extra effort it takes for him to be part of the group. That seems to really be the core of all of this... he deserves to be treated like a kid with potential not a kid that needs to be kept separate from other kids. Every child deserves that. Every child deserves to know a kiddo like Riley that sees and navigates the world a bit differently. I don't think that the message it sends to the kids left behind in that general education classroom is considered. "Don't act different kids...they will send you away." They also see how the adults interact with Riley when he is in class. So many life lessons area taught to all the kids in such a subtle way. They see when everyone is treated with respect and they also see when every one is not an integral part of a classroom.
OK I'll stop talking these circles. These are complicated issues and they confused me daily. So if you have a crystal ball let me know.....how far to do you push and when do you just throw in the towel and take the easy road.