Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer School....Who Knew, We Were So Fortunate?

When you have a child with special needs, you get use to the following acronyms....
ASD (if your child has autism)
FXS (if your child has Fragile X)
You also get use to picture schedules, social stories, therapies, schedules and summer school. Callahan has gone to summer school every single year, since he was 3 years old.....remember he just turned 10. When he was younger, I was so thankful for summer school....mainly because it kept him in his routine, but also because it allowed me the opportunity to take his sisters to do things that I knew he wouldn't enjoy while he was at school.....movies (which he still won't attend), swimming (which he loves now), skating (which he also loves now), and basically anything "NEW". As he gets older and has started to enjoy more things and become more flexible, I am still thankful for summer school....because of what it offers him; but I would prefer he be with us. Last year he went to Social Skills Academy, and that wasn't as successful as we had hoped; so this year it's back to summer school (ESY). Summer school for special ed. is offered Monday-Thursday....morning session (8:00-11:00) and afternoon session (12:00-3:00). This summer is the first summer that he is not going Monday-Thursday. He is only going on Tuesday and Thursday, and I am so glad....he still gets to enjoy school which he does; but he also gets to enjoy doing things with us. Today was his first day, and he was excited. He kept telling Elliot, "I can't stay here and play with you, I get to go to school! But I'll be back to see you in a little while." It was so cute, and he happily and eagerly watched out the window for the bus to arrive. He goes in the afternoon, so the bus picked him up promptly at 11:35 and will deliver him home promptly at 3:16. They also offer free breakfast and lunch for those who want to eat at school which is really cool unless you're Cal and won't eat what they offer, so I still send his lunch....and that's okay with me too. Summer school is good, it really is, BUT....
I was talking to a friend of mine, whose child, is also going to summer school; but he is attending the academy. The difference is that the academy is for "typical" children who are referred to help them maintain or get them caught up. There is also bi-lingual summer school offered in our district, so all in all; there's basically 3 types of summer school offered....special ed., academy, and bi-lingual. Out of the 3, I know absolutely nothing about the bi-lingual summer school; and I know a lot about the special ed. summer school....obviously! I was in complete shock when I discovered some things about the academy.....like.....the parents have to pay $200 per month for their children to attend.....WHAT? Help Me Henry....that seems plain ridiculous to me! If your child is being referred, and you are told basically that he has to go in order to be promoted; I would have a huge problem paying for it....HUGE! I couldn't believe they pay $200/month. We have NEVER paid a dime for special ed. summer school....EVER! My friend was explaining that her son gets free breakfast and lunch, since he goes in the morning; but so do the special ed. children....and their summer school is FREE! She told me that she has to take her son to a specified location to be picked up and dropped off by the school bus, the special ed. bus comes directly to my front door for pick up and drop off. She then has to make an appointment and take him to another campus to obtain his speech services.....Cal's speech therapist comes directly to his classroom! Don't get me wrong, I know having the opportunity of summer school....any kind....is wonderful; BUT I don't agree with how inconvenient and expensive it is for a "typical" child to attend....especially when he basically has to. I just assumed....all these years....that everyone went for free, ate free breakfast and lunch, were promptly picked up and delivered to their front door by the school bus! BOY, was I wrong? You know what they say about assumptions? Anyhoo after learning all of this from my friend, it made me realize how fortunate we are....and how fortunate Callahan is! There would have been many summers, this one included, that he wouldn't have gone to summer school if we had to pay $200/month; because frankly we just couldn't have afforded it.....especially when we were paying for private therapies as well. I don't think he will go to summer school forever, I could be wrong, but if he does....I do know that he really enjoys it....he thrives on the schedule and structure. But honestly I'm glad to have him home more this summer, and now I'm the one who happily and eagerly stands by the window waiting for the bus to promptly arrive and deliver my boy home.


Following Him said...

200 bucks a month...seriously? WoW...I am so glad you guys have found a great program that Cal can participate in. Hope he has lots of fun and keeps ENJOYING school!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Found you in a google search. I'm always looking for other parents who have kids with special needs.

My son just started public school this year. He's five. And he's in ESY as well. Also at no cost to us (except the OUTRAGEOUS taxes we pay...but that's another story).

I paid for him to be in therapeutic activities last summer -- before he was in public school. And wow, this ESY thing is AWESOME for just the reasons you say.

Anonymous said...

yeah i'm a little in shock over the $200 too. As Matty got older summers have become more and more fun with him too. We actually stopped doing summer school a few years back because it caused more anxiety than helped. It did a total 180 on us!!