Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Our school tour was Saturday and it went so well that it is difficult to tell who is more excited, us or the staff at Camelot. We were told that we could either bring Junior or not, but I thought we should bring him. I wanted Junior to meet the staff and vice versa. I really wanted Junior to be more than information on a few pieces of paper and the best way to accomplish that was to let them meet him.
We were given the grand tour of the Autism Center including the classroom he would attend, the kitchen he would be using next year in high school, the occupational therapy room, and the sensory room. We met with his would be teacher, some of the one on one aids, a group of intern occupational therapists, his would be social worker, and the director of admissions. Everyone was very impressed with how at ease Junior was and how responsive he was to their questions. It seems from the very start, they were eager to have Junior as a student and the whole tour and interview was run more like them auditioning for us rather than us for them. Junior was fussed over and his father and I were practically thrown a party for our knowledge of Junior and how Autism affects him as well as our level of involvement in his educational and medical care. It felt wonderful to hear other people tell us what a great job we are doing with Junior rather than giving us those cold looks and snide remarks about discipline that we get from the unknowing public. The whole experience threw me into a flashback of Westside Story and "Stick to your own kind."
We were told that group occupational therapy would be done in town, at a special center which uses canine therapy, hippotherapy, and a multitude of other modes. PE is also done away from the school and out in the community. They go power walking, swimming, bowling, and the list goes on. This is perfect for Junior as he gets bored doing the same things over and over. Unlike many children with ASD, he thrives on change and shrinks amidst mindless repetition...the idea of which also blew away the staff.
I am sure some of you may be wondering where the academics are and rest assured, they are there. The best part is that it is a year round school. Junior gets the usual holidays off along with two weeks in June and two weeks in August. Also, there is no school on Fridays during the summer which gives us plenty of time to use summer passes to the area water parks.
By the end of the tour/interview, the director was calling our district's outsource coordinator and of course he had to leave a message even though he had the ever so secret mobile phone number. I will be calling Ms. M on Monday morning and leaving my own message to make sure that the ball gets rolling on the district's end. Aside from what is sure to be a heap of paperwork between the district and Camelot, there is also work to be done on Camelot's side to get ready for Junior. They want to make sure they set up the right one on one aid for Junior (every student gets their own). They also go ahead and start preparing the children already in the class to Junior's impending arrival. This helps those students who are easily upset by the smallest changes. To top it all off, they will write a social story for Junior to introduce him to the idea of a new school and his new classmates. He doesn't really need this as he transitions very well but it is something they do for everyone so we will have him read it anyway. We are told that Junior may be able to start attending his new school by the first of October and as long as the district doesn't develop their own autism program (which is highly unlikely to happen before Junior ages out of the system), Junior can stay at Camelot until he turns 22. That is unless we get our gypsy itch and decide to move again. However, if this school is half as good as we think it is going to be....we will be staying put.
Did you have a good first impression of your children's school? Would you stay in a particular town or move to another because of the school district?