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Last Day of the 2015-2016 School Year

Logan finished his second year of special education preschool and Claire completed kindergarten. Next year Logan will be entering special education kindergarten and Claire will be in first grade! We had chocolate donuts from Shipley to celebrate the very last day of school so excuse the kids’ extra chocolate-y faces. Julia was just excited to be taking a picture, she still has two more years until kindergarten. Next year Claire and Logan will be at the same school, which definitely simplifies our mornings and afternoons.

I’m super excited about all of the progress Logan has made since he entered preschool two years ago. When his education team and I first started working on his kindergarten IEP1 there was the suggestion that he be mainstreamed. It was quite bittersweet considering that when we first started his special education journey one of our stretch goals was to have him ready to enter kindergarten in a general education classroom. We always knew it was possible he wouldn’t be ready, even likely, but we hoped. Considering the fact that he’s still unintelligible 70% of the time combined with his social and executive functioning issues, I just wasn’t comfortable with him being fully mainstreamed.

One of the goals of special education is to offer the least restrictive environment possible. The special education classroom with its schedules and routines and small size and high teacher-to-student ratio is the most restrictive environment. Children need to be challenged to learn, and studies have shown that inclusion is the best way for children with autism to learn. For many special education students that means being in a classroom that can be noisy and may not always follow routines exactly. At this time though I don’t think Logan is ready for that all day, every day. Too little structure, too much interaction, too loud of a classroom, with no respite and only one-on-one support a few days a week, I think those things will just cause him to shut down. On the flip side, spending all day in a special education classroom might not be what he needs to encourage him to continue to grow. We saw how being in a lower functioning classroom inhibited his progress at the beginning of last school year. Logan is in a grey area where he needs a little of both. I appreciate that his education team and I were able to talk everything through and find a great medium for Logan, where he’ll be in the special education classroom but join a general education kindergarten class for things like gym, music, recess and lunch, and even field trips and programs. I’m so excited for his kindergarten year, I think it will really help him prepare for mainstreaming in first grade.

Visiting Biloxi

After school was out the kids and I drove out to Mississippi to visit my sister and her fam. My twin sister and her brood joined us a few days later. While we were out there we visited Jones Park which is right on the beach and has a cool little splash pad. We also drove out to Pensacola, Florida to go to the beach which might seem weird seeing as how my sister can see a beach from her house, but the beach at Pensacola is super, super awesome. The sand is white and the water is turquoise and while it’s scorching hot the waves aren’t too rough and it’s nice to be in the water. While nothing will replace the Outer Banks2, Pensacola is a pretty darn nice beach.

Side Quests

National Donut Day

The day after the last day of school was a Friday and National Donut Day. Claire came to work with me that day while Julia and Logan went to their last day of daycare before the summer break. We brought a dozen Shipley donuts with us to celebrate Donut Day. Yes, we totally did donuts two days in a row.

Listen, Texas takes its donuts very seriously. There’s easily ten donut stores in a one mile radius of my house. And I don’t just mean Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme. There’s Shipley, which is the best and I’m sure I’ll start a war by saying that3, and a lot of other small donut places like Donald’s Donuts and Ashley’s Donuts and Big Al’s Donuts and Tacos. Back on the east coast you basically had chain places and that was it. Before Shipley Donuts I was pretty sure the only decent donut could come from Duck Donuts, which just finally left the Outer Banks to expand into Virginia and North Carolina last year. Alas, we are awash in donuts here in Houston, and sometimes that means having donuts two days in a row.

June was a super fun month and we had a great kick off for summer. July has been just as fun and busy but I’m catching up on the posts I meant to get out earlier. What did you get up to in June?

  1. An Individualized Education Program is like a plan for special education students that outlines their needs and how to meet them. 

  2. Our annual vacation spot since the time Andrew and I were kids. 

  3. See comment about Texans and donuts and being super, super for serious above. 

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  • Ryan attended a special education preschool full-time for his first year. The second year, he split his time evenly between a special education preschool and a mainstream preschool. Kindergarten was the same. But as of first grade, Ryan has done well being mainstreamed – though until last year he had a TSS with him for at least half of the time. His school has been wonderful with accommodating his needs, including giving him special chores/tasks to get him out of the classroom when he needs to get away from the stimuli, and having a quiet room in the office, complete with a swing and a small box filled with cat litter (clean; he likes to sift it), for him to go to whenever he needs it.

    I’ve been following your Logan updates for as long as you’ve been posting them, and it sounds like he is coming a long way! It sounds like the balance of mainstream and special needs in kindergarten will suit him well – I hope he does well. :)

    • Thanks! You know I’ve been reading about Ryan for awhile and I hope Logan continues to do as well as he does!

  • Mariah Kaercher

    My brother has Asperger’s but he was pretty mild so he was able to be integrated into public schools but he also had a para that helped him out a lot. You’re kids are adorable and it seems like they are having a great summer.

    • Thanks, we are having a great summer. We’re hoping next year Logan can be mainstreamed with para support.

  • Desiree

    Yay for being able to work with the CST and coming up with an IEP that works. I’m an advocate for children with mental health needs and sitting in on IEP meetings is a regular for me. Too many times I find that the child’s best interest aren’t being met, and it’s so frustrating. And yay for donuts!!

    • I know what you mean. I try to understand it from the school’s perspective – they have very limited funds and are unfortunately often the ones that have to perform triage when it comes to special education services – but just because I understand doesn’t mean I won’t advocate to make sure my son gets the very best.

  • Wow, I have a really good friend with a little boy with Autism. They send him to Puerto Rico in the summer to get a different kind of therapy, not sure what it is but he always comes back even better that before. The first time he went he came back with words which was crazy because he never spoke before that point!

    I have spent the whole month of June buried under a mountain of homework and homeschool planning. :P It’s been nuts to say the least! I’m excited to get started because I have an awesome homeschool co-op and an equally cool curriculum.

    • That sounds awesome! A lot of the homeschool co-ops in our area are very religious, but I’ve seen some of their curriculum and it looks like a lot of fun. Best of luck with homeschooling, can’t wait to read about it on your blog!