School choice makes our neighborhood choice

This morning, once Gameboy got on the school bus, we drove once again over to Lakeland. The game plan was to visit the two schools whose attendance area we'd found potential houses. We'd bring Gameboy's IEP and the narrative we wrote to see which school would best be able to meet his needs.

If you're new to my blog, my eldest son has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He is also diagnosed with a whole host of other issues that make him a complex student to place. Academically, he's 11th/12th grade level. Emotionally, he's a preschooler. Our narrative tells what challenges Gameboy presents, what motivates him and what will trigger the dreaded meltdowns. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

We had to make a decision. Do we go to the school further away or the one that puts us in the family's neighborhood? I said we should try that one first. We pull into the huge parking lot. The campus is immaculate and only two or three students were seen when we were trying to locate the main office. A young man, clearly with Asperger's or OCD sees the adults and says "the office is that way" as he walks past. We almost pass the door and he calls back to us "you need to go in that door!" Shades of Gameboy.

The ladies in this office are pleasant and helpful. We explained why we were there and what we were looking to accomplish. The placement coordinator was in meetings all day. We chatted for a few minutes, with the suggestion that we contact the district coordinator. We were given her phone number and they wished us luck. (I was thinking that I could enjoy dealing with the staff here-the staff at his current middle school does not have any warmth.)

We drive towards downtown and call the number. She answers her phone. Better still, she tells us to come over and she'll look over Gameboy's IEP and give us suggestions. Her office is literally five minutes from where we were.

After a brief misdirection, we arrive at the office and are introduced to the district coordinator. We spent a half an hour with her and were assured that no matter where we go, the county will be able to provide Gameboy with his needed services. Their philosophy is to staff each school to meet a variety of needs, rather than have magnet schools for the various ESE needs.

We've had experiences with both types of programs. I think both of us prefer the magnet approach, but that's because of the learning curve and transition hell we go through in the 'catchall' environment. However, it was comforting to know they'd be able to meet his needs at the two schools we were considering (and apparently, staffers in each school have kids on the spectrum in the family).

It was reassuring to us that we could pick a house to rent based on other factors. Phew. Honestly, we want to live closer to Ed's family. We look at it as time to get back some of what we've given in terms of help. We know that the scale will be tipped heavily towards us doing a lot for them, but if we live in the same neighborhood, they'll be called on to watch the boys after school or if both Ed and I are at work. (That'd really be a first for us. Maybe have some of OUR stress reduced, instead of increased)

Before heading back home, we drove into the neighborhood right up the block from mom's. The other day, we rolled through and only saw 'For Sale' signs, but and one of the realty websites showed a house over there. We located it and it seems on a par with the three nice ones in the other neighborhood.

Once at home, Ed called the numbers we had for the three houses we haven't seen yet. We have an appointment to see one tomorrow morning-awaiting calls on the other two. I'm reserving judgment, but something is telling me we'll be living in the house we looked at the other day.

One of the bright sides of working retail-an abundance of boxes at your disposal. I asked the receiving manager to save me boxes today, so I'll be in good shape. My coworkers expressed disbelief that I'd move 'so far away', but honestly, I will now have the same commute as the other five managers. Everyone lives 45 minutes from the store.

Our goal is to have a lease signed by Friday with keys in hand. Tomorrow, I'll call Pods. I am wondering if we can load up, have it picked up and then transported over there without it costing an arm and a leg. There are some heavy pieces of furniture to contend with and I'm not thrilled with moving them.

I can say we made progress today. A very big question mark can be erased. For a change, there aren't others to replace it!


Anonymous said…
Oh it sucks to have to move. 45 minutes is a long drive to. I feel for you!

My cousin has Asperger's Syndrome. He is about two and a half years younger than me. It took them a long time to come up with that diagnosis too. I'm glad there is a good school system for him out there.

Btw, I tagged you on my blog!

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