December 22, 2014

Special Ed or Mainstream?

I've seen this question a lot: if special ed is recommended, do you do that or try a mainstream class, maybe with a shadow?

My opinion is based on my own experiences and the way the system works here. Your system may be very different.

The way I see it, is if I get a referral or a service is offered, I usually take it. Because (here, at least) waiting lists are often long and there's always a pile of paperwork and bureaucracy to wade through. When an opening comes, I usually jump at it!

Also know that referrals aren't given freely to just anyone. Most likely, if a doctor or other professional is recommending something, it's because you really need it. (Again, here our health care is subsidized, so doctor's don't get any benefits/compensation for referrals. If anything, they try *not* to give referrals or burden the system unnecessarily.)

It's also helpful to not think of any recommendation as the way something has to be forever. In other words, just because your child needs special ed now does not mean they will be in special ed FOREVER. Even that is not a bad thing!

One of my favourite mottos is "temporary discomfort for permanent improvement." I believe in working with and supporting a child as well as possible when they need it, and then easing them out to more challenging situations when ready. So I'd much rather a few years of intense work and focus on my child while young, than to have him turn around in his teens and say, "you didn't support me fully when I really needed it and now I'm struggling."

I believe in taking full advantage of the services you agree with, when they are offered.

I also think it's easier to get into special ed and then go mainstream, than it is to be mainstream and then have to fight to get into special ed. If you mainstream for years and hit a roadblock, you have to start the whole evaluation process over again, which takes up valuable time. Meanwhile, your child struggles and falls further behind. That's a blow to their confidence.

I'm not really sure why parents seem to fight the idea of special ed so much. There is nothing shameful or bad about it. I love the fact my son gets so much attention focused on him (and so does he). I love how they work on his individual goals. There is simply no other place I would see him this supported, I don't think.
With time, we will start inclusion and then maybe move to a mainstream school with a shadow. But I'm in no rush!

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