feet-349687_1920We are in limbo. Everything is on hold as we wait to see what happens with my daughter’s placement. School started in our district on Monday, August 22nd, and the following week, on August 29th, at Open Mind School (OMS). As I mentioned in previous posts, OMS is the full-inclusion private school that teaches children on the spectrum age-appropriate material using the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) and lots of technology. Almost three weeks after Katie should have started school (or two, depending on which start date you use), I’m still holding my breath, hoping a placement at OMS will materialize.

My school district, of course, has continued to push the Oakland school I rejected in February, arguing that it has space and can take Katie immediately. But OMS has space too. Or at least, it could make space if Katie was a fit with their program.

We have a visit to OMS scheduled for next week. I’m nervous and edgy, not sure how the visit/assessment will go. Katie is anxious too. Her internal clock tells her it’s time to return to school, but where? Katie hasn’t attended a traditional school since last January. I assured her she would never go back to Christensen Middle School—the place where her sensory overload and anxiety grew to catastrophic proportions—but wasn’t sure what to else to tell her.

The Special Education Director said she didn’t want Katie to lose the gains made this summer. I found her concern ironic given our history, but kept my mouth shut. The truth was, I worried about that too. After seven years with no academic progress to speak of, Katie had finally jumped ahead, and I didn’t want to lose that momentum.

garden-1176406_1920The solution came to me as I pulled weeds in my front yard. I sent a few texts to the awesome summer school aides in hopes of setting up an interim program while we wait. Nothing fancy. Just two or three hours every morning like we did this summer. I’ll worry about getting the district to reimburse me later. Plus we still have speech therapy to make up from last year. And of course, RPM. The manual suggests that we do a little every day. We didn’t this summer, but from now on I want to make that a daily practice. I also hope to bring Barb back for reading tutoring if she’s available.

In other words, I can keep Katie busy while we work through the process of getting her into OMS. We should not lose any momentum.

Assuming she gets in. But what if she doesn’t? What then?

Part of me knows home schooling is an option I should seriously consider. Yet I also feel, as a single parent, that it’s a bad option for Katie and me. We need time apart. Plus I need to work and earn money—something that has been in short supply this year as I’ve struggled with the school situation.

product_tn32_A_Z_StencilI also know my limitations. I am many things, but a special needs teacher I am not. Our RPM sessions are making this abundantly clear. Yet we continue to plug away because after nearly a decade of failed efforts by three different schools districts, RPM is the only thing I’ve seen that allows Katie to easily demonstrate what she knows and comprehends.

It’s the “miracle” I’ve been searching for ever since Katie was diagnosed.

So this week I’m cobbling together a make-shift school program and crossing my fingers that everything works out. Experience has taught me that it will. Just not in the ways I expect.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Until next time,


About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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