The Waiting is (Almost) Over–An Update

back-to-schoolI am tremendously happy to share that next week my daughter will begin attending the fabulous Open Mind School (OMS). This innovative private school, located in Redwood Shores, uses technology and rapid prompting method (RPM) to teach children with various learning challenges, including autism, age-appropriate curriculum. The school is the first full-inclusion school in California, and it seeks to improve outcomes in special education.

And if that weren’t enough, the building is located adjacent to the Bay Trail. The views out every window are, quite simply, to die for.

It’s been a long, painful journey for both Katie and I to get to this point. For the first time, I feel like we have found a true game changer—as opposed to simply kicking the special education “can” further down the road. And never was a game changer more needed. I truly believe that OMS will help set my daughter’s big, beautiful brain free.

dandelion-437827_1920Or put another way, I think this is the year that Katie finally blooms.

In order for us to make the proposed start date of October 24th, we had to scramble, particularly the past week, which was hugely stressful. It was literally down to the wire, with many late nights for me (and probably the Special Education Director as well). But in the end, it all came together better than I had hoped.

Katie will start at OMS next week with a part-time schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This should avoid the worst of the commute traffic and successfully ease her back into a more traditional school setting while the OMS staff get to know her better. They will provide one hour of group speech while my district covers the one-to-one speech services with a therapist Katie and I both like.

On Monday and Thursday, I hope to hire the two aides who rocked summer school. (As of a month ago, they both said they had time available and would love to continue where they left off.) Assuming this works out, I plan to do three-hour sessions in the morning, and then do speech, art, adaptive riding, RPM tutoring, and other fun stuff in the afternoon. This will cut down on Katie’s time in the taxi, and for now at least, give her the best of both worlds.

If I manage to hire the two amazing aides, we can stick with this schedule all year and I really won’t care. Or we can transition Katie to a full-time schedule at OMS. Either way is a win for us.

My school district didn’t agree to this arrangement voluntarily, but district staff have expressed interest in seeing how this placement plays out for Katie. She has been out of school for 45 days this year—not to mention all the lost time in previous years—so we have a lot to make up for. If any place can do it, it’s Open Mind School.

As for my book, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, I have nothing new to report. As far as I know, it’s still being printed. But it should make an appearance any day now….

No matter what, the year that’s unfolding is going to be exciting. Our bags are packed. We’re ready to go.


I can’t wait to see what happens.

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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