Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Experiments in What?

In my efforts to find alternatives for Jessica’s adult life, I found the article linked below in our city newspaper:

Life Skills Program

I’m pretty familiar with the school referenced in the article, the Faison School. Many of my local school districts either choose to send or are forced to send (due process decisions) children with autism to Faison. The school itself has a good reputation, and is considered a good placement for children with some of the most significant behavior problems. Faison is private school that costs a great deal of money. Although their website points out that they are a 501-3C non-profit organization, and that they are part of a public/private partnership with our local university, the cost of attending Faison is quite large (10’s of thousands of dollars a year). With those costs, you can see why many parents challenge their school districts to provide placement at Faison at school district expense. No one, however, not school district or parents, can dispute that the school is good and that most of the students begin to finally make good academic progress.

So given that reputation, when the article appeared in the newspaper about Faison wanting to create a residnetial community where people with developmental disabilities could live a little more independently than most group home and institutions provide, my interest was piqued. But one phrase I saw in the article concerns me. That phrase is “laboratory school.”

I wonder just what the heck “laboratory school” means and will the proposed residential community also be a “laboratory community”?

Read the article and check out the school’s website and let me know what you think?


Anonymous said...

I don't think the term laboratory school is anything to worry about. I think it means that they work along with colleges and may use newer ways to educate. Of course you would always want to look into it.:) I did find this wikipedia entry on laboratory schools.

The residential living sounds great.

Esbee said...

The lab school in Washington DC is very highly regarded as a great place to get progressive education outside of the box. Places there are very well sought after by parents with children who learn best through nontraditional methods. It's like the opposite of a "factory-style" education.

Ashley's Mom said...

Marla and Esbee, thank you both for your comments. It makes me feel much better about the proposed community. One more question though - are the kids observed or any data concerning them used for university projects or programs?

Anonymous said...

I live in such a community--I'm a paid roommate for three young women with dev. dis. and our apartment is part of a larger project. We live in a neighborhood with housing for teachers, fire fighters, etc. but it's mixed with our project and part of the redevelopment of a larger neighborhood. There are many living options--if you haven't already, check out organizations such as TASH, which can help you find out more about living options. I'm fortunate to live in CA where people with dev. dis. have entitlement to services--even if they move here from elsewhere--so theoretically we have no waiting lists. If someone wants to move out of their parents home and they meet criteria for dev. dis., their regional center caseworker will help them find a place.

You might also google words like "supported living" and "supported life" to help find other options. What the article describes is not new.

Ashley's Mom said...

Thanks, anonymous! I have hope now that I may be able to find a living situation for my oldest daughter that is pleasing to both her and me, her overprotective, worrying mother :)

Penny L. Richards said...

Blame John Dewey (1859-1952)--he started the first Laboratory School at the University of Chicago. It's just the name of a model for progressive education programs that have a connection to a university.

Anonymous said...

The data is used primarily to look at student progress and make decisions about how to best educate and challenge the student. There are also opportunities to participate in research, on a completely voluntary basis. The research may consist of data that has already been collected, or new methods may be introduced. For more information about research opportunities, visit