Monday, October 5, 2009
And Then What?
Two different people asked me last week whether I intend for Ashley to stay in school until she reaches her 23rd birthday (which is allowed under IDEIA), or if I will let her graduate with her class. Since Ashley started high school this year, perhaps I really should have an answer to that question, but I don’t.
Those of you with young children with special needs probably haven’t given much thought to the age at which your child will leave school. I know I didn’t. That time just always seemed so far away, something I didn’t need to think about. But with Ashley in high school this year, should I have an answer??
My first thought is yes, Ashley will stay until her 23rd birthday because the more education she gets, the better. But then I tell myself that for the most part she isn’t getting an education in our school district. Her real education comes from homeschooling after school and on the weekends. So if that is the case, what’s the point of her staying in school. It’s not like she is going to get a standard diploma if she hangs around. In my state, she will get a ‘certificate’ of completion, and she can get that with four years of high school or with 7 years of high school.
Of course, whenever she leaves school, there must be a plan for the next years. Where will she work? Where will she live? How will she connect with people? Who will be her ‘community’? There is so much planning and so many supports to be put in place for the post-high school years, that it seems very overhelming.
I honestly don’t know how to approach this whole issue. If any of you have older children, and have faced this issue, I would love to hear what your decisions were and how you helped your older child move to the next phase of their life.
Today I am thankful for our pediatrician’s office which has office hours for sick children seven days a week.