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.


Corrie Howe said...

I wish I could help. I my children are younger. I'm looking to moms like you.

Dalya said...

I think you should these things consider when it gets close to her natural completion of high school:

dose she have a core of friends that graduation would be special with or sad without?

how dose ashley feel, dose she want another 3 years?

Will 3 more years allow her to work or will she able to hold a job after 4 years of hs?

Is she able to work at all? what jobs could she do?

do you want any of those jobs for your child?

And I think most of all will she be joining Jessica in a group home or remaining with you?

I'm sure you've thought of all of these before but try looking them objectively and try seeing if you can get Ashley's opinion on what she would like to do. All the while remembering, while to you, Ashley is normal and perfect that to the rest of the uniformed and judging world sees her as a deaf-blind wheelchair-bound individual and will most likely guess that she has some sort of developmental delay, which is EXTREMELY wrong of them. Goodness knows just being Deaf can cause people to have those thoughts on my mental capacity. I hope you will also turn to God for the answer as well as family and those close to you and in the coming years you find good answer.


Esbee said...

This is where a friend of mine whose son is aging out of our school system has decided upon: The Enrichment Center.

We also have Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind.

Both are very well thought of day programs that allow individuals across a broad spectrum of abilities to work with dignity.

Do you have anything like either there? The Enrichment Center one especially reminds me of Ashley, given that she enjoys art so much.

Azaera said...

That's a tough one, Dalya has so many good points. I'm not sure how I would feel about Skyler graduating or staying in school a lot longer. And I have no idea what kind of job he can get. Though I am sure there are many. I think I'm going to wait until he is much older and he can help decide what to do since it will be his life that it's going to impact upon.

Terri said...

Our "plan" (stop laughing!) is to keep Jenn enrolled in school, but the last couple years will be in a transition/vocational/secondary ed type setting....

At least that is what we think tonight!

MMC said...

For me (the Blue Jay is 16 and just started high school this year), the key factor in whether we keep her in an extra year (here they can stay in school until they are 21) is what services she will be able to access when she finishes Grade 12.

If she doesn't go on to Community College, then we will have to have some sort of plan in place and services she can access re: employment and living situation. So if that's not in place, if she can't access the required services at that time, she will likely stay in school that extra year. At least, that's the plan at the moment.

Karen said...

Family love, to me, is the most valuable thing you have in your life. If you didn't have your family, you wouldn't go anywhere. When you were down, they were there for you. When you needed something they tried to make that happen. When you think you don't have a family, you do. All you need to do is just give them a little call and they will be there for you. I got kicked out of the house when I was 18 and I had nowhere to go. I was around a wrong crowd and got into drugs. My addiction to meth was so bad, I nearly died. I realized that my life wasn't going anywhere and I needed help. The first people that I called and the only people that I called was my mom and dad. They were very happy to help me and got me into a drug rehab program. I am currently on the program and I can already tell that things are getting back to normal. I'm getting my life back, and most important I'm getting my family back.