Yesterday we had Alex's IPRC meeting (Identification, Placement and Review Committee, the group (including parents) who decide what supports Alex needs at school). And, as part of that, we found out where he is going to be going to school next year.
He has been at the autism program in his current school for the past three years and they've done a wonderful job with him. If the school went past grade 6, I'd have been happy to have him continue, but it is time for him to "graduate" to middle school. It's been reassuring knowing where he's going to be.
We had been hoping that a second autism class would open at a nearby middle school and that Alex would be able to attend. We've only gotten part of that wish. The second autism class is opening but they don't have enough room for all of Alex's class. Instead, he will be going to another school which is further away.
The teacher explained that she's recommended Alex go to this program for several reasons. First, she thinks the children in this new class will be closer to his level, developmentally and intellectually, than the children at the program near us. This new school's autism program places a high emphasis on learning, using and understanding technology, which is right up Alex's alley. Second, she warned about a personality conflict with one of the other children who is already at the middle school near us. When that child and Alex were in the same class before, there were a lot of behavioural challenges between the two of them. So she wouldn't recommend they end up in the same class again.
We will still have a "Bring Home" agreement where Alex will be the first one offered any spots which open up near us. However, from the sound of it, the new program may be one which is better suited to him, which may be worth him needing a longer time in transit. (We'll have to see just how long that transit actually is before making that decision.)
There's also the question of transitions. The middle school near us only offers grade 7 and 8 and then Alex would be transferred to the high school. If he has to switch schools at the end of grade 6, then again at some point within or after grade 7 and then again after grade 8, that's a lot of disruption. The new program offers grades 7, 8 and 9, transferring to high school in grade 10, so it would offer more consistency, if the program is working out.
We've agreed to the plan as is and, although it makes me nervous, we'll find out how everything is working out in the fall. I will get a chance to visit the new program with Alex's teacher before school ends and Alex will also be taken to see his new school and meet his new classmates and teachers.
It's not what we expected, but life has taught me not to get too attached to my expectations. Sometimes the unexpected turns out to be far better than what we had initially planned.