KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Son's Journey Through the Public Education System

I am so proud of my middle child, Neil, who's 11.

Neil has spent sixth grade this year at a middle school in the Eastern Suffolk BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) system that serves kids with learning disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD, formerly known as ADD), high-functioning autism, Asperger's disorder, and more. For those of you not familiar with BOCES-like systems, school districts across Long Island, where I live in New York State, purchase educational services from BOCES when they can't provide them themselves. (That means my school district is paying BOCES for Neil's education, because none of its schools are set up for lots of small classrooms—6 to 10 students each—and the extra staff that entails. Though it makes housing prices high here, I love living in a relatively wealthy school district, because it means Neil gets the absolute best of everything he needs.)

I attended the meeting of the district's CSE (Committee on Special Education) this morning for its annual review of Neil's IEP (individualized education plan), which state and federal laws require. Some of the committee members have been working on Neil's case since way back when he was in kindergarten and 4—almost 5—years old and his AD/HD was diagnosed. They were so amazed at how far he's come over the years—from the little boy who'd hide under his desk in a mainstream classroom with 25 students because he was overwhelmed by all of the distractions to the preteen who, last year, was given a presidential award for excellence in education and this year (for nearly the entire school year) has been designated a Jefferson Leader, which gives him all sorts of extra privileges that other students with less self-control don't get (extra time in the gym's weight room, special field trips, etc.). His grades way back then were average or just below average; they've been mostly A's and some B's for a few years now. He's maturing, self-controlled, and empathetic and even has learned some organizational skills, all things that are hard for kids with AD/HD to be and do. He's Neil Nye the Science Guy (remember PBS's Bill Nye the Science Guy?), who wants to one day to find a cure for cancer or AD/HD. ;-)

The CSE has decided that Neil's ready to take a big step toward getting back to a mainstream school, and my husband and I agree. So this fall, he'll attend a mainstream school that has a BOCES program within it. He will attend some BOCES classes (generally 6 to 10 students in a class, with 1 teacher and 1 teaching paraprofessional, which makes it far easier for students to concentrate) and some mainstream classes. This will be a big help, because it's not the academics that are hard for Neil anymore; it's the social skills, and I think it always will be. This setting will ease him into dealing with less-controlled classrooms, lunchrooms, and school hallways.

This kid has had to take the harder road ever since he started public school, yet he still has courage and never gives up. He's gonna be one hell of a fine adult.



pissed off patricia said...

Thank you for visiting Morning Martini and also thank you for telling me about your little boy. Bless his heart, he seems to be doing great. I have a feeling mom and dad also had a hand in his success. :)

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Yeah, we're the kind of involved parents that the Committee on Special Education likes to work with, and we have high expectations of all of our children. :-)

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