This Thursday we will have Colin's IEP meeting to discuss his current progress on his goals this year, his test results from all of the tests he has had done (reevaluations and educational/academic testing), and to discuss possible placement for next year. Prior to the meeting we decided to keep his current IEP in place for the remainder of the school year so that following the meeting I can look at placement options in the district before we actually decide on a placement.
This meeting has been on my mind for a long time now as I have been spending a lot of time reading educational law, researching the pros and cons for inclusion, talking with other parents in the same situation, and looking at the curriculum for next year. I have gone over everything in my head on a daily basis and have even played devils advocate with myself about what Chris and I feel is the best option for Colin. While I am feeling some relief that while placement will be discussed, nothing will be decided on yet nor will we have to discuss what plan we want in place FOR his placement for next year (the biggest stressor for me out of them all).
This is what Chris and I are feeling right now. We truly believe (and have backed this up with research) that inclusion in a typical kindergarten classroom is the best option for Colin (with pullouts/resource for more challenging subjects like math and possibly literacy). I have a couple of reasons for this. First of all, despite the fact the curriculum for Kindergarten is a rigorous one, we won't know what Colin is capable of until we try (this in itself is scary but we work so hard with Colin that we feel he can be successful). We KNOW what his limitations and challenges are but that doesn't mean with the right assistance he can't accomplish the goals that we set forth for him (that are set for ALL kindergarteners). Second, Chris and I expect that Colin will grow up to be an independent young man with a job working with his typical peers in the future. In order to successfully plan for that future, we need to expose him to the same society that we expect him to live in and that means working with his typical peers now. There are SO MANY benefits for Colin that include positive peer modeling and working constructively together in an inclusive classroom that that in itself is a reason to put him in the classroom.
It is Chris and my responsibility to make a decision that will positively impact Colin's educational experience and success in school and hopefully limit his frustrations; this is in itself scares me so much that I can't help but cry at the stress of this decision. We feel strongly about inclusion, but are scared at times that we can be making the wrong decision.
We practice with Colin at home with so many things and know that when Kindergarten approaches, we will do the same things for him next year as well. I also know that we currently work with a great team and will work together to decide on what's best for him.
I will keep you posted after Thursday....wish us luck!