One of the things that was said -- this time by me :) -- at last Tuesday's meeting was that there is no other place in our school system for my son. I've said it before in this blog, I've said it in other venues, and it's my "parental input" comment on his IEP -- that this is the least inappropriate placement of what's available in our school system.
My son's IEP chair has responded that they believe that this is the right placement for him. And then at other times, she has made comments like, "That's STEM. I don't know about that." Does anyone else see the disconnect between those statements?
On Tuesday, I said it again: There is no other place for him. A response came not from the Director of Special Education but from the Supervisor of STEM: If the STEM program disappeared tomorrow, the school system would have a program for your son. I beg to differ. The school system had no program for my son before he entered the STEM program, and the STEM program meets only part of his needs. If the STEM program disappeared tomorrow, in existence at this time is the Autism program, and the Autism program meets only part of his needs. Special Education won't get him gifted curriculum, only work with it if he gets it, but the only gifted programming in our middle schools is Honors Reading and Honors Math, and those aren't programs -- they're classes. There is no other placement that is a program, that groups him with his academic peers, that provides-across-the-board opportunities for rigor, that he buys into.
I've never been able to get the Department of Special Education and the Department of Gifted Instruction to work together. (I first visited the Supervisor of the latter department in the summer between 1st and 2nd grades; my son is now in 8th grade.) Representatives of both departments have been at the IEP table with little that was useful coming from it. Even recently, when the (Executive) Director of Special Education donned the hat of overseeing Student Services, no connections were made between Gifted and Special Education.
Our school system is in a unique position: The Executive Director of Special Eduction also wears the hat of Executive Director of Student Services, which is tasked with providing "a developmental program for all students to maximize their personal and social skills as well as identify career goals" and with consulting "with school personnel in planning, implementing, and evaluating school programs to meet educational, behavioral, or emotional need of students." What better time than now for the partnering of Special Education and Gifted? They need to get into the same sandbox; then they need to work hard and be nice about it.
Our school system has the opportunity to become a leader in meeting the needs of the twice exceptional. When parents are forced to say, "They have 2e programming in other school systems -- why not ours?" let's make our school system be that other one. Now is the time to make 2e programming happen.