Nicole’s New School

We got a call towards the end of September offering Nicole a spot at Spectrum Academy.  It’s a charter school for kids with Autism.  We toured the school last year and felt like it would be a really good option for Nicole.  I really love my kid’s home school (Foothill Elementary) and I loved having all 4 of my school aged kids in one school.  Unfortunately, I felt like our home school didn’t have the perfect place for Nicole.  The regular ed class is too big and didn’t have enough support and the small group seemed too restrictive and not challenging enough.  I love the idea of her being in a class with her peers.  Kids with the similar abilities and similar disabilities.  The thing that I was most excited about is that they said they were seeing the kids develop genuine friendships.

They gave us 48 hours to decide or they’d offer our spot to someone else.  Spectrum Academy does a lottery system for enrollment, so it can be tough to get in.  Clearly by the title of the post, you know what we decided.  We got the call on Tuesday and she started at her new school the following Monday.  I picked Nicole up early from her last day of school at Foothill on Friday.  This picture is of Nicole with her Foothill teachers.9.25.15  (2)

Her teachers have been very kind and supportive.  I felt a little sad pulling her out.  I took her straight from Foothill over to Spectrum so she could see the school and meet some of her new teachers.  This is Nicole in her homeroom.9.25.15  (3)

The school runs a little bit like a Jr High.  The students start out in homeroom and then they go to other classrooms for other subjects depending on their levels.  They test the students to determine appropriate levels for math, reading, ect.  If the student preforms well, they can move up, if the work is too challenging/stressful, they can move down.  It’s a continuously leveled system.  The whole school is designed for kids with autism which is particularly evident in places like the bathrooms.  It’s a new experience for all of us.  Nicole was telling me about the upcoming fire drill for two days and we got an email from the principal about it before it happened.  (Things like fire drills can be traumatic for these kiddos).

Here is Nicole on her first day at Spectrum:9.28.15  (2)

She has been in her new school for about a month now.  I asked her today which school is better and she said “Foothill is better because it’s the best school and it has more stuff” but when I asked her if she wanted to go back to Foothill she said that she wanted to keep going to Spectrum so that she could “get used it it.”

She had her first friend from Spectrum over on Thursday.10.15.15  (8)She was super excited to have her friend over, but they occasionally had to be reminded to play together instead of just doing their own things.
10.15.15  (6) 10.15.15  (1)

I feel like I don’t know exactly how she’s doing at school because I haven’t been able to observe her at school.  They require background checks to enter the school and I can’t volunteer to help out in the classroom on a regular basis.  I can schedule 15 minute observations which I haven’t done yet since I wanted to give her a chance to learn the routines.

The school itself is about 15 minutes away which means it has added more than an hour in the car to my daily schedule.  Since she started I have felt like my schedule is more demanding and stressful.  I think I expected to have more free-time with 4 kids in school.  I suppose that might have been true if I wasn’t volunteering in the schools as much as I am and if I didn’t have a half day kindergartner breaking up my day.

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