The Long Saga For School For My Daughter

The school situation for my daughter, Rose, has never been easy. Ok, I take that back. Finding a preschool for her was relatively straightforward, but not long after she started preschool she was diagnosed with autism, and when we tried to get her into a school for autistic kids I was told that I needed a second diagnosis first... and then we went through hell including being reported for social services for taking her for evaluations... but eventually that got resolved once the national disability insurance (I have no idea how to officially translate the name of this government body) gave her their own evaluation and agreed that she has autism. 

Once that was done, we were able to get her accepted to what is considered to be the best autism school in the region, that people move to this city to be able to send her to that school. Finally, for kindergarten she was in this school and she really thrived with all the therapies. I knew, however, that once she went to first grade the amount and quality of therapies she'd be getting would diminish tremendously, and I didn't want her to only have one year in that wonderful program, so despite being really bright, I decided to keep her back a year and she repeated kindergarten, and had a wonderful year.

First grade should be easy, no? Her kindergarten class was entirely girls, and they almost all were moving on to first grade. 

Only it wasn't.

There were two options for first grade classes for kids with autism in the entire city. One was in a coed school and one was a girls only school. I applied for the girls only school through our local special ed department and thought that that was it.

About a month ago, more or less, I was called up by the head of our local special ed department. They told me that the school where I wanted to send Rose was not opening up an autism class for first grade, and putting her in second grade wouldn't work either because that class was full, and instead they were sending her to a coed class near my house in a school that I was not ok with for a variety of reasons. 

I told them that I am not ok with that schooling option and asked if there was anything else, and they said no, that that was the only option. They wouldn't even let me send her into the nearby city where there was a coed autism class where some of her classmates would be attending, but said she would need to be in the local school. One of two girls in a class of mostly boys. I pleaded with them, asking if there was any other choice and they said that I could put her in a regular class and give her all the therapies after school on my own time transporting her to and from therapies. As a single mother with no car that is not an option, so I was stuck with an option that I was not ok with.

I can't get into the reasons why I was really not ok with this school placement, but suffice it to say I started crying when I heard. Flat out crying, painful tears. And after that, every single time I would talk about school with anyone I'd break down in tears. I discussed this with my therapist, whether I was overreacting and she said my feelings about it are totally reasonable, and the fact that every single time I talked about it made me cry showed just how important this was to me. I do not think I would ever come to terms with that school placement. Even when I talked to the woman who was to be her teacher, I literally broke down in tears.

I turned to the internet, posting in a group of other moms of autistic kids, about how ridiculous it was that they weren't opening even a single autistic girls class for first grade in the entire region (not just city, but the entire region around it) and someone told me about a school about an hour's drive from my home that was supposed to have a second/third grade class for autistic girls. A mother in that school told me about it, and I got my hopes up. Yes, it would be an hour ride, but Rose's bus ride was quite long already with all the pick ups and drop offs anyhow, and if she'd go there it would be just her and the driver, so not that much longer. Rose was ok with the idea of traveling as was my ex. 

I told the district special ed department that I would not be sending my daughter to the class they placed her in, but want to send her to that school in that city, and they said they didn't know about it and would look into it and let me know.

Today, the mom who I spoke to about that school contacted me, and asked what the progress was, because they were starting school on Wednesday. I told her I had not heard back from the district's special ed department, so she told me to call up the school. 

When I called that school up, my heart sank. They told me they did not have a first grade or a second grade at all for autistic girls, they only had a class of third and fourth graders, and fourth and fifth graders, nothing remotely close to a class for Rose's age. And the principal told me that even if they did have her grade, she'd recommend I not send her there, because they didn't get a budget at all for the autistic class so they won't even be able to give the girls therapies, which is the reason I'd want to send anyhow.

I was back in tears, again. Hopes dashed.

And then my bestie Michelle called me up and told me that she bumped into a mutual friend, whose daughter was in Rose's class these past two years, and she told Michelle that the school I'd originally wanted to send Rose to actually has one more room in its second grade class. (Her daughter was placed in that class.) I was shocked and excited and hopeful and surprised, because I was told that it was full and they wouldn't accept anyone else. 

I got the principal's phone number and called her up and told her that I'd heard that she had one more space in the class and I wanted my daughter to attend. She asked me why I hadn't applied earlier and I told her that I'd told my district special ed department that I wanted her placed there and I was expecting them to do that (as is their job) but they told me there was no room and wanted to place her elsewhere. She said that it is very late to be looking to accept kids, since school starts on Wednesday, and she doesn't have time to meet me or my daughter, etc... to see if she's suitable for the school. I told her that I am happy to come meet whenever she wants, and she said she'd look into it, and took my information.

About half an hour later of me sitting on pins and needles, she calls me back and tells me that the city municipality is aware of my daughter (my district is outside of the city) and she needs more information on my daughter, and asked me to send the documents I have from her school and about her, etc... I did this and then she called me back and said that my daughter seems like a good fit for the school, and she doesn't want to have my daughter wait and not start school on the same day as everyone else, so I should come with her on Wednesday to the first day of school (where parents and kids come to meet the teacher for a short time) and then afterwards she'll meet me and my daughter. She said from her end my daughter is in their school, I just need to work out with my district regarding transportation for her (kids in special ed get free door to door transportation to and from school). She mentioned Rose would be in class with lots of her classmates from this past year, which I knew, and made me smile.

I had been trying to get in touch with the district special ed office all day today but they didn't answer the phone. Finally I got through to them and told them that my daughter will be going to this school and they need to arrange everything. They said they'd see what they could do.

I finally could breathe. Things were working out. But it wasn't finalized until everything was guaranteed.

And then an hour ago I got an email from the district saying that it all worked out, she was accepted and the paperwork went through and she'll be going to the school I'd wanted her to go to anyhow, and they'd try to make sure that the transportation is worked out before then.

Today started off with me stressing out because what I thought was my one hope for getting a school that didn't make me cry was dashed, and then it ended on a high note with the finalization that everything worked out and she's going where I wanted her to go to in the first place.

I ended up speaking to the friend who had told Michelle that there was one more place in the class and she said that there always was one more place, it wasn't that something opened up. I told her that the district special ed department told me that there was no room and she pointed out to me that they were likely lying intentionally because they wanted my daughter in a local school for whatever reason, so they could get more funding, that they lose if my daughter goes to school in the city. Perhaps they wanted my daughter in that specific school so that there would be more than one girl there. Who knows...

But either way, I'm so glad I fought for my daughter and made sure that she is getting the school that I feel is best for her and fits with my family's value system among other things. Yes, this was a huge ball of stress, but hey, I'm glad that I found out two days before school started and not after.

All I can say is thank goodness. I am relieved. And no longer crying when I think of the coming school year.

(I added a new tag for my blog, Mama Bear, because when I fight like this for my kids I feel like a real mama bear protecting her cubs. Watch out world, I'm here to fight for them.)

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Wow what a run around but good on you for persevering! Wishing your daughter and your other children much success this school year and beyond.

  2. What fabulous news! It must be such a relief.

  3. For our Cubs, us Mama Bears have to be strong! Very happy it all worked out!

  4. I had to skip to the end to make sure things came out all right. Then went back and read the whole story. What a saga. And good for you. What a relief that must be.

  5. I'm glad it worked out and your daughter is getting an education suited for her. Keep up the good work!

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