Smart, funny, socially motivated, challenged special needs 7th grader looking for school

I have an almost 13 year old "high functioning" autistic kid who has been at special education placements for social, emotional and behavioral issues since mid-3rd grade. It has been suggested that he would benefit from intellectually challenging work at some other placement, but no other placement we know of that meets all his needs seems to exist. He is very bright, funny, interested in people and making friends, but is delayed in his social and emotional development. He has difficulty regulating his emotions and can become violent when triggered. (Feeling "stupid" worrying that someone else will think he's "stupid," being a beginner at something, competition, kids being mean and insulting him, feeling overwhelmed are all triggers.) However, he is very good at self reflection and talking about the issues when he has calmed down later. He really makes an effort.

On the one hand, in his current placement, there are other kids with similar challenges plus kids with more difficult challenges (varying degrees of physical, emotional and cognitive) and he has learned to accept lots of different ways of being and communicating and is very gracious and open. He has one on one support at all times and a team to help when he runs or when he lashes out or gets distraught. But there is no one else who really fits his profile and he doesn't have anyone who can be his buddy there. Last year he connected with younger kids and was able to move through some stages he never really got to, but he is maturing and feels a bit lost in his current classroom with 5 other kids of mixed older ages who are less social. He hasn't had much experience with "neurotypical" kids his age and I don't know how that would go and I am curious and hopeful, but I know kids can be mean and devastating, yet I also know they have the capacity to be kind and accepting.

Does anyone know of a school in or near Oakland (this would be paid for by the district, so no private schools, we need his IEP to be followed. Can be a Non Public School) that can provide contact with same age kids while still supporting him very closely for the challenges he has,  while stimulating him intellectually----not just throwing harder work at him, but helping him get interested in things he likes and can do that are challenging and interesting. (His I.Q. is 143)  The recommendation by the person who evaluated him (who is from LA and doesn't know the areas offerings) is for such a placement, but he isn't in one like that because we have never found one. Ideas welcome. BPN has always been amazingly helpful, and I thank you.

Parent Replies

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Hi--Have you explored The Phillips Academy in Alameda. I highly recommend this community for paying attention to the needs of all students and families. Good luck to you. Helen

Would you be able to do independent study? My 7th grade son goes to Berkeley Independent Study. He had a 504 in elementary school for ADHD. BIS is small but has middle school art and garden class (all grades) with other students. You go to 2 meetings a week with a math teacher and general Ed teacher. They frequently customize assignments to match interests. He does band at Longfellow. Does Oakland have that? Or Hickman charter school does independent study. We had friends who lived in Richmond but got a transfer to go to BIS. Good luck!

We are not so hot on Phillips Academy, our son had a bad experience (restraint and seclusion) with Children's Learning Center when he was there in 3rd grade and some of the same staff are at Phillips now.