Our wonderful eight year old daughter has just been diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD. She is currently in a public school in the West Contra Costa district and is doing fine academically, but has been having trouble making friends. I'm wondering if anyone has worked with West Contra Costa school district to get disability accomodations, I would love to hear any advice you would be willing to share. Thanks so much! worried mom
I have worked as an advocate with several families of children with Aspergers in WCUSD. Is your daughter already receiving special education or 504 services? If so, request a meeting in writing to discuss your concerns. The link below contains phone numbers and emails for special education personnel. If your daughter is not already receiving services, write to ask for assessment for 504 and special education services and say that you would like them to proceed simultaneously. The IEP process is long and onerous, and possibly unnecessary if her needs can be met by a 504 plan. A 504 plan provides modifications and accommodations that are needed for her to have an opportunity perform at the same level as her peers, and may proceed more quickly than special education assessment. It's not a substitute for special education, however, if that is what she needs. In addition to whatever recommendations you get from other parents, I suggest you just call or email the program specialist for your area with your specific questions and to find out whether any schools already have social thinking programming (check out www.socialthinking.com too). The beginning of the year is frantic, so you may need to follow an email or faxed letter with a phone call. You can find the special education directory here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3u4xd5s dana
We are looking into kindergarten options. Our son was diagnosed with high functioning autism and has sensory processing issues. He is too advanced for a special day class but needs help with social skills and is a bit uncoordinated. Academically, he is on target.
We live in Kensington and want him go to our local school (with his twin sister and a bunch of other neighborhood kids) but are getting mixed signals from the school district. We had always envisioned him going to Hilltop in a general ed class with support-- possibly a shared aide and OT and speech therapy on site.
My main question- are there any Kensington residents who send their special needs kids to Hilltop? If so, how has it been? What about El Cerrito and Richmond families who live close by? I know that the school has an OT room and 2 speech therapy rooms so it seems to me that they are structurally set up. The principal is a former special ed teacher so it would appear that there might be support from the administration.
Any other Kensington residents in the same situation? We could ban together and show that there is a need for services and support at Hilltop. It just doesn't make any sense to me to send children with special needs away from their community and social structure. We think that children not only learn in the classroom but by relationships with kids on the block and after school playtimes.
My friends ended up leaving there and transfering to Madera and ended up at Castro full inclusion, where they are happier. The people who are trying to dissuade you from attending there probably understand the school-staff-community dynamics and know what might happen. Although the school does have speech and OT rooms it doesn't mean the staff are trained to work with these children whose needs are more intense. Also the staff don't have the support or material on site (ie a Special Ed teacher or things such as programs to make visual schedules). The admin people actually might be trying to save him from all the negative past experiences of other children with special needs. It is sad to think that attending your neighborhood school may not be the best place for your child but you also want to do what's best for him. You also need to trust your gut instinct, if you feel like the school doesn't have ALL the resources you need then you need to look elsewhere or make sure they are in place and that the staff know how it is to work and are willing to do it BEFORE you child steps foot into the classroom. This is a lifelong process that never gets easier, just changes as the kids grow. Best of luck down a LONG road. isn't it sad?
I am not a parent of a special needs kid, but I have two kids at Hilltop, and my daughter's class, in particular, has special needs kids in it, at least one with autism. I think both teachers (at least the 1st and 2nd grade teachers I've had experience with) and the principal are attentive to addressing any special needs in the classroom-- as you mentioned, just talk to Principal Sanders about it-- she is very responsive. anon
I do not have a special needs child at Hilltop, but my child attends Hilltop, has some learning issues and has an IEP. Not really sure who you spoke to in the district and I am not sure what you were expecting the district to tell you. They probably would prefer that you sent your child somewhere else as it is less for them to deal with. By law they cannot tell you that and they have to serve the needs of your child.
If you have not done so, please call Principal Judy Sanders and at the very least have a phone conversation with her. I am sure you will find her to be a fine Hilltop Ambassador, and I think you could get a clear idea of the services that will be available to you. You can then decide whether you think this would work for your child.
You might also ask the BPN for some opinions on CASTRO, which although is not in Kensington, has an excellent special needs program.
Overall, they have bent over backwards to address my child's needs. I think the teachers so far have been exceptional. They have used every trick in the book, every motivator, every alternative learning method available to make it work. I've been impressed. Anon