By Kim Stagliano
It's what we in CT call "PPT" season. That's when we go over IEPs, plan transitions, talk about Extended School Year programs and generally recap the school year. I have the pleasure (insert sarcasm emoticon here) of attending 3 PPTs each year. My oldest daughter is in her second year of high school. She has two more years on campus and then embarks on the "transition" period that for our district, has been called the ELITE program. And guess what - our SPED and adult transition team has realized early on that the ELITE program, which now has students with Down Syndrome, physical disabilites and other non-autism diagnoses simply will NOT WORK for the four students with autism headed toward adulthood. (Insert shocked face emoticon here.) The district has invited us parents of high school kids with autism to help plan what their "gap" years will look like. Those are their years between the 4th year of high school which is on campus and the remaining years until age 22 when they "age out" (insert vomit face emoticon here.) I'm fortunate that they see that autism is VERY DIFFERENT from other disabilities and requires something brand spanking new - cut from whole cloth. And I'm excited and encouraged to create a working program for my kids.
My middle child is a freshman in the autism room at our high school. She will follow right behind her older sister.
My baby - that sweet kid in the photo above - is transitioning to middle school, 6th grade. Her oldest sister blazed the middle school autism program. There was no program for autism in our district for Middle School in 2007. Again, the district realized that they had to adapt the elementary program for the Middle School academic format. And they did.
The device Bella is lying in is called a "steamroller." It's a deep pressure machine that rolls over the body - and as you can see, my little pal is quite comfortable in it. Temple Grandin talks extensively about her "Squeeze machine." The company that now makes Temple's machine just started following me on Twitter and we had a chat. Their machine uses air pressure controlled by the user.
So what does this have to do with school? During my PPT meeting on Wednesday, the school alerted me that they were buying a steamroller for the middle school. We had mentioned it briefly at one of our review meetings last winter. And they listened. And spent money! For my kid. I love that. It will be in her classroom and she will have access to its calming effects.
What does your school do that makes your life less stressful and your child's day more successful? And do you think we should get a king sized steamroller for the entire Stagliano family?
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel, House of Cards; A Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.