When my family and I moved to New Jersey, I was three years old at the time. One of the biggest reasons that we moved from Brooklyn, NY to New Jersey was because of me; There were not much services and therapies left that the state could offer me after I reached that age. After some thinking and research, my parents thought it was best for me to attend a specialized school. I attended Children’s Center of Monmouth County, a specialized school for students with Autism and multiple disabilities. It is located in Neptune, NJ. When I was in 2nd grade, the child study team at Children’s Center felt that I progressed so much that they believed I was ready to be put into my town’s school district. My parents weren’t sure at first, but they could tell I was ready to move on.
In 3rd grade, I was placed in my town’s school district and attended a public school: Frank J. Dugan Elementary school. I started out in special education class for math and reading, and in a general classroom with supplementary instruction and services for science and social studies. I shared about my elementary school years in a separate blog story called, “Being a new kid”, so you may check out that story to read more about my experiences in being in my town’s school district.
In 6th grade, which was when I was in middle school, I was in all resource classrooms. By the end of my middle school years, I was placed in all general education classrooms with supplementary instruction and services, except for science, which I still was in a resource classroom for. In high school, I was mainstreaming in all my classes. My last year of high school was when I had one class in which I no longer had any special education support, which was for Math. For instance, I was one of the two students in my Math class that got exempt from the final at the end of the school year, due to my academic success in that class. You can read more about my middle school experiences and my high school experiences in these separate blog stories: “Middle School Years” and “High School Years”. Overall, I progressed in my education over the years and developed a lot.
It is really important for educators, child study teams, and parents to pay attention to how the individual is doing in their education and carefully consider the specific program characteristics that will help the individual make the most of academic and social opportunities. I felt that my town’s school district was amazing for providing me the most opportunities, both academically and socially; my teachers and peers helped me grow in so many ways, from learning new strategies to learn about each subject to creating and maintaining friendships. Everyone has to consider the following when it comes to classroom placement: from classroom environment itself, to instructional procedures in the classroom, and to staff training and development about Autism. It takes a village to impact an individual, so everyone has to work together to learn the best kind of education for that individual.