It's TURNING 5 Tuesday - did you miss the first post? Catch up HERE.
My search for the "appropriate" school placement began in the fall of 2010 - the same time I started this blog. The Boy was going to start kindergarten in September 2011 and I wanted to weigh all the options. I wanted time.
If you have child with special needs who will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2014 - NOW is the time to start the process.
That's right - a whole year. Because it's a long process. So where do you start? I would suggest starting with schools. In New York City - there's a lot of school. Well, not a lot, but enough to keep you busy.
Because you'll need to tour. Gather paperwork (and possibly evidence). Apply. Wait. Cross your fingers, light a candle, say a prayer. And if your kid gets in...be prepared to prove to the Department of Education that it's the most appropriate.
Let me back up...because I can hear all the questions you're yelling at the computer.
What schools should I tour?
ALL of them. Seriously. If not all, then as many as you can. Public, private and even the ones you can't afford. Do your research. Ask questions. Browse school websites.
Where do I find special needs schools?
Believe it or not, there are a few ways to find schools that provide special needs services. I started with A Parent's Guide to Special Education in New York City - it really helped. I read through the book, took notes and did further research.
Then, I attended a special needs school fair at the JCC in Manhattan. This year, it's being held on Thursday, October 24, 2013. You can register for the event - HERE. At the fair, I was able to schedule an appointment to tour, speak to school representatives and get applications. And it was a good way to weed out the schools I knew wouldn't work for The Boy.
But the best way to find out about schools is to talk to other parents who've been there, done that. If you've never been to a support group - now would be the time to go. For Bronx parents - check out the Bronx Parents Autism Network. There's a meeting on October 8th. Don't be shy about asking parents where their children go to school.
What about the local public school?
Visit your zone school, even if you know it's not appropriate for your child - just go to say that you did. Visit the DOE website. Make an appointment to tour local District 75 schools. And check out other special education programs like the ASD Nest Program or ASD Horizon program. Visit the NYC Resources page for more information - HERE.
What paperwork do I need? What do I include in the application?
Most school applications require a recent evaluation (more on that next week) as well as past evaluations. Some applications will ask current teachers to fill out some sections. Applications can be 3 - 15 pages long (yes, I'm serious) and most have a fee (save your money) and a deadline of when to apply. Many schools will like the application before the Christmas break.
I can feel your head spinning so I'll stop here. Remember the Turning 5 process is a lengthy process and I want to help. There will be more information regarding schools and the application process. So check back every Tuesday.
And don't forget - there's a FREE Turning 5 Talk on 9/25 and 10/16 - click HERE for more details.
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.