Below is an article I wrote for the Iron Gate newsletter. I volunteered to be the class reporter because I have so much free time.
"The gate only swings one way: in"
At least, I think thats what Teacher P said. We were having a meeting, Teacher P and I, along with Teacher K and my son Leelo's therapists, Supervisor M and Therapist F. We were discussing my concerns over the 4Day class's appropriateness for Leelo next year.
I was worried that Leelo's autism would isolate him, that he wouldn't be able to participate as fully as the other children, and that our family would be abusing the goodwill of the participating parents in the more intense 4Day environment.
Teacher P's reply emphasized why I feel so lucky to have Leelo at Iron Gate. She told me that Leelo is already a part of this community. The children know him, the parents know him, and his aide Therapist F should be able to take care of any extra needs as she already does.
Teacher P reminded me that Leelo already learns at a different level than the other children, and that we shouldn't be judging his September needs by his March abilities. She even mentioned how important she thinks it is for children with different abilities to attend Iron Gate, so that the other children can realize how varied their community is.
I couldn't be more grateful for that community. We really appreciate it every time a parent or child takes the extra time to say Hi to Leelo, and waits for him to reply, or asks him for a High Five. And its been phenomenal to see Leelo progress so much during the past few months. He is greeting, observing, and occasionally even trying to interact with the other children in the class. These are huge steps for an autistic child, and ones he couldn't have made without his class's support.
So, a big thank you to Teacher P, Teacher K, and all the other 3Day families who have made it possible for our sweet, energetic, challenging boy to have such an excellent preschool experience.
Dripping with treacle? Maybe. Phrased in Iron Gate-speak? Certainly. But I am absolutely sincere.
Another example of why I love the school: Therapist F is leaving on Friday to get married and go on her honeymoon. She will miss seven consecutive classes at Iron Gate. Another parent in the class, Jude--who is a practicing speech therapist and who herself has a child on the autistic spectrum--said she would take over for Therapist F during those sessions. And then Teacher P said that Jude could count those hours as school maintenance hours, since in Teacher P's mind this was a service to the school.
I don't know how much it would normally cost us for Jude's services but I suspect it is pricey. I also don't know of many other schools that would allow/arrange for such things. Scoff at the school's required drudgery if you must, but know that I am quite happy to be a member of this particular cult.