I want to open a Montessori School for children with autism and their families. Maybe not just for children with autism but children with all kinds of disabilities. My experiences with the school district have been frustrating. My experience with the local Montessori schools have been fruitless. No one wants to take my child. He is too hard to handle. Actually, he is too frightened, but that is not how they see. There are several new Montessori schools within about 15 miles from my home. None of them, once they met my terrified son would even try. Between the state regulations about children and diapers (he is no longer in diapers but still needs a lot of help using the restroom) and him running from the building they did not want to take a chance.
I read in one story somewhere that a parent had found a Montessori school that instead of saying, "Will your child fit our program?" said, "What can I do for your child?" I read about two schools that really impress me. The Toronto Montessori School for Autism, and another school somewhere in the Midwest that makes accommodations for handicapped children. Unfortunately they are nowhere near where I live. There are a lot of schools for Autism around here, but I cannot afford the $4,000 per month price tag. How do other people do it? My husband makes good money. We are not poor (which means we don't get government help) but I can't imagine being able to pay $4,000 per month for one child's schooling. I have six. The oldest in College. We have saved and sacrificed for years in order to send our children to college. Do I give up my older children's future for my younger children's now? Especially when they can go to public school for free? I want the school I set up to be free to the families that go there because I know how expensive all the therapies can be. You have to try everything until you find the one that works for your child. That means your constantly spending small fortunes just to find the one you think is best for your child. By that time, you have nothing left. I have seen the stories of people on TV going into huge debt to get what their children need. I do not want to go into that kind of debt and I do not want others to have to do that either.
How do I set up a free school with no money, incurring no debt, and not having a tuition? It sound crazy and impossible. I have been scratching my head for years. I have thought about a charter school. I have looked into the legal stuff a little. The suggestions on the web say to start a board for the school. I have asked around about that. People say there is a need, but I haven't found anyone to help yet. I also wonder how No Child Left Behind would affect a school with children who may never reach the stages their age mates have. I wonder how the teenage Rhett's syndrome girl who will never have a cognitive skill over the age of about 2 falls into the No Child Left Behind laws. I wonder how the 6th grade boy I know with a genetic disorder who will not grow beyond about 2 will take the standardized test. I have asked my local elementary special ed people about this. They just shake their heads and shrug their shoulders. No Child Left Behind seems impractical. What is even worse is the law of "adequate education" for special education. What is "adequate education" for a child I know is gifted compared to my other children, but is in special education because of his social skills and refusal to perform the tasks set before him 9 out of 10 days. Can a child be in GT and Special Ed? What do I do with this child of mine who taught himself to read and can add and subtract in first grade, but cannot tell a story in any way shape or form or write a sentence or stay on topic in a conversation? Does he not need an individualized curriculum? Is not this the plight of almost every child? We hold them back in the areas they excel and push, sometimes way to hard, in areas they are weak. Would it not be better to let each child shine where they can and help them along in the other area? It drives me crazy watching my children loose their love of learning as they grow older. It has been horrible watching my oldest who shined in one school, when we moved peter out because he was expected to take a test on his new states geography the week started school. He kept asking me where this was or that. I had no idea. Things went downhill from that. It took him nearly 3 years to recover. It is frustrating to watch my second who would read to the other children in his kindergarten class now use cliff notes to pass a test instead of reading a book. What are we doing to our children?
You should homeschool, I have been told. I suffer from depression. I am not consistent enough to homeschool. I need a co-op for support on the days I struggle to get out of bed but I have been unable to find what I want. Maybe it is out there somewhere, closer then I think. I just don't know where to look or advertise or what ever. I have studied homeschooling thoroughly. I have made plans but when it comes right down to it, I need my husbands support and he sees no reason to homeschool when we have free public schools that we pay taxes for. Our school district is great. They have a good, rigorous curriculum. It really wasn't until ds5 that I started getting frustrated. Repeating myself over and over each year is getting frustrating. Teachers trying the same old thing that didn't work last year is frustrating. People thinking they know better then me or the previous teacher because they are the specialist is frustrating. I don't mind trying something different by why keep trying the same thing that was counterproductive for the last 3 years is beginning to irritate me and he is only in first grade!
I admire all of you who have put up with this special education mess for last who knows how many years. There are so many who have paved the way for those of us just starting out. I know I am frustrated, but I am truly glad that I didn't have to do this with my first child. I would have been trampled underfoot.