Looking back on Max’s IEP there is one thing I should have brought up when they mentioned mainstreaming. I should have mentioned the sort of inclusion that happens outside the classroom.
Classroom inclusion would be nice. Beyond Nice. Awesome. When Max’s class photo came it felt like a lie. I don’t know if he ever met any those kids. As far as I know he never walked through the door of his first grade classroom. I’d love to look at his second grade class photo and know there was some truth to it.
But I wish some real attempt would be made to include Max in school programs. I know not every program would be suitable for Max, but there has to be something.
For example, at the end of his first school year there was Kinder-Friend Day. It’s basically a kindergarten graduation program for kids from all the elementary schools in the entire school district. All the kids wear t-shirts representing their schools. There are songs and afterward games. Parents take pictures. A guy from the local newspaper was there. My niece Allison was there. Other children from Max’s school were there. Special needs students from other schools were there. Max was not there.
Max was back at his school spending the day in the resource room as usual. I didn’t learn about it until the day of, too late to do anything about it. I knew Allie was having Kinder-Friend Day, but I didn’t realize it was district wide.
Watching Allie graduate I kept thinking of ways he could have been there. He could have done it with his para. They could have used a stroller or a wagon on the field if they were afraid he wouldn’t do all that walking. I could have picked him up early and brought him myself so he could at least have been there watching. We could have figured out something rather than leaving him out entirely.
It felt like he wasn’t really a part of the school, like on some level he and I weren’t worth including. I do like Max’s school. The people seem genuinely nice and they work very hard with him. I’m sure they didn’t intend for me to feel like that, but it’s hard not to feel left out when you have in fact been left out.
And Max didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.