As many of you are aware my son attends New Connections Academy in Palatine, it has turned his life and his educational experiences around. There is no other school like it in the area that I’m aware of that specializes in programs for kids who suffer from autism but are high-functioning or have Asperger’s Syndrome.
This is also a great example of where a privately run program has stepped in to fill a void not being filled by the public schools. It’s a well-run facility with an incredible staff making differences in the lives of these kids every day. I’m glad to see more kids will be able to benefit from this program instead of trying to be placed in a program not designed for their disability. Too many times HFA and AS kids are being placed in ED (formerly “BD”) classrooms where they fall under bad influences (think of a child with HFA or AS as a giant button waiting to be pushed by a child with emotional issues). Or they get put in an LOP or similar classroom with students with more profound learning disabilities where they get bored and cause problems.
As the demand for these programs increases they will continue to expand. So if you have a child who suffers from HFA or AS I encourage you to insist on a placement that fits your child’s disability. It is your child’s right under IDEA to be placed in a such a program — the fit that is right for your child not the fit that is right for the school district. There is no greater advocate for your child than you, it’s up to you to insist on the proper placement so I encourage you to go into your next IEP meeting prepared and with the facts on what’s right for your child. By simply going along with a placement that may not be right for your child you aren’t doing him any favors and you’re ensuring there isn’t enough demand for programs like New Connections Academy.