If I have learned one thing in my life it is to take each day one day at a time. I am sitting here in New Jersey, in a Homewood Suites hotel room after dropping off Maci (her 14th birthday today!) for her second day at the Celebrate the Children School. I’m still in disbelief we are actually here.
Maci and I arrived after a long plane flight from Seattle. I was very nervous how the whole experience would be for Maci. She had never traveled this far before and in the past plane flights had not always been great for her. Luckily, I do have some helpful strategies and tips I have learned to incorporate before the flight and during the trip. I’ll be sharing those with you on my website – stay tuned. I am so grateful for these strategies, they really helped make our trip go very smoothly.
We traveled to New Jersey for 2 weeks to have Maci attend the Celebrate the Children School. The school specializes in children and young adults with Autism. Their motto is “We teach to the individual not the label”. Our hope is that the work they will do over the next couple of weeks will help us know and understand Maci’s capabilities for development and educational learning.
This journey is particularly important to us because sadly, going in to this visit, we didn’t have any true understanding or accurate baseline for Maci’s ability to learn in an educational setting. Our local school district has been conducting assessments and evaluations over the last 10-11 years as part of her IEP. All of this is standard as part of the IEP process, federally mandated and carried out throughout each state. At the time, unaware of alternatives, we, like many families, followed along with the recommendations by the school district and complied with the process. We didn’t know any differently and the school district and administrators were simply following the given guidelines. Unfortunately, the whole notion of “Teaching to the individual and not the label” is completely missed in this process.
If you have a child on the autism spectrum, you are probably like me. I know there is much much more to Maci than what people see on the outside and how she does on her evaluations. However, I have often felt frustrated and trapped as those are the factors determining peoples’ perceptions of Maci and her educational abilities.
So, here we are in New Jersey, visiting the Celebrate the Children School. What makes this school so special we would travel from Seattle to New Jersey? Good question! Here are my main reasons:
- DIR Floortime is used as the methodology for teaching
- The Power of Play, experience learning, giving it meaning
- Understanding the whole person, taking in their disability
- Utilizing the individual strengths and building upon them
- Creating relationships to expand development capabilities
We are blessed to have this amazing opportunity to have Maci experience the magic of Celebrate the Children School. I continue to post on our time here so you can learn how we are doing. I hope our experience and my sharing it with you will help open eyes to new information for education, schools and learning methods especially DIR Floortime.