Seems everyone in North America is sending their kids off to school today. Pictures of smiling kids dressed in new school clothes, sporting back packs, posted across Facebook. Cute and happy, shared by proud parents.
Sebastian’s first day of school is next Monday. He will be returning to his awesome preschool. The other kids from his class last year are headed to their neighborhood schools or even ‘special’ schools. I decided to keep Sebastian in preschool an extra year. In Canada kids start school in junior kindergarten (JK) at age 4. I wanted Seb to have the year to bond with his sister. It’s possible I wasn’t ready to send him off to a new school for a full day, but it was most important for me to have him spend his afternoons with his sister as well as keep his current therapy regime. And, of course, I love his preschool and wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet!
I’m currently reading two books. The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears (for Tallula) and Exceptional Children – Ordinary Schools (for Sebastian). Sebastian doesn’t get to just roll up in his Red Racer with a new back pack hanging off of it to the neighborhood school when he is ready for kindergarten. Our neighborhood school isn’t accessible and I’ve heard the principal isn’t too welcoming with kids with disabilities. Hopefully next year we will get into the school connected to his preschool which has integrated therapy programs. But they have fifty applicants for ten spaces. Otherwise we will attend meetings with people that don’t know our son and they will tell us where to take him. I want him to be integrated into a regular school setting. But finding that school is the real challenge.
Right now a a little boy and his mom are fighting the Toronto District School Board for his right to attend a local public school. He currently attends a school for kids with physical disabilities. He attended a local school one day a week last year and it went so well, his mom wanted him integrated full time. When the TDSB found out, they said no. They also recommended he attend another public school where the special education classroom was in the basement. Really? The TDSB charter states that all children deserve free and equal access to a public education. Does that not apply to kids with physical disabilities?
Sebastian is excited to go back to school next week. This week we will go shopping for a back pack. I’ll modify it to attach to his wheelchair, which was adjusted today to fit him better after his big growth spurt this summer. I want him to be excited about going to school next year too. I have a lot of work to do in the meantime to make sure we find the best school for him. But today I’m thinking about World CP Day and all of the kids that have to fight to be included and receive the education they deserve alongside their peers. Their peers. Your adorable kids, headed to their first day of school too.