About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life is a Highway: Part I

This is the second installment in a series of posts on interventions. Last week, I explored a speech therapy exercise that Brad has tried. This week, I muse about something we haven't tried. This installment is divided into two parts.

* * *

"[I]t is remarkable that an intervention that is easily defined and implemented can have important lasting benefits at least to the end of middle school for all students."

To what is the quote referring? Floortime? Occupational therapy? Behaviorial therapy? Diet? A supplement?

Answer: None of the above.

The excerpt is referring to an intervention that is elegant in its simplicity: classroom size. Science Daily reports:
Small classes in early grades improve test scores in later grades for students of all achievement levels, but low achievers get an extra boost. That's the finding of a study on the long-term effects of class size in the November issue of the American Journal of Education.
The study followed 11,000 students and found that:
...small classes—13 to 17 students—are most effective when they are consistent from kindergarten through third grade. Students in consistently small early classes had substantially higher test scores in grades four through eight than students who had been in larger classes. Students at all achievement levels benefited, but low achievers showed stronger benefits in reading and science.
Which is interesting because at least one noted blogger has hypothesized that "sensory processing disorders are probably among the most common reasons children underachieve in school."

Which is also interesting because my school district is amidst a budget crisis and a school crowding problem. The town I live in is having an override vote in December to fund some needed school repairs. If it doesn't pass, the children from the sick building may be forced to fan out into the already crowded grammar schools.

While I can't control how my town spends its money, I can control how I spend mine. Which is to say, I can send Brad to private school, if he can get over the admissions hump and can function without an aid.

I may look back at this very idea as crazy talk, but for now, it's something I'm at the very least considering down the road. Not for preschool, but for K-5 or K-8, when classroom size makes a preciptious jump in the public school setting. Private school offers small classroom size and appreciation of individual learning styles, and some "typical" private schools offer special ed-type services, including services for language and social pragmatics.

That having been said, my husband and I are both public school graduates and believers in the public school system. For most.


babyyahyah said...

my aspergers son went to a private school for k and there were 30 kids in the class. he is now in a public with 19 kids. depends on the private school.

Laura said...

eek. Interesting. Thanks for the note, and point well taken!

K said...

This is sooo true - how can you pay attention when you are so distracted -
- this would be the dream placement for my son - class of 10 or 12

A little boy just 3 years old said...

...not only distracted, but not even SEEN. I was rarely picked to ATTEND to a question, etc.. in school. The classes were packed. I blended in quite well. Shy little thing. Pretty sure that won't do any of our kids any good. The best way to learn is to DO, so if you can sit back and blend in and let everyone else DO, I can see the deficit there.

Interesting post!

Patience said...

My dd was in a private school for JK. We did the rounds of six other private schools before finding one that looked like a good fit. However; the nice principal also had some personal issues and kind of started leaving the running of the school to the teachers who demanded we hire an aide for dd.
We left and entered the public system where she was shunted to a diagnostic senior kindergarten with 6 other kids with communication impairments so not great.
We pulled her out halfway through grade 2 as they were NOT teaching her anything and the special class was filling up during the day with kids around the school who the teachers needed a break from.
So I guess we've done all three options.
I think there are probably some good integrated schools out there who help kids with difficulties achieve higher goals but you really have to get lucky. Also you have to look at schools who do advertise as having special support programs and see exactly what their success rate is versus how much of it is accomodation and babysitting.
I hope whatever you decide; that it's a good fit.
I also liked your previous post comparing all three approaches in metaphor.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Classroom size is critical.

Our daughter's autistic support class has a maximum of 8 students. Rarely, if ever, are they all in the room at the same time. Usually there are 5 or 6 kids and at least 4 adults. She's mainstreamed for specials (art, recess, music) - the regular ed class has 26 kids.

My son's kindergarten also has 26 kids. Huge classes. Larger class sizes are certainly cost effective for the district, but you get what you pay for. It is hard for him, with no special needs, to attend. I'd love to see the cap lowered for the max allowed. We're considering private school for our typically developing kids and this factor weighs heavily.

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