Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

The Best Special Needs School in the World

If I had a million dollars, there are a lot of things I would do. Maybe I would be overly generous with it, get more frequent massages, a magical facial to make me look younger and hot, and buy a house that I like more with a cooler, larger, more interesting yard.

But right now, if I found a million dollars in the laundry, I think that I’d build the best special needs school in the world. As many of you know, we’ve been really lucky with Tucker receiving the services he needs from our school district. Since he was three years old, he’s been in PAC (Preschool Autism Classroom) with incredible teachers who really love him. They use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) to mold his speech and behavior. In a nutshell, ABA is recognizing an antecedent to a particular behavior and then reacting. When a behavior is desired, like when a word is used properly, there is a reward. When the behavior is not desired, like when Tucker gets upset and lashes out rather than using his words, there’s a consequence.

It’s not really my intent to explain ABA therapy to you other than to say that it has worked wonders for Tucker. Just 15 months ago, his words for both water and helicopter were pronounced “ah.” Today, he says, “Can I hap wa-tow pwease?” and “hew-i-cop-tow.” He’s more interested in playing with other kids. He is controlling his anxiety and annoyance better and more often.

Now, (and I should say that there is a gigantic amount of BS that I am not going to go into here because I’m still processing it and at least one of his teachers reads this blog sometimes maybe) his teachers feel like Tucker may be ready to be moved to a non-categorical preschool classroom in which the kids may or may not have autism, do have learning delays, but, overall, have more age-appropriate social skills.

Currently, he’s spending his mornings in PAC and his afternoons in non-cat. The teachers want to discuss cutting out PAC in the mornings, as the two are different programs. On one hand, this is thrilling.

  1. It’ll be a good chance to figure out where he will best succeed in kindergarten next year.
  2. It will give him closer-to-typical social and language models.
  3. Each morning before school, he could do speech and OT therapy or go swimming for sensory input.
  4. It’s less restrictive and more like The Real World.

The totally anxiety-producing OMG my little boy needs as many hours as possible and he needs PAC because PAC is working, and he needs to get closer to speaking intelligibly and to knowing how to play part is:

  1. It would be 10.25 hours of less school each week.
  2. There’s no ABA.
  3. We don’t know if he’s been successful each afternoon in non-cat because of the support he’s getting in PAC.
  4. They are not correcting mispronounced words in the same way as they do in PAC (although I hope to change that if we drop PAC).
  5. There’s no way that I can reproduce 10.25 hours of school each week until September.

If you skimmed some of that to get here, what I’m saying is that the stress and worry over doing the Perfectly Right Thing for my sweet little boy makes me wish that there were a really awesome solution that would offer fully individualized and yet socially-based schooling combined with therapy and life skills for all kids (and not cost $37,000/year like a certain school near here does).

I’m sofuckingscared. 

Children’s language development happens rightnow, for kids who are Tucker’s age. Every single hour, day, week, month and second that goes by that he misses learning to say “small” rather than “moffs” or “music” rather than “mu-isk” is terrifying.

Losing those hours is terrifying. With all of me, I know that one day, my son will look around and realize that he doesn’t speak the same way that his peers do.

And that he will possibly feel badly about himself. That he might think that he’s dumb. That he will fall into a sad place and wonder what’s wrong with him.

More than anything else in the world, I do not want him to feel that way. Which means that it’s up to me, now, to fight for the verybest solution for him when it comes to a balance between school and private therapy. Even if that means spending $37,000/year.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do. I simply do not know what is better – continuing both PAC and non-cat preschool, which may not be an actual option, dropping PAC and being reallyreallyreally good at structuring his week to maximize one-on-one therapy and some sensory-rich activities, or spending a ton of money on a school that may not be better than what he would have if I didn’t spend the ton of money.

While I will use the rest of my days on this planet to help my son and the rest of the world get that he’s perfect just as he is rightnow while he is “moffs,” and later when he’s bigger, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about making the wrong choice.

I’d be lying if I said that I even completely understand whether this choice matters much in the long run.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want the most perfect school for Tucker right now, right here.

Maybe perfect enough exists. Maybe it’s a combination of me, therapy, a sitter, and non-cat. Maybe it’s not. Maybe, it’s something I haven’t even thought of yet.

Maybe I’m just a worried mom, and everything will be as good and as perfect, messy, crazy, lovely, fabulous, and messed up, amazing, heart-stopping wonderful and utterly terrifying as it all will be anyway, regardless of my choice. And please tell me that I am not alone in feeling inadequate in making these decisions that will affect the rest of my innocent little dude’s rest-of-all-eternityforever? 

Regardless, if I had a million dollars, I’d build the best special needs school in the world. There would be scholarships, a chance for typical kids to attend for peer modeling, one-on-one therapy, and a daily program just long enough to meet each child’s needs. 

bad teachers unwelcome copyOh, and the teachers would get paid more, too. Also, the bad ones like Mrs. Haney who had me in sixth grade and was mean and icky and obviously hated all children and everything else would be unwelcome. I could name the best special needs school in the world The Our Land School. I’d be queen, of course. But I’d be really nice about being queen, and not bossy or snooty at all.

The Our Land School

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is “If I had a million dollars, I…” Today’s sentence was brought to you by Lisa, of The Golden Spoons! Her extra cool prize is that tonight, she’s a co-host, too! Go show her some love!

Finish the Sentence Friday

Janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
Stephanie: Mommy, for Real
me: finding ninee

What about you? What would you do with a million dollars?

  • Janine Huldie - I love what you would do with your million dollars and have no doubt your school would be the best damn school for Tucker and all other children, as well! Seriously you made me smile tonight with your wishes for this lump sum of money 🙂January 9, 2014 – 10:04 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks Janine! It would be one excellent school for sure, but I think I’d need more than a million bucks to pull it off…January 9, 2014 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - You are not alone in feeling inadequate about making decisions that will affect Tucker’s life forever. I feel inadequate about making decisions all the time, and my kids don’t face the same challenges Tucker does. You are not alone, and you’re worried and you’re scared because this is all new territory. I wish I could help you, Kristi, and be able to see into the future and tell you what you should do. But I can’t, so I’ll just give you a virtual hug and buy a lottery ticket to get you that million bucks.January 9, 2014 – 10:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone in overthinking the decisions. It’s freaking hard and scary right??? If you win 100,000,000 make that school with me? And thanks for the virtual hug and also? Squeee. We get to hang out without the kids soon for lunch (OMG it’s my turn to suggest a date right?) and again at BlogU where we can drink and not drive!!! Whoot!January 9, 2014 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Oh I completely feel your torment over this…as you know, there is no perfect solution so it’s trying to make the best possible one that is so incredibly difficult. And the “Our Land” school? I love that. I’ve been watching the show “Parenthood” on Netflix and one of the characters on the show has Aspergers. They had to decide whether to keep their son in his special school or to mainstream him. Again, even a TV show accurately depicts that this is an agonizing decision for so many parents. If you ever want to talk about it, you know you can contact me – I mean it! I don’t have the answer, but I’m a good listener. 🙂January 9, 2014 – 10:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Actually, Emily, I’d love to talk to you one of these days. All of this early stuff feels so important and life altering and overwhelming that I ugh ugh ugh. Should I watch Parenthood again? I’m not even sure I saw it when it came out!!! And thank you so much!!!January 9, 2014 – 11:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Courtney - For yearsI have stressed and struggled if we were doing what was best for our son. I always wondered if we did MORE would he be better? I don’t know the answer, but what I do know is what was given to us, in the big picture, works. I wish he had more. i wish I could be more, BUT BUT BUT my son will be successful. He will make it in public school. He plays sports and has friends, which is great. When he was Tucker’s age, I wondered if those things would happen.

    What I’m trying to say is that the right things will happen for Tucker, if you don’t feel like it’s rough, then YOU will make more happen. You are a wonderful mom. Don’t doubt it.January 9, 2014 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Huge gratitude, Courtney. Huge. I’m so worried that I’ll choose wrong, or miss an opportunity, or not see the perfect solution staring me in the face. And then, I feel selfish that I know that even if I drive Tucker to stuff every day, that it’s not enough and not the same hours. I know that if I say we will go swimming three x each week, that when it’s cold, he may be on the iPad. I feel guilty that I need to work, and teach a 19-year old girl (who is awesome and loved but 19) how important this is…thanks so much for getting it and commenting.January 9, 2014 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

  • April - I’d be happy to give you some of my million to make your dream come true! I know the inadequacies of schools for children without development issues, I can’t imagine how the school operates for those that do. How much do you need? I have to fit it into my equation somehow. And you’d make a great queen… but wouldn’t the school need a principal too? LOLJanuary 9, 2014 – 10:39 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHA Um I don’t know how much I need but I’d be willing to make you the Queen Second, or the Princess or whatever if you funded it with your winnings!! And yes, do you want to be principal because it totally needs one!January 9, 2014 – 11:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - You would be an AWESOME queen! And I think you are a totally normal mom. We all worry about our kids and if we are doing enough for them… And it helps me to remember how resilient they are. And that a lot of research shows that while parents have a lot of influence on kids’s morals, religious beliefs, political beliefs, etc., we actually have very little influence over intelligence, temperament, etc. Sometimes that’s depressing, sometimes it’s very comforting.January 9, 2014 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow, you’re right. Sometimes, our influence, or lack there of is so depressing, but comforting too. So um…wait, we have not much to do with temperament? That part is huge relief. And also depressing as Tucker seems so anxious when things are not his way….sigh…I wish we had a magic wand like the stupid movies do!January 9, 2014 – 11:51 pmReplyCancel

  • donofalltrades - So this is a catholic school? The stain glass window threw me off? Lol. You’re a great mom and I’m sure you’ll figure out whatever the best thing is for Tucker.

    Cool is already aware that other kids in his class are bigger and faster than him. He’s 4 for God’s sake! It’ll all work out somehow, million dollars or not! Oh, and you said facial! Hahahaha!January 9, 2014 – 10:56 pmReplyCancel

    • donofalltrades - And you suck as the queen! What are you wearing there with your crown, a green tank top and some grey cargo pants? Where is the flowing robe or sequined pants suit at least. Something more fabulous and befitting a queen!! Hahaha, ok, I’ll show myself out now.January 9, 2014 – 11:52 pmReplyCancel

      • Kristi Campbell - OMG I’m so ashamed. I’m going to go change into more appropriate queen-wear. Thanks for pointing it out. Not. I’m totally not changing my ugly clothes dude. That’s why I’m the queen.January 10, 2014 – 8:28 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Um no, it’s not a Catholic school but Catholics would be welcome of course. The stained glass window is just for happy light. And wow to Cool already knowing that other kids are bigger. He’ll just need to outsmart them all. Luckily, he has you for a dad and supercapes are available.January 10, 2014 – 8:26 amReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - I love how you wrote a real post with this one. 🙂

    I predict that you will start an Our Land School some day. With or without a million dollars of your own. xoxoJanuary 9, 2014 – 10:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - And I would enroll my daughter. As for the rest of your post, I want to shout, “Hear, hear!” and “Amen!” You couldn’t have said it better. My heart seconds everything.January 9, 2014 – 11:19 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yay Sarah! Then our kids could go to school together! And thanks for the Amen and Hear, hear!January 10, 2014 – 8:47 amReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - I went through years of hell with Cassidy- one diagnosis and issue after another… listenning to various Doctors and therapists and more issues arose and on and on and on…

    I was a mess. A motherfu–ing mess. Constant anxiety. I remember a physical therapist being so hard on Cass that she was screaming and screaming…. and I said STOP!!! (She was a freaking baby) and this therapist said:

    “Don’t you want your child to be able to play on the playground with the other kids when she grows up?”

    Little did she know that her cruel statement still resonates with bitterness in my heart. Where there was already fear, she now introduced terror.

    Listen to your heart. Pray. Make a choice. Do it with all you got. And don’t look back.

    God made Tucker especially for you to raise. He trusts you. Now trust Him. And trust yourself. And most of all, trust that Tucker will grow to be every bit of who he is despite and because of your choices.

    Find peace in that- I never did, and it was a nightmare for years. And although our issues are different, the main theme is the same.

    Your kid? God’s got this. You got this. And most of all- amongst it all…

    Tucker’s got this. Raise and care for him as best you know how- with every part of who you are…

    That’s all the sweet boy needs.January 9, 2014 – 11:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Chris, how is it that I had no idea of the hell you went through with Cassidy?? Good for you for making the therapist STOP. That sounds awful and horrible and her comment is just freaking mean and unnecessary. I really appreciate your encouragement and support, so much. Your wisdom is awesome and thanks for saying that Tucker’s got this. That God’s got this. It helps. You’re such a great friend. Happy Friday!January 10, 2014 – 9:51 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Our Land School is beautiful.
    I hope you always would save some money to hire me as a professional photographer regularly.
    And this: “And please tell me that I am not alone in feeling inadequate in making these decisions that will affect the rest of my innocent little dude’s rest-of-all-eternityforever?”
    Yes! I just like to believe that our love and awesomeness are really making a huge difference too. And that you’re doing all of the wonderful things you can do for him.January 9, 2014 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thanks, Tamara. Our awesomeness makes a difference for sure and you are SO hired to be our official photographer.January 10, 2014 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

  • JenKehl - My Skewed View - Oh Kristi, I SO know how you feel. I worry so much about Isaiah’s self esteem. He has a tic right now that makes him rub his hands over his face, kind of like Curly from the Three Stooges. A kid in a homeschool group called him weird the other day, thank goodness he didn’t hear, but I did. And I wanted to smack her. I can’t imagine how worried you are, I think private therapy is awesome, thats what we do and I love it. Also the right sitter can be the most amazing thing. The best thing is making a decision and knowing you can change your mind. Tune into Tucker if things change so that if anything seems not right, like other children are not being nice, etc you will know right away.
    I know you’ll do great, I wish you could make the school. But you are an AMAZING mother who will do just what he needs, because you are actually participating and paying attention!
    Mwah! TTTx10!January 9, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Jen!!! TTTx10 x a billion.
      I’m so sorry that first, Isaiah is dealing with a tick and that some jerkoff called him weird, but I’m very glad that he didn’t hear it. OMG how in the world can we protect these amazing kids???? Thanks HUGE for the encouragement. Huge big thanks.January 10, 2014 – 11:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - I’m back…cause I just can’t shake it…your heart- I’ve so been there. Cass not only was sick from the moment she was born with medical issues, but she also had physical (Not crawling, legally blind, and severe hearing impairment, speech delay, sensory issues, screaming and crying constantly,pulled all her hair out etc.ETC) I get it. I get you. I know they are different issues, but I get it- mom to mom.

    I wrote this years ago- and it still is my truth. I hope you find some peace in believing all was meant to be- for you and for Tucker… 9, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I replied there. And I appreciate you so much, you. So much. Peace and hugs and lots of love your way.January 10, 2014 – 11:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - Wow! I can’t even imagine putting myself in your shoes to have to make a decision like that and wonder about it for years to come. You have to just remind yourself that you looked into everything the best you could and made what you believed to be the best choice for your family. Would sure be nice to be able to build that school thous.January 10, 2014 – 12:49 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I want to build the school! Maybe, you could come be our expert chef consultant!January 10, 2014 – 11:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Ilene - I think all moms feel the way you feel Kristi. So scared about making the wrong choice and the effects that choice could possibly have on our kids. I don’t think many choices are the wrong choices when we make them for the right reasons. And I hope you do get to start your school one day. And I know you will be an awesome queen.January 10, 2014 – 1:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, Ilene, thanks, you. I will be super nice about being the queen and you’re right. The decisions are so hard. Thanks for coming and thanks for reminding me that the choices are ok maybe even when they feel wrong for the right reasons or feel right for the wrong reasons, or whatever….January 11, 2014 – 1:53 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Resoundingly, (reading the other comments here) you are NOT alone in this worry. Not even a little.

    And you’ll do the right thing and make it work for Tucker, because even though you’re scared, you’re smart, you know him best, and you know what will support him well. I have every confidence in you.

    And in the meantime LOOK AT HIS PROGRESS 😀 Amazing. He’s DOING IT. With your help.

    And no matter what else, he will always, ALWAYS have you in his corner, supporting, encouraging, loving him. For. Ever.

    I’d help you build. You’d need more than $1million, but every penny would be worth it.January 10, 2014 – 2:04 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - You’ll help me build? FOR REAL??? That’s awesome and amazing and thank you huge! And yeah, I’d need more than $1m but it would be a good start right? I guess I’m not alone!January 11, 2014 – 1:54 amReplyCancel

  • Kathy at kissing the frog - I feel for you. I really do. Every child is so unique and individual that no one program fits them all. Just recently, my 9 year old was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, and his private school has no idea what to do with him. I wish I could pay someone who does. 🙁 Or put him in the Our Land School!January 10, 2014 – 5:53 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG Kathy, I’m sorry about the recent diagnosis for your son (and why it’s so late???). I wish I could pay too. It’s hard to know what to do.January 11, 2014 – 2:07 amReplyCancel

  • The Dose of Reality - Oh, girl. I so feel you. One of my best friends in the world has similar school issues for her child who suffers from multiple diagnoses. The best school for him is *gulp* $87,000 a YEAR. How is that a reality for 99.99% of the people in the world? It’s just SO frustrating and anxiety provoking. It makes me feel nuts. We need to do better for our children. We must.
    I love what you’d do with your windfall. It’s perfect. –Lisa
    PS. Oh, and you are NOT alone at feeling inadequate to make these important life decisions for our kids. For me, it usually turns out that the things I fretted over really DIDN’T have life-changing consequences, but the things I never thought would *actually do* and I never bothered to worry about them. Sheesh.January 10, 2014 – 9:10 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, Thank you for reassuring me that I’m not alone in worrying about making the wrong life-altering decision. Sometimes I think I give weight to things that don’t need them and don’t see some of the things that I should be thinking about. This being the number one person for our kids thing is hard!
      And $87,000/year? That’s just wrong. It makes it impossible for some people to even consider. Sigh. We MUST have better for our kids. They deserve it.January 11, 2014 – 12:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - Okay, so now I have to go and change my whole post because if I had a million dollars I would give it to you so you could start the Our Land School. I know you’re scared but have faith. You are a tremendous Mom to Tucker and you will find the exact right thing for him. I just know it!January 10, 2014 – 9:16 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Sandy, Aw! You’re so awesome! Thanks much. What you would do with $1m is pretty cool too. I mean paying off your mortgage and taking your daughter to EU and riding a horse everyday? I can totally get behind all of those.January 11, 2014 – 12:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri @ Undiagnosed but Okay - Sure…I go snarky and you go all altruistic. Fine be that way. Create the perfect school for Boo to go to with her soon to be groom as soon as he pays the dowry. I’ll be all flippant and crap…

    I adore you. I am so so sorry you are scared and that being a parent of a child with special needs sucks as much as it is awesome at times. I wish the I’m scared moments were dwarfed by the my kids is awesome moments. But they don’t. They just don’t it is sucks eggs that we always have to wonder and advocate for our children to get the education and support they need to be their awesome selves.

    HugsJanuary 10, 2014 – 10:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHA fine I will! Hey what’s up with the dowry? My kid is pretty awesome you know.
      I adore you too my friend. It really does suck that we have to wonder if they’re getting the best, that we have to ask for more, and that each school has such different educational settings and policies and BS. UGH. Hugs right back.January 11, 2014 – 1:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama - I love that you automatically thought of ways you could use your windfall to help not only your child but other children too. It shows what an amazing mother and person you are. And I think every parent is terrified of screwing up their children’s lives!January 10, 2014 – 10:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Nicole,
      Trust me that I’m not all that unselfish. I just want Tucker to have the perfect school! thanks much for coming by and for the nice comment!!!January 11, 2014 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Forever Five Blog - I am so with you on your fears, Kristi. My children are not labeled special needs, but the importance of their development at this young age as you described it is exactly how I feel. EXACTLY. I was unclear as to whether the school was giving you the choice to leave PAC or if they are mandating that you leave. IMHO, if you are being given the choice, what do you have to lose by leaving him in there until the end of the year? It sounds like he is gaining so much. My experiences with children (as a teacher and a mom) have almost always led me to the conclusion that doing things that make a kid feel confident and happy should never be cut off in the name of “independence” or “growing up.” Our kids will mature and they will become more independent from us no matter what we do (assuming we are not guilting them back home;). They will BEG us to be independent and let them do more grown up things one day. Tucker will do that one day. If PAC will help him launch more successfully later on, then hold on to it.January 10, 2014 – 10:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa, you’re right that having special needs or not really doesn’t take away the fear of doing something to hinder development early on when it matters so much. It’s a pretty big weight to carry – worrying about milestones and all of that.
      Regarding leaving him in PAC through the end of the year…there’s a kid in there who has behavior issues that Tucker has imitated and they’re not good ones to imitate. He’s more stressed out in PAC because he’s got anxiety and control issues and some of the kids in PAC don’t do what he wants them to do. So he gets more upset. I think the combination of PAC and non-cat is probably best but that’s not really an option. I mean it may be, but I’m not sure that I won’t have to fight like crazy for it. It might be wiser to save my energy and just get him private ABA and other stuff each morning. Sigh. I just don’t know really.
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful comment.January 11, 2014 – 1:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - The Our Land School would be awesome!!! When I taught special needs preschoolers, I watched parents agonize over these decisions and I hope that I was steering them in the right directions. I did not have parental perspective back then. Now, I do and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt the you will do the very best thing for tucker – even if you think you don’t know what that is. You are a wonderful mom and your love for him exudes through your words and your wishes. Go with your gut – it will be the right decision! ((HUGS))January 10, 2014 – 11:03 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I agree the Our Land school would be awesome. I’m sure you did an amazing job of steering parents in the right direction. Thanks so much for the hugs and for the reassurance that I’ll do the right thing even though I don’t know what that is!January 11, 2014 – 1:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Almond - I’d send my son to that school! This year has been so icky that I am considering open enrolling him next year to a larger school district that has more resources for a kid like him. This would be hard for me because I’d have to drive him to another town every day and I would have to work out something to get him home on the days I work. He’s getting some help, but the bare minimum because our state laws suck when you have certain disabilities.

    If you find a million dollars, sign me up! It sounds wonderful! And I love that you’d be queen. 🙂January 10, 2014 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Your son can have a scholarship, Sarah! I hate that one of your good options may be driving him to another town. Why can’t this stuff just be easier?? Seriously. It’s a huge flaw in our school systems that it’s so hard and that they can’t just get what they need. I hope you find a better solution than having to drive so far each day.January 11, 2014 – 1:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - You may not see what I see since you are the one that has to make the decisions – but I think you are empowered by knowing what is best for Tucker – like no other. And I think you will make the right decision. The right decision doesn’t always have to be the “best” one.

    I think it’s wonderful that you are Robert are where you are and you have choices.January 10, 2014 – 12:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thanks, Kenya. I need the reminder that the right decision doesn’t always need to be the best one, because I get so focused on wanting the very best one. It’s paralyzing at times.January 11, 2014 – 1:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - As a mom of a child on the spectrum, I completely relate to this post! I made the decision to homeschool my special needs child because his needs were not being appropriately handle by the public school system!

    I would totally send my son to “Our Land School”!January 10, 2014 – 12:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - That’s awesome that you homeschool Echo! How old is your child? I’d like to hear more (not that I think I’d be good at homeschooling because I’m not sure I would) but maybe I could do it in part.January 11, 2014 – 1:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Mama C. - This was — unequivocally — one of the best, most thoughtful things I have read in all of my 36 years on this earth. Thank you, Kristi.January 10, 2014 – 1:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hugs, Mama C. Hugs. I know you deal with the same issues with your son and hope everything is going really wonderfully with your new baby girl!! xoJanuary 11, 2014 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - I need to perhaps go through your blog to see Tucker’s story. Every time I come by and you mention what you all deal with on a day to day specifically concerning his autism, I often wonder if the doctors or you all think he was born like this or did something change and things were different from a certain point? I honestly can feel the pressure you must be feeling as I was reading your post. I truly agree with you about making the right decision. It does sound like it will matter in the long run, but you’re right, maybe it isn’t too bad. Like maybe you can try one for a little while and if it’s not working, take the more expensive route if you can afford to? But then I know it’s like how long do you wait to see if it’s working, etc. More and more questions. I pray you all will make the best decision for your family for sure! xoJanuary 10, 2014 – 2:21 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Brittnei, we did only meet recently I know. If I’m honest, I don’t really deal with that much every day because of his maybe-probably autism, it’s more that life is just different for us. Over all, he’s actually a pretty easy kid. He’s loving and engaged, and there are things that make him really happy. That’s not always the case, so we are really lucky.
      And when it comes to the doctors, they don’t know. Personally, I think that he was born with it but that we did not know anything was delayed until later on, when he wasn’t talking the way he should be.
      Thanks so much for your prayers and thoughts, I appreciate them, and your friendship. I’m honestly not sure what to do. We’ll see! But again thank you!!January 11, 2014 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - I feel mad that you have to make these hard decisions. You put so much love, research, commitment, and resources into being the best mom and advocate for Tucker, and it makes me mad when I hear about you (and other families of kids with special needs that I know) who also have to jump through hoops, beg, education, and make agonizing decisions for their families all the time. Sorry if that comment is completely unhelpful. You are such a great mom, and you know so much shit. Tucker could not be any luckier. Good luck, my friend. I wish I could say more, something that would illuminate everything for you. Cheers to the hypothetical OurLand school. xoJanuary 10, 2014 – 2:50 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Steph, I feel mad about it too. But you know what? Parents of typical kids have hard school decisions to make too so I know it’s not just special needs. But I also know that it’s wrong and fucked up that there aren’t more federally mandated GOOD standards because “least restrictive environment” is just dumb. I mean it makes sense in theory, but not always in practice. I know you know a ton of families who have kids with special needs and they are SO lucky to have you as their music therapist!! In fact, I should bring you out here to work with Tucker and his friends for a month! Ok not very practical, but I’d love to see him light up when you sing to him in person.January 11, 2014 – 10:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly - I so can feel your anxiety about that decision, Kristi, as you don’t know how it’ll turn out. Would it be possible to have a “trial” period of stopping PAC? Lily is in speech therapy due to her delay caused by moving to Germany when she was 2 and just starting to talk. Every once in a while they give her a break for a few months to see where she’s going on her own, and then they are better able to focus on her weeknesses. Try to listen to your stomach, and maybe get a second opinion. Have a great weekend, Kristi!January 10, 2014 – 4:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - There is a bit of a trial period, Stephanie, but the problem is that the slot will fill up (there’s a waiting list for PAC). I love how they give her a break for a few months to see how she’s doing – that’s really brilliant! Thanks so much! And I hope your weekend is amazing as well.January 11, 2014 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Surprise Mama - Love this and Tucker is so lucky to have you.January 10, 2014 – 6:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Eyes, fingers, and toes are crossed for you and the big win. Go buy a ticket. Now.January 10, 2014 – 7:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH Kelly!! I need to. Tomorrow. Can you keep them crossed that long???January 11, 2014 – 10:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Teliho - The Our Land school would be the best school EVAH!! Can I be a teacher there and make the big bucks? I’ve always thought I’d be a good teacher….except for that “showing up everyday” part. Cuz momma needs days off, you know?January 10, 2014 – 8:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hellz yeah, you can be a teacher there, Beth. I mean well. No, sorry. But you could be like our social media queen or something that you don’t have to show up daily for.January 11, 2014 – 10:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Oh, how I love you and your writing and how I relate to that feeling of panic you’re experiencing. One of the hardest things in life for me is making decisions (and I don’t think you’re like me that way) and I can only imagine the weight of responsibility over making the right one. Question though, if Tucker’s teacher are so awesome and they think that he’s ready to transition, do you think it might have such horrible set-backs? Maybe I’ve skipped something (reading as at home with my sick baby) and you do refer to this in the post, but perhaps it won’t be something as irrevocable as you imagine it to be if you discover that the regular school is not working as well as you were hoping.I hope don’t sound like a patronizing asshole, I might be completely out of line.KatiJanuary 10, 2014 – 8:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - VERKLEMPED. Thanks Katia, I love you and your writing too and I know you get the panic because you get the panic. Thank you my lovely friend. Decisions suck. You’re not out of line. There’s some bs that has happened that I didn’t post. XOXOXJanuary 11, 2014 – 10:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Sylvia - You are most definitely not alone my dear. I have been agonizing over and second guessing every decision I have ever made regarding Bethany’s education and health for 13 of her 15 years now. I hate to say it, but I don’t think that will ever stop no matter how perfect the program. It’s just the nature of the special needs game. But Hey, when you get that school built give me a holler cuz Beth will be coming!January 10, 2014 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m not sure whether to feel comfort or anxiety about the fact that agonizing over each decision never goes away. And hey, I am thinking more and more and more about trying to build the school for real. Beth will be welcome as a student, and, later, as an employee, doing whatever it is that she wants to do helping other kids like her. And helping adults realize what they all need…January 11, 2014 – 11:19 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] Menopausal Mother - You’re not alone in thinking and re-thinking the choices you make for Tucker. Being a parent is the hardest yet most rewarding job in the world. My kids are all grown now and I STILL rethink some of the decisions I have made, wondering if I should have done something differently. My youngest has always been the most difficult–I know I made quite a few mistakes there and sometimes wish I could go back and change things, even be more aware of his needs. I love the idea of building self esteem in your school—THAT would have made a huge difference in my son’s life. We tried to give him all those things at home but he wasn’t getting it at school and it was very damaging. I love what you did with this Finish The Sentence prompt, Kristi. Tucker is a very lucky boy to have a mother like you. XOJanuary 10, 2014 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, Marcia, I’m so sorry to hear that your son didn’t get the self esteem that he needed at school. I think one of the biggest problems is that kids get these things from their peers so much at a certain age. We can do what we do when they’re young, but at some point, they don’t believe their parent(s) and believe their peers. It’s heartbreaking.
      Thank you so much for your awesomely thoughtful and amazing comment.January 11, 2014 – 11:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - You are a wonderful mom and I hope that you know that.
    I don’t understand why the government/health care system makes these wonderful children and their parents shell out big bucks for education. Education is education. It shouldn’t matter what form that education may be. Do parents of (and I hate to use this word) “normal” kids have to pay for education? No. So I find it ludicrous.
    You’re doing what you can and then some. I wish that one day, you can send Tucker to a wonderful school that won’t charge you a foot and a nipple.
    Sigh…..January 11, 2014 – 9:14 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Only you can make me laugh while giving such a heartfelt and awesome comment. A foot and a nipple? But you’re right. It’s fucked up that people have to spend so much money finding an appropriate education. Way fucked up. Thanks, Kim.January 11, 2014 – 11:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Nina - Wow I don’t envy your position. It does seem scary when we’re at a crossroad at a pivotal time in our lives wondering which choice would lead to which outcome. Thing is, I’m almost certain that either one will work out okay, or that if you were to find that one didn’t work out, that there would be options to change that. I’ve always thought that things work out somehow, even supposed negative situations, which are often blessings in disguise.

    Good luck; let us know what you decide! I hope that you are able to trust your choice and realize that you did you best regardless 🙂January 11, 2014 – 10:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Nina, I’m almost certain either one will work out fine as well but it’s still well…terrifying. I know I can make changes if it doesn’t work, of course, and I’m sure it will but knowing that his language needs so much help right now, feels like weird pressure to choose correctly. Thanks so much and I’ll definitely let you know how it works out!January 11, 2014 – 11:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - You are always so honest in your writing and sharing and I know you want the best for Tucker. It is scary and I don’t know if there is a right answer. There may just be a right answer for you. There was a point when the school system told me that Lindsey would be better learning life skills. At first I didn’t believe them. I resisted. When they wanted to put her in more special education classes than mainstreamed, it broke my heart. I still didn’t believe she was “that bad.” But for us, as hard as it was to go along with the school’s recommendations, this track did work for Lindsey. You will make the best decision for all of you. And if I had a million dollars, I’d not be as honorable as you and build a school. I’d be flying first class every single time I flew from here on out. Your idea is so much better! And you being queen of the school–fantastic. You’d make an excellent queen. And I’d want to go to your school. 🙂January 12, 2014 – 12:40 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Linda, flying first class everywhere might be the smarter decision. I’m sure that even if I built my own school, that I’d deal with uncertainty and worry and overall just not knowing…but I’d be in total control so there’s that.
      Also, look at Lindsey now! I’d say you did the perfect thing for her. She’s married, she’s happy, she’s DOING IT. She’s got it.
      Also when your travels bring you here, you’re welcome to go to my school as much as it fits your schedule!January 12, 2014 – 10:51 amReplyCancel

  • Kacie Wielgus Buzzard - Wow, I am impressed with the level of services Tucker is receiving from the school district that is awesome! My three old daughter has autism and is nonverbal–we are fighting to get any ABA from the district. I wish you and Tucker the best of luck! January 12, 2014 – 3:07 amReplyCancel

  • Heather Mills Schwarzen - I get this, so totally and utterly. My Phineas is 7, and we used school services for several years and found them very effective. Then, without an explanation, services were slashed and my nonverbal, cognitively delayed little man was sitting in group sessions that he couldn’t understand and wouldn’t endure. We pulled him out at the end of that year, and began an intensive program at home. We’ve seen more progress than expected, but still … time is slipping by. It’s hard. ((Hugs))January 12, 2014 – 3:30 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Hall - An Our Land school! Oh Kristi!! If kids with ADHD could go there too, I would totally apply for a scholarship so my daughter could go there!January 12, 2014 – 5:06 amReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - Oh, freaking-A, you are not alone. I hate not knowing the best track to take. I hate all the what-ifs. I hate second guessing my decisions and feeling mommy guilt. I worry about whether we’ve selected the best surgeon for my kids and if we have sufficient speech therapy and is homeschooling my older two what is best for them? And I’m not the best advocate – I’m rather passive, so I feel like a lazy sack on top of all that. I’m commiserating with you on these big decisions, lady. I just keep praying that I’ll make the right ones. January 12, 2014 – 6:13 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - I already commented here but I am doing it again to test your new comment reply system. Please reply with something witty, so I can get your reply in my inbox. Thank you!January 12, 2014 – 12:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Dana, you are sexy and fabulous and overall amazing. I’m honored that you find the time to comment here just to see whether lameass me is able to install a plugin that will allow me to comment lamely back to your awesomeness. I am not worthy. In any way, ever. But I hope you’ll keep me anyway.

      DID IT WORK???? OMG did it work?January 12, 2014 – 9:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I think I want you to run all the schools in America! But, seriously, I know your decision is hard. There is no crystal ball to see into the future. But you do know Tucker NOW and can assess the situation from a great wealth of understanding of Tucker’s needs, strengths and struggles, as well as an undeniably deep love for your son. That counts for more than you know.January 13, 2014 – 9:33 pmReplyCancel

  • karen - what a beautiful, selfless, and amazing way to spend the money. Love it. I love the poster, yes…angry, mean, useless teachers need to get out…and I;m a teacher saying that.January 13, 2014 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen @ Real Life Parenting - You are NOT alone! On a completely different scale and with different parameters, I have had the same worry … am I making the right choice? Will this ruin him forever? How will I know if I did make the right decision?

    Oftentimes the answers to those questions don’t come for years … and that’s so hard because we want to know Right Now so we can change course if we think it’s needed. So, what I’ve come to learn is that I need to sit. And think. And talk–to my husband, my mom, my sister, my friends I can count on to be honest. To the doctor, the teacher, the parapro that I trust. And then I need to sit and think some more. And in the end, with all things on the table, I need to go with my gut. I need to quiet the nerves and quell the worrying … and just listen. Your answer will be there. XOXOJanuary 14, 2014 – 12:45 amReplyCancel

  • Diane - I HATE MAKING DECISIONS!! Especially when its a choice between good, better and best. I love hearing about you and your son. Whatever else he has in his life, he has you. Everything else is a bonus!January 14, 2014 – 12:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Debbie @ Heartbeats Soul Stains - I have 7 children and with each decision I have always wondered if I was doing the right thing. I think it goes with parenting we want the best for our babies 🙂January 16, 2014 – 3:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Jean - It’s a sign of good writing when the author conjures up strong thoughts or feelings or memories for their reader. What you wrote about Tucker going between the different programs reminded me of the fears we had when we went to full inclusion with RTI. Teachers and students and parents were so worried about what would happen. I’ll admit, the first year was a hard transition year, most of all for the students. You have every right to be concerned about it.January 19, 2014 – 8:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Mike - I didn’t skim a single sentence, my dear. This was absolutely fascinating to read about austism as it has been soooo mysterious to me aside from watching a hit movie many years ago. That is SO AMAZING on the progress he has made! All of the decisions and pros/cons facing you for Tucker and what is best for him. I’m so with you on “if I had the money…”. There are so many things in life we want immensely to help and change along with helping others. That will often be what is first, nearest and dearest to our hearts. I so wish $1M upon you so that you can build that school and have that funding!! I wish I had read this soooo much sooner as it gives me huge leap forward in further understanding this blogger I adore so much along with her family. My favorite part was you saying how is perfect right now, Kristi 🙂February 5, 2014 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thanks, Mike. You’re the awesomest of all. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket today so that I can build it. Although, I have a feeling $1m will not be enough. It’d sure be a good start though!! Thanks so much for reading. And yeah, autism is very misunderstood, still. The thing is, kids with autism are as different as kids without it. Some are highly verbal, some not. There are huge variances from kid to kid. We’re lucky that Tucker is socially motivated and very affectionate. I think it’d be harder on me if he weren’t.February 6, 2014 – 9:39 amReplyCancel

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