Now Reading: A Rave Review of My Son’s Special Needs School

A Rave Review of My Son’s Special Needs School


It was on August 13, 2015 that I wrote a blog post called “My Son Didn’t Get Into the School We Wanted for September” 

And wifey and I were hurting.  We found a school that we felt was a great fit, but due to lots of bureaucratic red tape we couldn’t get him in,
At that time back in August 2015 I wrote:

“So we had to settle on his “safety school” which is a 30 mile, over a bridge, 30 minute drive away…

So for the first time EVER we’re going to have to put the king on the school bus each day.

And that is going to be a HUGE adjustment for all of us. And the king who likes to sleep late sometimes and sometimes has seizures in the mornings will have to get his butt up extra early to get on a school bus…

And don’t get me wrong, this safety school really is a great school too…  it’s just not as great as the other one and much further away and so much more of a life change and adjustment for all of us…”

Big bummer!!

Well he’s been in that “safety school” for way over a year now and we couldn’t be happier!  It is an excellent school for so many reasons…
But let’s take this step by step…
The bus ride…
Yes, the bus ride is quite long.  It takes us 30 minutes to drive there directly, but on the school bus with picking up two kids after my son it takes them an hour to drive there.
Because of his potential for seizures we fought to get the king his own nurse on the bus, and she is great.  She’s always texting wifey keeping her in the loop, giving her the “5 minute warning” each morning & afternoon so she knows exactly when the bus is coming.  She also sends little pics of him on the bus…
And all in all, the king loves the bus ride!  He just chills, watching videos on his iPad, having snacks, etc.  He gets frisky sometimes and hits or acts out, but it is pretty rare these days (knock on wood).  He also never had a seizure on the bus so far (knock on wood)…
The swimming pool…
As many of you know the king loves swimming.  Well this school has a heated indoor therapeutic swimming pool.  Every class in the school goes once per week.  However, when we mentioned to his teacher last year how much he loves the water and how we thought it would help calm him down for the school day she said “oh, i’ll write a report and we will make a case with your school district to get him in the pool 5 days a week”
Knowing how hard it is to get anything thru the red tape at my school district I expected we’d have a battle on our hands, but by the end of the first month of the school year last year we got a note home saying “send him to school in his bathing suit under his clothes each morning and he will go in the pool first thing.”
And so since last October we put the king on the bus in his bathing suit each day and he goes into his classroom to drop off his bags, and then spends the first 30-45 minutes of the school day in the pool!
What is better than that?!  Isn’t that freaking amazing?!


The teachers & staff
So far, two school years in, and all the teachers and staff we have interacted with are awesome!  The king had an amazing teacher last year, and her staff was so great.  They made that classroom such a loving & welcoming environment.   And we thought / hoped that he would be in that class again this year (and for several years to come).
We found out in late August that he was assigned to a different class with a different teacher and my instinct was to get upset and to fight it.  However, wifey said “let’s just wait and see how it goes.”
And I guess we have an autistic kid who is ok with change, because even though I was freaking out he is handling it like a champ!
I know schools rarely hear this, but sometimes they really know what they are doing!
The classroom that he is in this year can possibly be considered slightly lower functioning, and the classroom is a bit more simplistic / less cluttered, and I think the lessons are a bit more on his level, and I think they might be a little stricter with him.
And I think he is enjoying it a bit more.  The main reason I feel that way?  He is napping less at school.  He was napping upwards of 2 hours per day last year.  This year they are cutting his naps off at the 20-30 minute mark and he is ok with it.  And that is a good thing for many different reasons…

The other thing I love about this school?  They “get” my kid.  Both the teacher / staff last year and this year.

We went to the school open house last week as well and met with the teacher and staff.  And these people have only had my kid in their class for a month and a half.  And they already seem to get him.  They know when he can’t do something VS doesn’t want to do something.  They seem to talk to him appropriately, and push him when it’s necessary.   Basically, they get his personality, and I am so happy to see that.  That is HUGE!

So far this school year, he seems to be doing well, and is happy and not exhibiting too many problem behaviors (“PBs”).
However, that is how the king usually works.  He gives everyone a honeymoon period and then starts acting out in January.  However, another thing that we love about this school is that they seem to be able to handle everything that my son or any kid can throw their way.  At previous schools we would get calls on bad PB days or on multiple seizure days.  Here they have 3-4 nurses on site and are dealing with multiply disabled kids all day so a few seizures doesn’t freak them out.  And PBs?!  They can handle all sorts of PBs!  We never get a call from them saying “please come pick him up” 


The atmosphere of the school / the parent involvement / the administration
This might be the best thing about this school.  It is a fairly large school with kids with all special needs from ages 5-21.  And they have TONS of activities throughout the school year.  The reason that I thought about writing this post is that wifey and I attended /volunteered at their “Fall Fest” last Friday.
Fall Fest consisted of the staff & PTA setting up Fall / Halloween related activities & prizes in the cafeteria.  Throughout the school day classes entered and walked through the activities.  This was maybe the 5th or 6th activity that I have attended.  Halloween parties, Thanksgiving parade, Christmas show.  Lots of parents attending.  And the thing that sticks out the most at all these events?  The joy.  Both from the kids and the teachers and staff.  Everybody just always seems so happy to be there.  From the principal down to the custodians, just smiles all around.
You have no idea how important that is for a parent to see.  After being at so many schools during his 13 years on earth it is so nice to be at a school that welcomes family involvement, that celebrates all holidays, and that is so joyful.
That’s about all I want to say.
Just a short blog post raving about my son’s special needs school.  So many people only write when they have bad things to say so i really wanted to write a post about how great his school is…
I’ll leave you with this one image that encapsulates everything…
When my son came through the fall fest with his class he was accompanied by his 1:1 aide and his Occupational Therapist.  The fall fest time must have come during his OT session time.  So she accompanied him, and a few of the activities had an OT slant to them so she was helping him.  It was great to see.  And he had a real nice time.
However, as he was leaving he was having a bit of a difficult time transitioning and his OT was massaging his back.  It was just so nice to see that interaction!

We are so happy that the king has the potential to be at this school until he is 21 years old.



Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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11 People Replies to “A Rave Review of My Son’s Special Needs School”

  1. Which school the king is going to? he's so lucky to have pool every day. My son also loves water also but not luck where I'm living.

  2. Anonymous

    New York City Metro area has the best autism schools in the country. 🙂

  3. what a nice story! So great to hear. I just came across your site after searching the internet for over an hour ( I wound up on your recent post about going to the dr & dentist with kids) And I am in a little bit of a different boat- I have an 8 yr old who has never been diagnosed but he's "asperger-ish." Today was the first time I really really had a hard time. we went for his annual flu shot- and this was the first time I wasn't strong enough to do the 'restraining hug' and he also knows what its all about and had a needle freakout. A true meltdown, one that I hadn't seen him have in over 2 years. It all made me very sad and upset for him because he knew he should have gotten the shot. After a long period of freaking out multiple nurses coming in, etc we left with an appointment for this Saturday when my husband can come too. I'm broken hearted for him because he told me "I'm sorry I couldn't control my panic over the shot. I know it has medicine I need and I'm sorry I embarrassed you" (omg- my heart broke, I wasn't embarrassed but just sad for him and frustrated) Poor kid knew and wants to do the right thing but just can't sometimes. Anyway, any tips out there for kids in a similar situation? High functioning but true anxiety. Any video modeling, etc I should look at? So far I haven't found much. thanks! And LOVE this blog- I'm hooked!

    1. follow up- just spoke with my son's pediatricans office and a nurse recommended a "shot blocker" which I found at the local CVS. We'll give it a try. I appologize for blocking up your comment section with this topic. You have a great site and its very well done. I just wanted some advice on how to help my son with his panic over getting a shot. As I spoke with the nurse at the pediatricians office- panic attcks, meltdowns over getting a shot goes across the board- they have seen it in kids of all ages, boys and girls, NT, Aspies, HighFunctioning, LowFunctioning, even some adults!

    2. Because I have a dear friend who got the flu last year and wound up with sepsis and lost both her legs and all the fingers on one hand. She never got a flu shot before and was otherwise a healthy 40 year old who never had a medical condition before. When you hear that and it happens to someone you know- it scares you into never skipping a flu shot again

    3. Flu vaccines carry live bacteria. Why do parents think it is a good idea to upset a delicate digestive system of their sensitive children with extra toxic substances?

  4. As a Special Education teacher, it is so nice to hear the positives!! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Joyce

    Sounds like a wonderful school and great fit for your family. I'd love to know which one you are writing about. We are going to start looking for out of district placement for our son in a few months. Wish us luck!

  6. Thanks for taking the time to write this. All to often we hear from unhappy parents. Kudos to that staff for caring so much about kids. I hope he continues to do well.

  7. So glad that everything is working out for the KING and You/Wifey!

  8. Yes!!! So happy for him and your family!
    I have triplets with autism—the girls are mainstreamed in gen Ed, and their brother was in a special ed room in the district. We were able to place him in the developmental school for our county, in a slightly lower functioning classroom. All of the fears you spoke of, I had as well (longer bus ride, farther away) but so far this school has been amazing for him. ESOECIALLY in that they get him. They GET him–like it's no big thing. And the POOL as well, for my son that's HUGE!! ❤️—SJ