Transitions Difficult for Special Needs Students
Tim Wallace and his mom often spend time after school playing with toys. He's not concerned about starting middle school next fall, but she is.
"I worry about him being a little more on the vulnerable side, you know, with his slow cognition and his disability in general," explained Trish Wallace. "You know, sometimes, upper-grade-level kids can be a little more on the cruel side."
Wallace may have good reason to worry.
"Special-ed kids seem to need more time to make the adjustments and need more supports in place," said Cheri Roth, Lange Middle School special education teacher. "Also, this is just a real big place for them and different types of schedules, and so they need a lot of support."
In fifth grade, special needs students work with case managers to make sure they're in the right programs at their new schools.
Roth said the plan seems to work, although it's not easy.
"Transition is just an ugly beast that we have to work through," she added. "And, I think, if you have these procedures in place, then it's going to help the kids a lot."
Even Trish Wallace is getting used to the idea.
"He's given us signs that it's okay to move on, that he's ready," she admitted. "He's done his time in elementary school and now its time to move on."
Teachers have been preparing students since last fall for the move.
Students with special needs can visit their middle schools and meet their teachers in May, so they will know them in the fall when classes start.