Because our kids' needs are so unique, almost no one year will easily flow into the next. Each child's needs change as they learn and grow and move forward. Some will need extra services in their classrooms as they've become more dependent on assistive technology, while others will be in desperate need of integration into some gen ed. classes, and still others will need a program that focuses on life-skills. There are so many different things our kids need each year, that we can't depend on the school districts' we live in, nor can we depend on this year's teachers to look into our own child's future and make an accurate call as to what they will likely need the most. Our children need to have those programs set up now. Most school districts will allow parents to go through the Administrative special needs staff to help them make appointments with potential schools that have the proper programs and classes that individual children need.
If you have a child with Autism, you may want to move him/her out of the "Special Education" (general) class, and into an Autism Specific program. Whether you do or you don't, you'll need to make sure the school your child is enrolled in, has what you need.
Just as important is that you ensure that you've done an observation of the class you are thinking of putting your child into, and try to meet with the teacher. Also meet with any and all general education teachers who may be involved as your child integrates into gen. ed. for particular subjects.
There are so many things to do to prepare your child and your child's IEP for next year's school program. The last thing you want to do is wait until the Spring to try to get yourself the appointments you need! Do it Now! Remember that you are entitled to go to your child's current school and request and Update or Change be made to you child's current I.E.P. If you are having any trouble getting the meetings you need with next year's teachers. Once you are in reveiw with your I.E.P. team, you can then let them know what you'd like to see for your child's program and even ask the members of the IEP team if they would prefer one school's program over another for your specific desires.
The 2 Most Important things to remember: Are 1. YOU are the parent! YOU are the most important member of the IEP Team and you can dictate where your child should be placed and specify the percentage of time you'd like him/her included in Gen. Ed. General Education provides your child with social learning that he/she won't get in special education- so fight for it! And 2. DON'T WAIT until the last minute. Once you begin to get closer to the end of spring and summer...make sure the main School District's computer Reflects the changes that have been made in the IEP. District computers will automatically re-enroll children into the next most obvious program, class or zoned school. Sometimes, the school they enroll your Autisic child in won't have an Autism or Special Education program suited to your child...it's a computer and doesn't "know" what your child needs...it's focus- where are specific Groups of children in specific Age Groups ZONED for. That's all that the District computer will do, unless YOU ensure that the appropriate changes are made.
And finally- in the rare case that you don't get everything finalized before summer vacation....take a DEEP breath and understand that when summer begins, Most teachers, fascilitators and other administration will be CLOSED and you won't be able to make any changes until the school year begins.
OUR family has had this happen - experience is the best way to learn right... And my decision was to meet with the right teachers, Principal and Fascilitator right away, but we DID NOT send our children to the "computerized zoned" school for the 1st week-only to move them. We simply skipped a few days, or the first week and utilized that time to make a finaly PUSH to get our children Moved to the appropriate schools that had the right care and programs they needed. The kids didn't miss much at all, and it didn't bother them to enter into school a week late. There will always be a tense 1st day back after summer vacation and that's about what they experienced. Other children quickly integrated with our children and on went the year. Without us having a meltdowns :) So don't let that happen to you! GOOD LUCK!