Life's important decisions
With good intentions
Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! It seems we all have to make decisions in our life, some are trivial and some are major. In many cases when we are young most of our decisions are made for us by our parents or someone very close to us. Today I had to make a very emotional decision with my wife on behalf of our 12 year old autistic son that affects his future and the school he will attend next year. It is sometimes very difficult to make a decision and we hope when we do make one that we are making the right one. I know from experience that some of my decisions are based on emotion and I usually go with what my heart tells me. We are human and sometimes can't help but be guided by our emotions.
We as parents want to always do what we feel is right for our child and I have seen my son have his share of struggles. I live my life to serve him and always look out for his best interest. I may not always know what the right decision is but we have to take proper action and time usually is a good judge. When I was present at the school district meeting today I did not realize I had to make a decision on the spot. I usually need time to think about it and make an informed one based upon the choices available. Today I had to choose between two schools. The one our son is currently attending in Suffolk county, which he just started in April of this year which is more suited to teaching life skills and a school that comes highly recommended which is in Nassau county that provides a more academic oriented curriculum.
We had my son's current school officials on the phone for this meeting for logistic reasons as we were at a different location in the Levittown school district. I do wish for my son to get an education that stresses academics but I was apprehensive in changing his school again for the next school year since he just started at this school and was making progress. I was also impressed with the goals the school has set for our son and that they seemed very involved in helping him learn and in teaching him.
I remember when our son was suspended from the school he was attending in Levittown and was home for nearly 5 months with no socialization and how difficult it was for him and for us. We felt betrayed by the school district that they had to suspend him and it really broke my heart. They arranged for home instruction but it was not the same as a regular school day as it was for only 2 hours a day and some teachers had to work around their busy schedules to fit our son in. We knew it would be temporary but we did not anticipate it to drag on for such a long time. Autism is very complex and it affects a child in ways where they seem to have a disconnect and they are not able to exhibit proper behaviors. Our son has battled with his behaviors and has paid the price with school suspensions. He is a great kid who is very caring and empathetic but he sometimes does get emotional and will have meltdowns that are not easy to deal with.
We had to rely on our son's school district to help place him in a suitable school program based on his needs. It was a very tense time as we had interviewed with several schools and were turned down. It seemed time was passing by with no prospective schools in sight and our son's isolation was becoming a great concern. We then had a breakthrough. We had a joint school interview where representatives from 2 schools were to interview our son's former school representatives, my wife and I and eventually our son. We were nervous because we had been now looking at close to 4 months that our son was out of a formal school environment and as each week passed it became more emotionally stressful. As the interviews were conducted it was apparent that one school representative had already made up his mind that our son would not benefit in the highly challenging environment that there school was known for. We appreciated his honesty but were disappointed.
The other school where the interview took place seemed like a nice setting for our son. We received a tour of the school and our son seemed to like it. The jury was still out as to what their decision would be. Upon completing the tour the school principal came in to introduce herself and she spoke about the school and the decision process and promised us we would know in 2 weeks their decision. She did mention that the school is not an academic oriented school so we were a bit concerned but we also learned that the school has a fine reputation and has done wonderful things for children on the spectrum and other handicapped children in building their self esteem and helping them with their behaviors.
My wife then interviewed at another school in Nassau county for our son, which was prided on its academics but was told that there was a waiting list and they could not accommodate our son right now. As promised the school that we had visited with our son had accepted him into their current year program and we were delighted that he now had a school to go to and would no longer be isolated at home.
Since attending this school our son has made some noticeable improvements and is showing maturity. Therefore by seeing this my decision today was one I could live with. I felt this school stepped up when no other school would and why would I want to undo what they have started in getting our son back on track. They did wonders in just 2 months of time so I felt justified in having my son enroll there for the new school year in September rather than take him out and start him in a new school with a fine academic program that he may not be ready for. This threw the chair person for a loop so she had to see if Nassau county would allow him to continue in the Suffolk county school. Once she knew we were clear on what we should do for our son she was able to get the approval and I felt that we made the right decision with the chance to revisit the situation next year. I felt we owed both our son and the current school he is attending the benefit of another year to evaluate the progress made on both fronts. I felt relieved and felt good about my decision.
I want my son to succeed and to be happy and find his way and by bouncing him around too much I did not think this was the way to go. Hopefully next year will take care of itself. I have not delayed my decision, I just felt we need more time at this school to evaluate. I want what is best for my son and time will tell. I also need my son's feedback and what he is telling me right now is that he likes his school and he is doing better. That is all I can hope for right now. Sure I want my son to go on to college and achieve great success and we will hold out hope for that. Now we want our son to learn to mature, behave, show respect for his teachers and his fellow classmates and to see him start to feel good about himself and we feel he will at this school.
Life can be filled with choices we may not always be prepared for but we must learn to address them with serious thought, proper strategy and with our best intentions. This was how I approached this major decision for our son today. I love my son and will always work to help him and guide him as best I can.
Edward D. Iannielli III
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