When I think to things that once seemed impossible but became impossible was integrating into regular classes in grade 9.
I have been in social development programs all through elementary school. I had some integrated classes in elementary school (usually a once or few times per week thing) but I don’t recall any of them were wildly successful. The worst one was when I was supposed to be a mentor for a younger class. That didn’t go that well and I’m not sure why they thought it would.
For high school, I was in Pacific Storm Social Development at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary. When I was in grade 8, we had two integrated elective blocks – one was a rotation of fine arts (drawing, graphics, drama) and the other was a rotation of other things (Applied Skills…I just remember it had woodworking and home ec). It was not that easy for me but I eventually got the hang of it. Some courses were modified quite heavily for me to accommodate me (I’m looking at you, Drama).
I was 13 years old. I didn’t know it at the time but my social world was going to become more and more insular. By the time I was 13, I didn’t think I’ll ever go into regualar classes. I doubted I would go to university.
At last half of grade 9, I was nearly fully integrated. In grade 10, I had one block with Pacific Storm even though the program was grade 8-9 (though it said grades 8-10 for YEARS). In grade 11, I had one skills block that I seemed to use for napping….but wound up running back to a Pacific Storm staff member in times of “crisis”. In grade 12, I wound up going back to Pacific Storm to “peer tutor” (kids didn’t like me much, go figure) although I can’t say I did a very good job (I don’t know why people keep thinking I’ll be a good tutor!)…in reality, it was more like “catching up with folks”. I was offered a skills block in grade 12 but opted for spare. Although in grades 11-12 I was technically with the resource centre for support, I never strayed that far away from Pacific Storm (but they didn’t do a good job of kicking me out either 😛 ).
Long after I graduated (thankfully), Pacific Storm has since moved to Britannia. I am very glad that happened much after or I would have been so screwed with my “not part of the program, part of the program” status in grade 10-12.
As for the hoopla with special needs in regular classrooms? I don’t know. I think I would have enjoyed the academic challenge (except for math) if I was integrated earlier. But I also think that the social development programs kept me relatively safe from bullies and let me form friendships. I am not sure if I would have formed a friendship if I wasn’t in that setting. ALL of the friends I ever had (and may ever have at this rate lol) were peers from my social development classes. Actually, come to think if it, I might have very well have gotten kicked out of a regular classroom for such poor social interaction skills, especially when it got way worse around grade 2 or 3. I don’t know what happened. People have asked me that before. At any rate, it was like my world fell in.
When I was around 12-13 , I did not imagine that I go to regular classes or will attend university. That seemed nearly impossible. I knew nothing more other than social development programs.
But I did. I now have a BA in English. But I was reasonably good at academics and my accommodations allowed me to stay in my comfort zone for the most part.
Now, I am struggling to see myself getting a job and living independently. But this is harder.
This is so much harder. And it does seem impossible a lot of the time.
I can’t handle phones. Or introductions. Or interviews. Or anything else it seems.
I don’t have the independence or social skills that one expects from someone my age. Sometimes it seems like I don’t want to do it when I do but I’m just really overwhelmed.
I long for the days of school hallways…so structured, so comforting….