Went to visit Jacob's new school today. It was excellent. The school is old and charming, and every area of it is set up for special needs kids. There are 37 students total as of now, with 37 aids and 7 teachers. Everyone who works there, form principal to teachers down to janitors, have MANT training- skills for keeping a child safe during aggressive behaviors. I saw this in action as a kid was running down the hall and, in addition to the staff following him, the principal stepped in to stop him as he got close to the stairway.
The school has kids age 9 to 21. The morning are focused on educational goals, afternoons more on living skills. At about 13 they begin teaching them work skills- shredding, wrapping, labeling, kitchen basics, etc so that they can possibly go to work when its appropriate for them to. They also have two outings a week- one fun (swimming, bowling) and one that is also fun but more for learning to be in the community (eating out, shopping, library).
1/3 of the kids live there, 1/3 live in community group homes, and 1/3 live with parents. Its great that there is the option of having them live there, since they would be so familiar with the area, the staff, etc. If this was ever something we needed to consider with Jacob, it would be great to have him already settled in the school and with people he knows.
Its got beautiful grounds with several old brick university-looking buildings. I'm sure it is gorgeous most seasons of the year. Its a 45 min drive from my house, but school doesn't start till 8:45 so it won't be hard to get him up and there.
I saw the kids working in what would be Jacob's classroom. They were all one-on-one, doing IEP goals. They had iPads for student use, PECS, and everything a kid might need to communicate. There were 6 kids in the classroom, and 7 adults. It was great. The teacher seemed very sweet.
I'm sure I will remember more to add later, but it was a good visit and I am anxious to get him started. It will most likely be after Christmas break.