ESY, or Extended School Year, has been a mainstay of The Boy’s summer experience since he was six years old. I have written about some of his experiences in the past, and he always looked forward to it when we lived up north. Last year, he struggled with adapting to a summer day camp which did not include computers, and was not like school very much at all, although he ended up enjoying the experience and meeting some new (and long-lasting) friends.
Before we moved here, I asked some parents with whom I had connected in advance, through the autism society’s local chapter whether or not they knew anything about the local ESY program. They had no idea what I was talking about…
“Uh-oh”, I thought.
When we went through the IEP process this year, the assistant director for special education for the school district was involved (because I was trying to get The Boy into his current program, and being the warrior mom that I need to be to get things done from time to time), and she indicated then that ESY for this summer would be a long-shot. We would have to prove he needed it with data. “I’ve got six years of data backing me up,” I thought.
And this year’s IEP rolled around and his special ed teacher for language arts and math basically explained that even if he did qualify, which she clearly didn’t believe he did, it was very different from what we had experienced up north. Down here, it was basically one-on-one tutoring with an aide for a few hours a week.
“Oh crap,” I thought.
I immediately began to devise activities with which I could supplement his summer camp – was there a computer camp or cartooning lessons I could find somewhere (and could I even afford it)?
The Boy’s program teacher called about two weeks later to let me know that they had determined that The Boy would qualify for ESY this year, because he had had it for so many years, and that they would continue to collect data next school year to determine whether or not he would qualify for the following year.
“Yay… kind of,” I thought.
Now we need to determine where this “ESY” experience will occur, and how often and for how long. Luckily he will have his program teacher, which helps with the continuity. But it remains to be seen how effective this brand of summer enrichment will be toward maintaining the structure and routine that most kids on the spectrum need through the summer months.