We are watching miracles unfold.

August, 2014

Today our son starts school at an out-of-district, day treatment school. Our school district is paying for this private placement.

I cannot tell you how many people told me this would not happen.

I was told me this would not happen now.

I was told this would not happen yet.

I was told this would not happen this way.

God had other plans.

I Knew It Wouldn’t Work

I believed this would happen.

Our son ended the last school year in a regular classroom. He had not been in a smaller, modified classroom. The plan was for him to attend our public middle school.

I’ve known for quite some time this was not going to work for my child.

We attended a middle school transition meeting. The staff assured me it would work.

I knew it would be a disaster.

Even our other teens said – all 3 of them, who attend or attended this school — individually, at different times, “Mom, do not let him go to school at there. He’ll hit someone. He’ll get into fights. He’ll go into a rage when someone bumps into him in the hallway. He won’t last a day.”

And I would say, “I know. You are right. We will figure out a different way.”

Finding a Different Way

I start making noise.

It isn’t working.

On one of the last days of the school year we receive some of the best advice we’ve ever received about advocating. It is from our younger son Zack’s special education teacher.

She says, “As a teacher, special education advocates make my job hard because they bug me to get stuff done. As a mom, I have one for my daughter. Get an advocate.”

I begin the search for a special education advocate.

I call ARC of Colorado but because our son isn’t developmentally delayed, he cannot get an advocate there. I call Peak to Peak Parenting, our Colorado parenting group. They send me a list of options, some free and some requiring payment. I make inquiries.

I know from the first phone call that Stephanie is the advocate for us.

This is going to be expensive.

We have to do it anyway.

I learn that our school district has its own day treatment school. Because its summer and not in session, we can not go visit, but I talk to parents who have had students who attended there. Their stories are not positive.

We get serious about advocating for a different option for our son.

Finding Options

Before this summer, I didn’t even know the option existed to request for the school district to pay for private school, but when the school cannot provide what the student needs as an appropriate education (never use the term “best” – I learned this), they will pay for it somewhere else.

Mike and I research, visit, and explore options for day treatment schools.Watching Miracles Unfold|The Holy Mess

I believe the best option for our son is a private treatment center downtown that runs a trauma-based care facility for children ages 5-12. The program is residential as well as a school with day treatment.

Mike and I visit. It is over 30 minutes away from our home, maybe close to an hour in busy traffic times. Our son would ride the bus, but we would go there for meetings at least once a week.

There are so many pros and cons in each of these decisions.

We are impressed with their services when we visit. Still, it’s hard to see the very tough behaviors in the kids. These are some of the most challenging kids from the metro city area, maybe the whole state or a couple states. Our son would be continually exposed to very difficult behaviors, and that in itself creates more trauma.

The therapeutic level is impressive. The program is based on Bruce Perry’s neurosequential model, including therapies such as animal therapy, massage therapy, music therapy, as well as lots of sensory-based work and time built into the day for transition.

We meet with an administrator at the school district. She is all business, although fair and kind. She seems powerful. I imagine she isn’t someone to cross. She wants information and facts.

It’s political. The appropriate words are said. I leave the meeting unsure of what might happen. We schedule an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting for one month later.

There are now 3 options on the table — the regular middle school, the district day treatment school, and private placement.

I know private placement is the only option.

We get to work with our advocate researching, obtaining records, and writing letters. Stephanie tells us the district will go back to their lawyers and find out about their options.

We are well within our rights to request legally for our son to receive private placement. However, that doesn’t mean the district will not drag their feet with our very expensive request.

This could go to mediation or be part of a long, drawn out IEP process.

We are prepared to request that the district send a teacher to our home for in-home instruction if the situation becomes unresolved.

I have prepared our son that he might not start school at the same time as his siblings. His anxiety level increases. We see more behaviors. He does not handle ambiguity well.

In God’s Time

The morning of the big IEP meeting, I receive a call from the director of a very small day treatment school connected with our local mental health center. I have visited there before, but our school district has told us this was not an option for our son because of funding sources.

Kate, the director, is chipper. She asks, “So, shall we get your son registered here?”

I am shocked.


Really? What just happened?

Just hours before the meeting, we learn that the district had already decided the previous week to grant our request for private placement for our son.

No one informed us.

Watching Miracles Unfold

There will be no big IEP meeting.

A meeting is not necessary. Everything is settled.

Our son will attend a day treatment school just 15 minutes from our house and the district will pay for it.

God has answered our prayers. There is no fight.

Stephanie is understandably upset about the way the school district handled the decision. They dropped the ball on including us as parents in the decision-making process.

Still, I count this as a huge, incredible victory.

Is this a perfect school or a perfect situation? No. No such thing exists.

Yet this is what we need and what our son needs.

We did it. God did it. We are watching miracles unfold.

Don’t tell me miracles can’t happen.

I simply won’t believe you.

Still Standing

Still Standing|The Holy Mess

Bible Verse

Hear my cry, O God,

    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

Psalm 61:1-3

Journal Prompt

What is a miracle you see God working in your life?


Watching Miracles Unfold|The Holy Mess

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