My ever spinning brain has been working over time in this sudden heat wave we have been experiencing here in Seattle. I must say I really have out done myself too.
It would seem that across America there are more choices when it comes to schools for a special needs child then there are in Seattle. Basically for those of us with an undiagnosed special needs kid our options for school are the public schools. Yes, I do believe there are more options for children who are blind or deaf and the options sky rocket if your kid has Autism.
My daughter doesn't suffer from autism, nor any one diagnosis that you can throw at her. She's delayed, doesn't walk or talk and can choke on her food. My hands are tied thanks to the schools being very limited and what the state will actually provide for her. Let me tell, what the state does provide is incredibly minimal thanks to her not being diagnosed with anything a doctor can put a pretty label on.
Right before school let out for the summer all us moms whose children are in the same program got together. We spent three hours swapping stories over wine. We've since gathered the kids together at a wonderful play garden (www.seattlechildrensplaygarden.org), where more talking occurred. Thanks to those ladies and what we talked about my brain started going.
There needs to be a school in Seattle devoted to these amazing kids. I have been eyeing a lot just south of the Trader Joe's here in Ballard that has been sitting empty for at least the last 12 years. The lot is huge and when I told my husband at first he thought I was crazy. Then I started to describe why that lot would work and what we would need and his looked turned to into awe.
Imagine this if you will;
We would have handicap accessible parking (of course!)
The building I am guessing would be maybe two stories. Instead of stairs there would be internal ramps and elevators going to the upper floors. On the ground level or basement level we would have a heated salt or fresh water pool for adaptive swim lessons. (many kids are highly sensitive to chlorine)
There would be classrooms, art and music rooms. We'd have gyms for physical and occupational therapy. There would be speech therapy rooms and nurses quarters. We need observation rooms in between the classrooms too. Maybe a room devoted to eating, as there are many kids who have troubles surrounding food intake. Better equipped changing areas and bathrooms. A meeting room, staff lounge and a kitchen.
On the top level of the building we would have an outdoor area. Having on the upper level would keep the kids safe from outside people who probably want to share the space with us. It would also give us a chance for a roof top garden area and handicap accessible playground.
I am envisioning a buddy program so that we could have typical kids come in befriend, socialize, engage our special needs kids. This program would really benefit both sets of kids and help remove some stigmas surrounding handicap kids.
Now all I need is money. I am sure there are foundations, famous people, private organizations that could probably help out in this area. I'm not sure how well they actually raise money but selling stepping stones or tiles is always a good thing too.
I am looking to fill a much needed void here. Who's with me in taking the plunge and helping out these very deserving children?