Monday, January 13, 2014

The LD/ADHD Journey is More than Emotionally Challenging: The Price of Help

We are at almost two years on our LD/ADHD journey and it continues to have its ups and downs and it probably always will. She has worked hard and so have the various people that work with her. Her 3rd grade teacher whom she adores helped her with Math weekly over the summer and she has gone to her twice weekly since school started. She actually does most of the math homework with her. She’s had a reading specialist she has seen weekly for 18 months too. But middle school is looming.

Though her accommodations have been minimal she has to work very hard and I really wish we were armed with more strategies. I’m at the point in the year where I begin again to look at summer programs and evaluate her progress. It’s a tough time of year. Why?

For heaven’s sake, these things are outrageous. One camp is $2500 for 3 weeks of a half-day camp. It costs $5,000 for 6 weeks-still a half day camp. Now when I went through my school search after the diagnosis I found some schools that provide specialized instruction and found them to be out of my reach financially and that is putting it mildly. There were three I looked at here and the cheapest was $18K per year.

I continue to evaluate the choice of school all of the time. At first I concluded I couldn’t do public school for a few reasons, the main one being she’d end up spending significant time in therapy just getting the tools to deal with the change. So she stayed at her same school, a small private school she’s always been in, and she continues to feel she will go out of her skull if I make a change, even if just for a year or two so we can learn from more experienced educators. I blame myself really for not having her experience more of a variety of things before now. Of course I’d always planned for her to continue there, and I still plan for her to graduate from there, but I didn’t plan on ADHD and Dyslexia. She doesn’t qualify for any free assistance being a parent-placed student and with paying for her additional help, I shell out over $800/month for her education. Then pay another $600/month for daycare. That daycare bill is cheap in comparison to most, but I get a “multi-child” discount because the daycare and school are under the same system. But after doing that through the school year, it is difficult to find money for a special summer program.

It is little wonder so many people parenting children with learning differences homeschool if they can. I read a blog of one lady who has four Dyslexic boys. It’s interesting because I imagine the summer program is like the one at my daughter’s school and mainly aimed at the parents already using the school. These people are paying (unless they are receiving help) a hefty amount already. But then maybe after spending the entire year in the school, they go to a regular summer camp.

It was just very discouraging looking at these numbers, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I researched the programs they use in the summer camps and during the school year and the cost of training and getting educators certified in these programs is anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per person. Then there is the cost of materials, periodic testing, the time put in to make each child's individual plan, etc. They have to push that cost off on the consumer. Still, $5,000 for a half day camp?!?!?!?

My eyes will likely again turn towards Chesterbrook Academy. They were the only ones who have a program embedded in a regular school. I toured the school last year and spoke to the teacher my daughter would have had. Honestly, if I could have afforded the tuition, I would have put my daughter in that school and my son in the preschool down the street from it. I was impressed enough to rearrange everything despite how far out of our way, the campus is located. It is half-day like the others, but a 3-week session at least last summer was about $750, which is paid up front in full at the time of registration. Then the child can spend the rest of each day in the school’s regular summer camp at a discounted price, which last year was $112/week. Oh, and I would have to provide lunch each day. I will have to wait to see what the 2014 price will be, but it did stay the same the last two years. I believe this is the last year I can send her.

This has certainly been an emotional and financial challenge and one of my main challenges is to keep this from defining her, from defining us. I don't want everything to revolve around this, but the way these programs charge you would think that is exactly what is supposed to happen to people.

Mommy is a bit tired.