ESY stands for Extended School Year, which you can think of as “summer school.”
For our kids, especially my OT-needy son, it’s not the summer school that I remember when I was young. The ESY that my son attends is OT-focused and not for academics. (Our school district does offer a summer program for academically-challenged students.)
It’s a program that helps special needs kids bridge from one school year to another.
Why does my son get ESY?
The idea behind an ESY program for kids who have trouble transitioning is to create a shorter summer.
For some kids, ten weeks is a long break. They regress easily and/or miss the schedule/regulation that school often provides.
They simply do better going back to regular school if their breaks are shorter. They take less time to get back into the flow of regular school.
My son has attended an ESY program for several years, and his program has always focused on OT. My son does not need the academic assistance, but he does need a program that allows for some structure that helps him relate his body while in a classroom-like setting.
What does the program look like?
My son’s ESY program takes place in a classroom with about twenty other kids. All of the kids in his program land on the autism spectrum in mostly similar ways. They all are high functioning kids who need a program during the summer that focuses on OT issues.
The program is five weeks long, Mondays through Thursday, and takes place for only half a day.
This leaves plenty of time to schedule other summer-like activities during afternoons and long weekends, plus we still have five weeks of vacation time.
What happens for the middle school transition?
Well, we’re not quite sure yet because we haven’t had our transitional IEP yet. We think our son will be transferred to a new ESY program that is geared toward middle schoolers.
Plus, I believe this program will take place on the middle school campus.
That will allow my son some time to get used to a whole new campus (he’s been at his elementary school for seven years.)
I’m looking forward to the transitional IEP in May where a lot of my questions will (hopefully) be answered.
Still, I’m happy overall with my son’s ESY experience.
I’m looking forward to this new transition in my son’s life.
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