So yesterday’s visit to the School for Incorrigible Girls went very well.  We visited.  I don’t know if its official description is a “clinical program in an educational setting” or an “educational program in a clinical setting,” but either way, it is what it is.  When you walk in, it just looks like a regular doctor’s office.  That’s because the school is downstairs.  In the basement.  MWAHAHAHAHAHA!  No, it’s not that bad.  There are windows and natural light coming in.  No bars on the windows. 

There is a long corridor with lots of therapists’ offices.  There are two classrooms and there is a common area for full-group activities and a half-gym for PE-type stuff.  The gym looks like a converted chapel, what with its vaulted ceilings and high windows letting in the light from heaven.  The acoustics are…amazing.  I do not want to be there for dodgeball without ear plugs.  They have an art room with a kiln.  A freaking kiln!  No iron maiden, as my husband noted.

Actually, the creepiest thing we saw was the “quiet room,” which, actually, when I think on it, is exactly what a quiet room should be:  a totally blank space where kids can go to de-escalate, without any external stimulation.  There’s no door–and by this, I mean there’s no door, the thing that goes open and shut.  When I mentioned this to a friend of mine, she wondered how the kids got in and out, if they were supposed to climb through a window or something.  No.  There is a doorway, but no door.  So the children are free to come and go; it’s not a check-out-any-time-you-like-but-you-can-never-leave situation.  The walls are totally bare, the carpet an indescript gray, and there’s no furniture.  The walls aren’t padded, but they are reinforced, to keep the kids from kicking holes in them.  (Oh, you look horrified, but that’s exactly what I’d recommend for any quiet room that was housing my child.)  Plexiglass on the windows.  Yes, again, there are windows.  It’s perfectly serene.  No reason it should have given me the willies.  Maybe I just long for a room like that in my own house.  Maybe someday, when we put the addition over the garage.  Ah, dreams.

So the program currently has ten kids total, ages 8-12.  Most of the kids are in the 11-12 range.  Princess Zurg would be one of two nine-year-olds; everyone else is older, including the two girls presently in the program, who are both 12.  (Quoth the director, “One of them is nice.”  Awesome.)  Two or maybe three students have Asperger’s or something similar.  They have a “Rainbow” group for kids on the spectrum.  (PZ likes rainbows–and who doesn’t?)  They have a ridiculously huge staff.  There are more adults than children.  Which I guess isn’t hard to do when you have two teachers, a staff psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, the program director, and seven interns.  And that’s just for starters.  The academics are very basic–three R’s, not much else.  Maybe an occasional science lesson.  Sugar Daddy asked if they had art, and the director laughed.  They actually have three art therapists on staff, so some kids have art twice a day.  Yes, they have art.  They have a freaking kiln! 

So they have to do an intake evaluation, to see if PZ qualifies for the program.  They have to see just how crazy she is.  Not that these children are crazy, mind you.  Hey, I have a mental illness myself.  I’m being insensitive and tacky, but in that self-consciously ironic way, so don’t judge me, people.  I’m ready to put my child in a psychiatric facility.  I’m just trying to keep it real.

Or maybe I’m trying to keep it unreal.  This is a program for children with “serious psychiatric problems,” which means something different in the educational system than it does in the vernacular.  Apparently.  For the most part this feels like just another alternative placement.  On the other hand, it’s a 45-minute bus ride and we have to account for her whereabouts and goings-on 24/7 and attend family therapy once a week (in freaking Tigard–gaaaah!–am I even capable of saying “Tigard” without the “freaking” prefix?) and the average stay is 18 months.  In 18 months PZ will be in middle school.  I could cry.  That’s what I feel like doing. 

But my mind is not closed.  If anything, after yesterday’s visit, my mind is more open.  Assuming she qualifies, this program is the equivalent of literally tens of thousands of dollars of therapy, all paid for by the school district.  Your tax dollars at work, fellow citizens.  My husband thanks you.  My daughter thanks you.  Her siblings thank you.  And I thank you.

So yeah, that’s where it stands.  We started the paperwork.  We’ll see.  We’ll see.