Pros and Cons of retention for a 4th grader with special needs
March 26, 2014 11:32 AM Subscribe
I'm looking for research or studies that examine the pros and cons of having a child with special needs (especially Autism Spectrum Disorder) repeat a grade versus social promotion. I'd also like to hear from teachers or educators who've held kids back and any students (especially those that were receiving special education services) that were held back in the 3rd, 4th or 5th grade and how it impacted you.
My son is on the Autism Spectrum and is considered high-functioning in that he has an average IQ and generally doesn't have any severe behaviors that have to be managed. His biggest areas of deficit are attention, communication (both using language and understanding what people are saying to him) and executive functioning. He spends very little time in the regular classroom now because he's so far behind academically (2nd grade level/early 3rd grade in most areas). He's friendly with his classmates (and they seem friendly to him) but he doesn't have any significant friendships that we can see. He rarely talks about his classmates and generally spends his time on the playground by himself. He doesn't seem unhappy or distressed by this.
When we've brought up the idea of holding him back, the teachers and administrators talk about how "studies show" that holding back kids doesn't help them catch up academically. The teachers and administrators recommend promoting him to the next grade and just providing more intervention and modification of his current academic plan. When I did a google search for research on holding kids back, most of the studies seemed to focus on high-risk kids and how holding them back negatively impacts them. They dropped out of school early, they became aggressive...basically, the studies seemed to be saying that many of the kids that were held back SHOULD have been receiving special ed services to get them to grade level and should have stayed with their grade. So, I totally understand the concept of "social promotion" and why that might be preferable for most kids....but I'm not sure it's the right solution for my kid.
Basically, we're really considering having him repeat 4th grade so see if he can catch up on some of what he's missed and maybe (just maybe) be able to spend more time in the regular classroom going forward. His services have increased dramatically this year (4x what they were last year) so he's finally making some headway. We don't expect miracles but we just feel that socially promoting him just will leave him more isolated from his class as the work gets harder and he continues to struggle to catch up.