Back to Nicole’s question: how do Sweden and Austria differ in their approaches to special needs issues (therapies, school, financial support, open-mindedness, etc.). And does your decision to move to Sweden have anything to do with it.
Financial support in Sweden and Austria is pretty similar. We would receive about the same amount of ‘extra’ in both places. In Austria we get the double Familienbeihilfe (Barnbidrag), and we are currently at Level 1 (the lowest) of the Pfelgegeld (Vardbidrag). The amount comes out to be about the same as the Pfelgegeld is higher in Sweden, and I do not think we would have double Familienbeihilfe there.
Open Mindness: I do think there is more openness in Sweden to people with disabilities. Popular TV programs such as I en annan del av Köping, ICA-Jerry(link in Eng or see below clip), ICA being the largest grocery chain store in Sweden, Glada Hudik Teatern and such. ALl programs that have been broadcasted at prime TV times. Do I still Sweden still has a long way to go? Absolutely! Do I think Vince will make a change in the way of thinking in many individuals? I already know he does. In both places.
Schools: a big one, and of course very important. I do believe Vince will have a better future in the Swedish educational system. I am aware of the new school law that was passed and went into effect Aug 1, 2010. However here in Austria there is no national law that would give Vincent a right to an integrated school. If we have bad luck and the school where we live does not want to have him, we have no real choice but to either put him in an other school that would take him, or go for a special ed school. At this point we are not willing to put him in Special ed school. In the future if he needs to do so, we will do that then. But we truly believe that he will grow with this challenge (integration in a typical classroom) just has he has grown with each other challenge he has been placed in. We also believe we can also switch him to a special ed school later if needed, however, switching from special ed school to typical school is most likely not possible.
Furthermore, I am not a big fan of the general school system in Austria for Vincent OR Edgar. In Austria all kids attend Volkschule, and at 10 years of age it is time to decide if you are going to go for an academic education (Gymnasium) or if you are going for a practical education (Hauptschule). That is generalizing it a bit, as there are possibilities to change, but that adds additional years to your education.
The school system in Austria also has significantly less funding coming out of the national budget in comparison to Sweden.
All children have to buy their books, pens, pencils, papers, pretty much everything for school. Lunch is not served in school, but has to be brought or bought. All this is out-of-pocket costs for the parents. These are all things that pupils in Sweden receive.
I swear, if ONE more person suggests to me that Vince could be a carpenter when he grows up because of the carpenting schools they have here, I just might have to key their car. If he WANTS to be a carpenter, fine. If not, I am planning to keep my kid on the academic side of the education. You should see the ‘Oh she is crazy‘ looks that gets me.
I think that the first 9 years of Swedish schools (obligatory education for all individuals in Sweden) have a broader and better educational base than what is offered in Austria. I believe this for both my kids. I do understand that there are exceptions and there are schools here in Austria and teachers with huge hearts and lots of will, but in general I think the overall education is better in Sweden. I also understand that it will not be easy to fight for Vincent’s rights in Sweden either, but I do believe a common national law is of advantages to us.