Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sort Yourself

Dear World With Whom Rooster Comes in Contact,

Let's make things a lot simpler for us all. Please sort yourself into two groups. In group One, let's have those of you who have some understanding, concern, empathy, interest in, or tolerance for my son, a difficult but extremely loveable seven-year-old who has autism. Have a seat right here next to me; I'll bring you coffee, and you can rest your eyes, hang out on my sofa and skip the rest of this post.

Everybody else, those of you I will euphemistically refer to as The Other Group, please state your damage. Keep it simple. Help me understand. I'll even make it really easy, "race to the top" style, and I'll offer you multiple choice. Are you:
A. a victim of some type of abuse or condition that renders you unable to have understanding, concern, empathy, interest or tolerance for a loveable kid?
B. purely lazy? You don't want to have to deal? Not into effort?
C. mean? Yes, I am talking to you, as a matter of fact. Because I know what to do about groups A and B. I know that the members of group A just need some understanding, concern, empathy, interest and tolerance themselves, and I know that the pervasive gang in group B will come around one day when their lazy butts are on the other side of prejudice and bigotry, but you people in C? You people who just. want. someone. to. fight? Who just have to make life into one conflict after the next? I just want you to identify yourselves. Hands up, and here is your placard. I want to see you coming. So I can walk an extra ten miles out of my way to avoid you. Growing up we had a saying, "I ain't got no time for you!" You people have taken up enough minutes already. Identify yourselves, and march on -- the other way. Whichever way the Rooster's family is not marching.

We'll be headed that way, over there on that virtual sofa with cool kids who are sipping coffee and making the world better (sometimes even educating those folks in A and B even) and there is absolutely no room there for the likes of you. Consider yourself NOT INCLUDED this time, if you get my drift.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

IEP and How We are Doing

The way I see it:

- We had some negative experiences at Rooster's first elementary school.
- We heard that another school nearby was better.
- We entered the better school's lottery.
- We got a call: we won the lottery!
- We showed up to registration and were told, "Oh, autism? No thanks, we have enough of those kids already. Our lottery was for typical kids. Go back where you came from."
- We consulted the district, officials, attorneys, etc. and heard we had a right to enroll our son in the better school.
- We finally were allowed to enroll him the week before school started.
- We heard, "Because you enrolled him so late, his services will not start on time."
- We told them, "Without services, he will struggle."
- The aide started three weeks late, misses work regularly, and is described by the principal as inadequate.
- My husband sees children bully, taunt, tease, hit, chase, and torment my son the minute he sets foot on the yard in the morning; my son doesn't want to go to school. He says everyone calls him "Bad Rooster."
- We get called for an IEP meeting to modify the behavior plan. At the IEP meeting, we hear that our son is a bully, that he is the one calling names, striking out. No one says anything when we describe the situation he faces the minute he enters the campus, never having even spoken a single word.
- We agree our son's behavior has regressed, but we place the blame squarely on a transition from hell because of the school and the lack of supports to which the law clearly states my son is entitled.
- We all agree the district provided aide does nothing, does more harm than good, and we decide to go for a behaviorist from a non public agency.
- I have to leave the IEP meeting ahead of my husband. He decides to sign it. But strangely there is no printer available. He reads it on the laptop, he signs.
- A copy comes home. It has a whole paragraph my husband has never seen. This describes my son as a menace and a safety hazard to others. It also has the wrong name of the school on the document, rendering the whole document invalid. A new document will have to be signed. This will all go down very, very differently.
- My husband? The nicest man anyone has ever met, will ever meet? Quivering with fury. He says, "They have messed with the wrong guy." He drafts emails, gets attorney phone numbers at the ready. He says, "I will never trust those people again. I will not allow them to abuse the system or our child."

The way the school seems to see it:
Kids who have autism should go away. They bring down our test scores, our precious API, our race to the top. They are expensive. We teach reading and math -- that is how we get paid -- we don't have time or money or energy for the whole child. We told you that after we accidentally picked you for enrollment but you would not listen. We said you didn't want you but you came anyway with your whining rants about rights and laws and blah blah blah. You should go back where you came from. Please leave your box tops, raffle donation, book club order, bake sale item and $1500 annual contribution in the box on the counter on your way out.