I’ve mentioned I am a *retired* local ASA (Autism Society of America) Chapter Prez.. I still get autism calls because my phone number is out there on some forgotten website in the cyber-sphere, collecting cyber-dust I would imagine. I spent an hour and half today with one such Autism Call from a Young Autism Mommy and I have to tell you….I am livid.
I really thought with autism in the news and much more *popular*, all these antiquated and tired views and reasons for autism would be retired. I really thought the treatment I received thirty-plus years ago because I *caused* my son’s disability would not be happening to the Young Autism Mothers (my daughters-in-autism) of today. I really thought folks (especially educators) knew about some of the challenges of parenting a young child with autism, such as lack of sleep, the screaming, the feces smearing, the temper tantrums from even slight changes in their lives, the food and feeding issues, the lack of fear of dangers, and the sheer exhaustion and guilt that goes with all of it…because, well, autism seems to be much more prevalent and trendy than Back in the Day. I was wrong. My Young Autism Mommy has been guilted so much, she is afraid her child will taken away from her by the school district.
Her Little Boy was diagnosed with autism a few months before his third birthday last year, weeks before the District’s Early Childhood Screening. She was able to get a last minute appointment for the screening and, armed with the appropriate papers from the diagnosing physician, off they went. She was told Little Boy was eligible for all services and was given the option of having him begin right then because they had space for him in an afternoon class. She was also told they would be doing a Case Study (For those of you not familiar; Case Studies are done every three years throughout a special education student’s school career and can include behavior, academic, speech, physical, occupational and social evaluations) during the summer no matter if he began the EC Program immediately or waited until the fall.
She and her spouse decided to wait until fall since Little Boy was in a Montessori Preschool in the afternoon with teachers who loved him and he loved them too. Since the EC Program he would be in was only half-day, they reasoned that in the fall they could keep him in the Montessori program he loved for half the day and do the therapeutic Early Childhood Program the other half. As well, she was promised the Case Study could be done during the summer. As you can imagine, nothing went according to plan.
They tried to bully her into enrolling him right away and when she refused (beginning a school program the last 6 weeks of school with a young child with autism….were they NUTZ?), they became belligerent. They told her he would NOT be able to start school in the fall until the Case Study was finished and oops, they misspoke, couldn’t do it over the summer. They scheduled him for the morning program, as she requested so he could continue with his Montessori Pre-School. Then just before school began at the last minute, decided he would be in the afternoon program afterall. The Montessori School didn’t have room for him in their morning program so Young Autism Mommy and Young Autism Daddy decided to try the EC program alone. It took the District four weeks to do their initial Case Study (their home visit didn’t go well). Then, it was as if the District had never heard of autism when Little Boy had daily meltdowns, lost what speech he had, had to be put back in diapers, flapped his hands (loudly) when he was required to sit for any length of time and ate crayons behind his teacher’s back. He’s now improving, behavior-wise, but they have to get these things under control before real learning can begin. Transitions are hell for children with autism and you would think the school district would have a plan for children such as Little Boy. Apparently, not. And the District is blaming his family environment for the regression.
I am going to Young Autism Mommy’s first spring IEP meeting with her. I haven’t gone to an IEP meeting since Kiddo aged out but I feel so outraged by her treatment, I am going. Don’t think me gullible; I am meeting her and Little Boy at our local McDonald’s Playland next week, a week before the IEP meeting, to meet her and her child to see if this is the real deal. My instincts tell me it is.
We’ll decide what she wants when we meet at McDonald’s and what Little Boy really needs. If I do end up going to the meeting, I will explain it’s Young Autism Mommy’s show, not mine. I will be there for moral support and to *translate* from education-ese to regular English anything she doesn’t understand. Young Autism Mommy is going to need to step up and not be emotional……in a way, the District is manipulating her by frightening her by their vague threats. If she’s frightened, she is less likely to push for what Little Boy needs and is entitled to. And if Little Boy doesn’t get all the services he’s entitled to, it’s less money for the District. (A quick IEP tip from Your Autism Cuppa here–it’s all about money so you should follow the money!)
I’ll try to write about what happens at McDonald’s next week. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!