Dec 30, 2007
As I look back on all the places we've been, some places have the right mix of school districts, social services and neighborhood acceptance to make a difference. Others make a negative difference the other way!
Some states take a "free and appropriate pubic education" for all seriously, others don't care.
Iowa, took their "child find" program seriously and as soon as psyc evaluated my daughter, he gave us the school to register her in. A day later, we had a social worker at our house talking to us and the next monday treachers came to our house and day care to work with our daughter, we had her in play groups, variouys tests m-teams. The ball was in motion.
So we needed to move. We moved to Colorado. I thought her program was federal-funded, so it should be available anywhere in the USA. Right? WRONG! Colorado seemed to have an idependent spirit and seems to abhor federal mandates and funding linked to doing the right thing. To get her in a similar program, it was administered via a non-profit agency and she had to get on a waiting list TO BE ON a waiting list for 9 months! This is something I shoud just talk to the principal and register her for school and get their help in finding a 3 thru K program. The birth to 3 program, infant stimulation, 4k programs, headstart, early intervention programs. whatever were out of reach to us!
I went to the school board, governors office (the first lady was big on early intervention) to asl what's going on here. Nothing concrete. School starts with kindergarten at 5 years old for all children. Any early intervention was not their responibility. We had to go to a non-profit ageny to decide if she gets in. So, we hear the governor and first lady say early intervention is critical. Identify and reach out to these children in their formative years ASAP. Then we also hear them say to get on a waiting list for these services.
So we take her IEP M-team reports to this non-profit agency. Deaf ears. I decided to go to the press. The city education desk had one reporter. We agreed to meet at a school board meeting. I waited. She stood me up! Why would a reporter covering education in the city not be at a school board meeting? Maybe because she worlked for a paper who got Denver stories (a few miles away) from the wire service! When I called the reeporter, she informed me that she gets the audio tapes from a board member. WHAT??? HUH???
I said to her that if she had to take their stories from the govermnent (school board) and not have tyhe decency to be there, the paper may as well be Pravda! That got her and a photog out to our house. We got a front page story along with some facts ans statistics I provided. I thing 600 other children were on the waiting list as well. Of course, we get a lot of private schools calling us. The point of the story was a "free and appropriate PUBLIC education." She was registered 3 weeks after the story hit the stands.
The big difference is the "we" vs "I" mentality. Some states take a "WE" approach to services; others have this independent "I" approach.
As we moved to Wisconsin, we find vast differences in the individual schools. When Colorado pronounced her "normal" after Kindergaerten, we register her in a regular ed first grade. They see problems with her then eventually move her into special ed in another school. The faculty and students at that school grew up around children with special needs and felt comfortable. It was a good environment for her. Problem is she was too high-functioning for special ed and not functioning at age appropriate social skills. She was stuck in the middle. They didn't know what to do with her. The administration wanted her back into her "neighborhood" school.
This remained one of the biggest mistakes of my entire life. I fought to keep her in spec ed school for at least one more year. My mistake was signing her to go back to her former school. The faculty and students were only accustomed to ADD/ADHD as a special need. Autism wasn't even known. The students had no tolerence for children with autsm. She was DIFFERENT. We all know what happens to children who are DIFFERENT in a community of conformists.
We move again. Another city in Wisconsin, Here I am older and able to learn from my mistakes. After a few rough edges, my daughter graduated high school with honors, top 10- percent. She is going to Art Institute. Did school prepare her for adulthood in the world? She still struggles.