That stone wall would be the South Carolina Public School System District One. Today we went for our first IEP meeting with Monkey Boy’s school. And yes FINALLY Monkey Boy has an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder!!! (Insert cheer!)
Now first let me just say that the district people themselves have been very helpful. They gave him one of the most comprehensive evaluations I’ve ever seen, sending 3 people out independently to observe him in his classroom setting without telling him who they were and why they were there. They met with me, my wife, they recorded everything we said as evidenced in the summaries they provided us.
The DISTRICT people were very sympathetic and helpful. The autism specialist and the district psychologist were WONDERFUL….the SCHOOL staff…especially the principal, let’s just say I had to put my hand on my wife several times to make sure she didn’t attack them. Several times people at that table almost got an award winning book thrown at their heads!! (Let me say that the Occupational Therapist and the Resource Teacher were very sympathetic and really seemed interested in helping Monkey Boy, it was the two higher up representatives which were completely dead set against us).
The gist of it is that Monkey Boy is struggling in areas of organization, completing tasks, and the largest battle…he can’t seem to bring his daily agenda and homework sheets home on a regular basis, and when he does and we sign the damn things, he loses them or leaves them home or we the parents forgot to sign something and they (the school/his two teachers) take away his recess and ice cream privledges as punishment.
Instead he has to sit inside and complete missing homework, even if he did it, brought it in and the only thing missing is our signature! This has happened often enough that they have destroyed his desire to go to school. The kid comes comes home, flings his book bag across the room and screams in frustration EVERY DAY!!! Which of course prompts my wife to email/call me at work about it, which completely destroys any hope of me getting anything done.
Today, we went armed with a 7 page document of possible accommodations to discuss with them. They however wanted to only implement the things they wanted to implement. They adamantly refused to even consider removing the taking away of recess as a punishment. Saying, “Well we have to teach every child the same and we don’t want him using his disability as a crutch, and contribute to creating uselessness/helplessness in him. He has to be accountable the same as every other child.”
Which of course beggars the question “WHY THE F*** WERE WE THERE FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE ANYWAY? Isn’t the whole purpose of the IEP that measures be put into place because he CAN’T function like everyone else? They insisted that his organizational skills can be improved on, without addressing WHY he has organizational challenges…basically they don’t want to acknowledge that his disability is DISABLING….and the source of his disorganization!
They all want to say that we understand he has Asperger’s…but don’t want to acknowledge that his difficulties are stemming from it. Most likely because then they’ll have to actually do something about it. They did put some things in action which give me hope for some measure of success, but they barely touched the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say that my wife will begin the research for an advocate tomorrow.
They don’t know the fight they just started. I only hope we can survive long enough to win it. We are also looking at putting Monkey Boy into a school which actually has an autism/Asperger’s class in it. We are reluctant to pull him out in the middle of the school year, but we may end up having to.