Friday, April 25, 2014

Going Home

You may have noticed that I haven't been online at all lately, there are reasons. Since we have come to an agreement and our family has been informed, I think I'm ready to talk about it.

My husband and I have done a lot of talking, a lot of thinking, and a lot of soul searching. We have decided that our marriage just isn't working for us. The reaction wasn't exactly what we expected. The kids are cool with it, but family and friends seem disturbed. The neighbor actually cried. Meanwhile, we're looking at each other wondering what the hell is wrong with people. We're both fine. It's a mutual agreement that was very thoroughly thought out. It being a decision based on reasonable and logical matters should be the perfect explanation on why it's not working for us. The ones closest to us saw it coming, which explains why none of the people involved are upset. We thought it through, we have a plan, there are no bad feelings and everything has been worked out to both parties' satisfaction.

Well, Walter was upset for a minute. He's already got his schedule picked out for next year, he's already toured the High School. He's not worried about leaving his friends, he knows he'll see them when he comes to visit his dad and he knows he has them on Facebook and texting. He's worried about leaving his school. and so am I. Which, ironically, was exactly the piece that made the decision for us. For the school to be the only reason I would hesitate to get a divorce is fucked up. There needs to be more to a marriage than a school. It breaks my heart to leave the schools but I can only do what is best for us and hope that the work I have put in isn't wasted. I have hope that it will help someone else.

I could find a way to stay here, but I won't. As much as there needs to be more to marriage than a school district, there needs to be more to life. There is nothing here for me. I'm here because my husband is here, and I can't say there's anything here that I really care about. No friends, no family, and I can't even find my way around my community without a GPS. We're going home.

Parenting won't be changing. Our boys are our boys.

Thing1 is just fine. He's grown and on his own. In his job, he's a manager over 3 cities, his job is stable- he's still got plans on working his way higher in the company. His personal life is stable, and his girl is good.

Thing2, there's no way in hell I'm going anywhere before I see my boy graduate. We've worked long and hard for this day. After he graduates, he has a job lined up making decent money and with the opportunity to work his way up to being a mechanic. He's wanted that for as long as I can remember. He's going to do great.

They both know I'm not really going anywhere. They are both mine and I will be here for them just as much as before I moved.

I have two neighboring towns I'm looking at. Hillsboro and Festus. Neither one is too far away. Hillsboro is my first choice since that's where my family is. Festus is maybe 10 minutes away. As far as schools go, I'm wary of both.

Walter is losing some great educational opportunities leaving this district- most notably South Tech- I hope that one of these schools can give him what he needs and/or comparable opportunities. He wasn't quite as concerned about moving after I asked him to give me a list of what he wants and as soon as I find out where we are going, I'll go talk to someone. After a full day, the only one he could remember was the math class, which I already knew had to be addressed.

Alex... man, I just don't know. Either place, Alex's school is determined. I thought it was a great school in Kindergarten, but now I'm wondering what they really have to offer. Transitioning out will be easier, better, more options. I've always known I would have to leave once Alex transitioned out of school, raising a special needs child is difficult but a special needs adult is a whole new world. When I need to choose, Alex is always my choice. So, I've known that I would need to go home eventually, but I thought I would see him graduate from the school he's in. Considering a new school is terrifying, especially considering information I didn't have when Alex was there the first time. This school will have to be watched. closely.

Goofy... Alex's current school would be perfect for him. Alex's new school is not even an option. That means we need to work even harder at making his IEP suitable for GenEd and if that doesn't work, self contained is the only appropriate option. That sucks. But, it is what it is. We'll figure it out.

I have to get a job. I already have one picked out and am looking at a backup. This is going to be different for Walter, but he's excited that he'll be getting paid for helping. I'll be working part time midnights so that I can be there in the evenings to help the boys through their routines and to put them to bed. Walter will be in charge while I'm gone and I'll be back before they have to get ready for school in the mornings. No matter where we go, help will not be more than 2 minutes away. Sleep is going to suck, especially school breaks and weekends, but we're used to that, aren't we? ;)

I'm not sure that I'll be able to be online much while we work on things so I ask you to be patient with me. I will be back to my usual nonstop chatter soon enough.

This is going to be good and I will have many great things to tell you. I have faith.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting ready for Goofy's IEP meeting.

This week has flown by, hasn't it? After the Goofy Child's Eligibility Meeting, I thought I would take just a little bit of a break but then time got away from me. Plus, my husband's on vacation and you know how distracting that man can be. Gotta love him. Everything is working out. There are still some things to figure out, and I still can't wait for the last day of school, but it's moving along. It's mostly easy from here on out (I'm praying) and it feels good to be "off" for just a little bit. The hardest parts are over. Here in about 6 weeks I can just let it all go and enjoy my heathens.

I'm still waiting on a meeting date to discuss Alex's staff change, the reason I'm waiting is totally legit so I don't mind at all. I expect this one to be easy, anyway. I won't know for sure about follow through until August, but I'm praying. We've been through a lot these past few years and this year I think we're finally completely on the same page. He understands what my problems are and why, I understand that he is trying. Hopefully, this time around, when August gets here, I won't be raging about stupid decisions. All of the time we spent putting more effort into actually communicating and trying to work together, after being able to see what is going on in the school and why decisions are made, having decisions explained in a way that makes sense and knowing my arguments are being heard and considered, it does help considerably.

The Goofy Child's IEP meeting is April 28. I'm doing my best to not let the anxiety get to me. I'm not at all anxious about the IEP, I'm anxious about placement. They say they are not really thinking self contained but I don't know that a general education classroom is going to be good for educational benefit. Educational benefit trumps inclusion any day. The IEP should be designed to provide educational benefit in an appropriate setting. That means the IEP should be the answer. Somehow, the IEP should help him in a way that the 504 didn't. The pit in my stomach says that is through placement, but I'm trying hard to give them the benefit of doubt and ignore placement for now and focus on designing the IEP for a GenEd classroom.

I sat down and thought of what more he could need in the general education classroom as far as accommodations. I've told you before and I'll tell you again- know what you want and know how to get it. You cannot just be all- I want something, find it. You need to be specific. You need to be able to tell them what your concerns are. They don't work for you, they work with you. Team, you know. If you don't know what your concerns are, they won't know where to look. If you don't know what your concerns are, you need to do some work beforehand to find out. Yes, it takes work. A lot of work. It's hard. It seriously sucks. But it is what it is, stand up or sit down.

Being able to explain why you want the things you are asking for is going to go a long way in being able to get it. You can't say, "I want a 1:1 aide." and just expect them to do it because you want it. You need to be able to explain how it's going to help and what happens if he doesn't get it. If you have examples or documentation of how he's already shown a need, it will be harder for them to say no and easier for them to work with you to find a good solution- whether it's the one you asked for or one you can agree on.

You need to know your bottom lines. Most likely, there are places in the IEP you don't care to negotiate on and other places that you will fight to the death over. At least, that's the way it is for me. With Alex, since my stance on his stuff is already clear, I leave academic goals to the teacher. She tells me what she wants, I do what I can to help at home. Speech, I have a general idea of where I would like to go and a definite idea of where I don't want to go and we work it out to find middle ground. Occupational Therapy, I am all over that shit. When it comes to OT, this is the hill I will die on. I haven't quite figured out my bottom lines for the Goofy One, but I will. For now, I just have concerns, ideas, and suspicious looks to toss around ;) 

Another thing is you have the right to a Notice of Action from the school a reasonable time before the school plans to take (or refuses to take) actions related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child. Parents should also receive prior written notice (PWN is a Notice of Action) a reasonable time before the school plans to take (or refuses to take) actions related to the provision of FAPE to your child. "Saying “no” is too easy for some IEP teams. Articulating “an explanation of why the agency . . . refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the . . . refused action” (20 U.S.C. 1415(c)) is tough." As a member of the team, your proposals should be considered and a Notice of Action should be provided. If they aren't included, write it yourself. I included a link to Wrightslaw's how-to a few seconds ago. It's a very good way to make sure your voice is heard.

One of my main concerns is to make sure the IEP is followed. This is a big one for me, and I have solid reasons. Lol, I tell you as if you guys haven't had to frequently say, "but, it's in their IEP." I think this would fall under my Parent Concerns of home/school communication and progress reporting. If you read Wrightslaw's Letter to Baker, you will see that you have the right to access education records- including records such as therapy logs. Whether or not this will work for progress reporting... I don't know yet but it's worth a try.

So, anyway, that's where we're at right now. I have most of my plan submitted for consideration and I'm waiting to hear their plan. As a team, we're still in the beginning stages of feeling each other out, it's going to take time and effort to build a working relationship. Until then, Goofy needs a safety net and it's my job to provide it. The safety net will be built into the IEP which is why it is so important for me to know what my concerns are and have suggestions ready to discuss as a team.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Good Times...

You guys, I have the best news! Ok, I have lots of good news.

So, I told you I was going to talk to the Goofy One's resource teacher? She's awesome. She sounds just like Alex's school with the working together and liking my kid and stuff (not that she's met him yet that I know of, but I don't expect that to change- the boy's cute.) After I emailed her asking how we could work together, she sent me a list of questions to answer. Luckily, after working with Alex's school I had a pretty good idea of what she could want and most of her questions were already answered, all I had to do was send it in.

I have to tell you, next year is actually looking pretty good. The only way this team could get better is to replace one who will not be named and keep this year's teacher forever. I wonder what it would take to convince her that she never really liked teaching first grade and that second grade will be so much better...

More good news... Alex. We have a meeting coming up eventually to discuss staff change. In the past, staff change has been ridiculous. This year, we got to keep an aide from last year and they only have 2 aides working with him on alternate days so I'm doing my best to convince the man Alex needs staff overlap. Check it out, the trend continues.




Top: last year with staff change
Bottom: this year with overlap

See it? Isn't it beautiful? I'm excited. This is going to be great. We are totally going to have overlap. Consistency is our friend.

Also, I talked to Walter's future principal some time recently... I don't know, within the past few months. Walter is most definitely covered. We have a plan. The math class he's going into has built in support and data collection and he'll get RtI in TAP. He can do tutoring in TAP or after school, praise the Lord for no more 4:00 dashes to the school and for no more "Don't forget me." ... "Did you forget me? You forgot me, didn't you?" text messages from my first born.

There's more.

June 1, Thing2 is graduating. Graduating. From High School. There is a lot of excitement over this one. I even have a skirt. A skirt, people. Yeah, this is serious. 2 down, 3 to go.

And it gets even better, Alex can't go. Too many people, too much noise, the flashing lights, the loud music... *sensory nightmare* even worse than mama's lullabies. So Alex is getting his first ever babysitter. A real one. My friend Rae agreed to come and hang out with him while I go watch my boy graduate from high school.

Life is good. :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Getting Involved... Goofy's IEP

A while back, October, maybe... I lost my shit on Alex's occupational therapist. She's a nice woman, I adore her, and I think she is GREAT at her job. She is my favorite OT ever. She's absolutely competent and loves her job. She does what is needed in a timely manner- in my opinion, going above and beyond- and I appreciate that. BUT, I did. Over a half-assed report that didn't tell me crap about what I needed to know to weigh in on a very important decision. The response came from Alex's principal. He said, "Mac, I will not allow cursing at staff." Then he very calmly and very politely (true) invited me to see how I was putting a team member on the defensive and how it was not good for the team. I very calmly and very politely (lie) invited him to see things from my perspective. I have already been put on the defensive, excluded from the team because I don't have the information necessary to weigh in on a bullshit, poorly thought out proposal. Later, after I calmed down a bit, I thought about what he said. I decided to hold onto it. I'll try it his way.

Over the past 5 months, when I get close to losing my temper, I think about his words. I've shortened it to the one phrase, but it works. mostly. I remember the conversation and I breathe. and then I try to be calm, clear, and polite. mostly. Alex's sister's principal is a freakin' piece of work, man. "I'm going to call my attorneys. More than one. I'm reaching for my phone, do you see me? I'm going to call them." Me: *blank stare* Alex's Mommy: "Call them. I want to talk to them, too." and then today, we're talking about Alex's sister not being able to do evaluations without her glasses, the wait list on getting in to the eye doctor she sees, and how that will affect the timeline. Principal: "well, we can't make the appointment FOR you." So, yeah, when it comes to that one, I fail miserably at not losing my temper. I could never be an advocate. But for the most part, I've tried hard and I've done pretty well. Those words got me through Goofy's evaluations with minimal rudeness.

And now we get to the problem...

We had the Goofy Child's eligibility meeting Thursday. Even with medication, Remedial Reading, RtI for handwriting, all of the accommodations in his 504 (and he has a lot), and the help he's getting at home... it's just not cutting it. He qualifies for an IEP under Other Health Impairment for his ADHD.

They keep saying he does best in "small group" and "1:1," they say he is highly distractible and off task in the classroom. They've already said we've tried all of this stuff. They say they are not planning on putting him in a self contained classroom. They say we will discuss it at the IEP meeting.

Here is my problem... what I'm not understanding... His RtI and Remedial reading will be moving to the resource room. He's losing private OT and getting school OT. He's moving his 504 accommodations to IEP accommodations. He's keeping his meds. What has changed? We are doing the exact same things and giving them different names. How is renaming what we are already doing going to help him more than what we are already doing? see the confusion? We will discuss it at the IEP meeting.

"Mac, I will not allow cursing at staff." What am I supposed to do? Where do I even turn for help here? Alex's school can't help me because Goofy's not their student. Every time I try to ask a question, I get sent to Goofy's Area Coordinator. I spent the night and the day thinking on it.

At Alex's school, we are a team. We work together, we talk things out, we share ideas, we share our experiences, we all want what is best for Alex and we all bust our asses to give him what he needs... and I can't help but think of how we got to this point. As unpleasant as my way can be, it's also effective and very much necessary at times. At Goofy's school, it's us and them. They will write the goals and when we approve them, we will have participated in making the IEP. Sorry, honey, that's not how it works. I have experienced how it is supposed to be and I can't go back to the old way. I am his parent. I am an equal and active member of my son's team and I cannot accept anything less.

In talking to my husband about it, he let me know clearly that he is not pleased. I go too far. Why can't I just let it go? Why do I have to be involved in everything? I have to admit that these past months have taken a toll on our marriage. Last week, we were even talking divorce. We decided against it. Well, he stopped talking about it when I told him to go for it, same thing. So, this school thing is a little bit of a sore spot and he is very disappointed that it's not completely over. It's not every day that you get to quote both Rowley and Slim Shady in the same argument. It was a good one. So, here's the thing... Even the law counts on the parents being involved.

Rowley: "Entrusting a child's education to state and local agencies does not leave the child without protection. Congress sought to protect individual children by providing for parental involvement in the development of State plans and policies, supra, at 4-5 and n. 6, and in the formulation of the child's individual educational program...As this very case demonstrates, parents and guardians will not lack ardor in seeking to ensure that handicapped children receive all the benefits to which they are entitled by the Act."

If you don't step up and take your place, who is going to protect your child's best interest and their rights? I cannot wait until the IEP meeting to be involved in the planning of the IEP. It's more efficient to help write the damned thing in the first place. Which is actually where Slim Shady comes in- yes, I have a foul mouth.

So, back on topic, I have a policy- always ask nicely...the first time. Pete and Pam say you should make them want to help you. I say don't give the option to refuse. So, I did all of the above. The Goofy One's case manager is his resource teacher. That means she's the one gathering people's stuff and putting it together. I told her that I would like to discuss the process just so I can understand clearly what my expected role is, I described how we do things at Alex's school, used key phrases that are easily recognized as being from NCLB, and IDEA (praying she's read either one...), and asked her how she would like for us to work together so that I can be involved in planning Goofy's IEP. I don't expect a response before Monday, but I'm hoping it will be a willingness to cooperate for the Goofy Child's best interest.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Considering an Advocate

Ok, this has been an emotional week. A very emotional week. At our last meeting, we agreed that the Goofy One needs an evaluation so I turned in a written request to get a written copy of the evaluation reports to review before the eligibility meeting. When I handed it to the School Psychologist and the Area Coordinator, they assured me that there would be no problem giving me the evaluation reports beforehand so that I could prepare for the meeting. It's getting close to time for the meeting so I emailed them to ask when I can expect the reports and was told that they would be unable to give me the reports until after the meeting. Oh, I was mad. Very mad. So, I emailed them back firmly objecting. I reminded them of my formal written request and their verbal agreement to provide the reports. That email was ignored.

Then the anxiety set in. If they don't give me the reports, there's not a damned thing I can do (that I have found yet) except document it for the due process hearing. That may help in the end, but it's not going to help with this meeting. My husband has gone with me to every meeting this year, and I love him for the support, but he has no clue what is going on. I have a clue what is going on but I can't follow a conversation unless I already know what we are talking about. If I can't get the reports before the meeting, I can't properly discuss the information. What is going to happen is both of us are going to go in there and just be bombarded with words that have no meaning. Goofy is screwed.

I called the lawyer I found online. Her website is freaking awesome, she looks perfect for us. I asked for a consultation and got a phone call. Yeah. That was fun. and then, even better, she doesn't want to be a lawyer, she's more of an advocate. The choices are, I can take her with us to the meeting for $150 or call the other guy for due process for $300/hour. They are the only two in this area. Those are some scary options, but I am not going to be able to meaningfully participate in this meeting and someone has to. The conversation with her took the anxiety and pushed it right over the edge into panic. I found the money, set up a meeting with her, and emailed the team to reschedule our meeting so that she could be there.

I started gathering and organizing everything I have that she will need:
  • Contact log/ emails
  • Documentation of what we are working on at home
  • Homework log
  • The Reading Specialist's video of Goofy reading
  • My videos of Goofy reading
  • Pictures of the Goofy Child's room/work area
  • Behavior Charts
  • Visual Schedules
  • Evaluations
  • Reports/Report cards
  • Written Requests
  • The list goes on...
The more I sort, the more pissed off I get. At the school, at the advocate, at myself. This is ridiculous. I'm pissed off that I have to get an advocate, but I'm thankful the pressure is off of me.

I have arrangements made, emails sent, and I'm sitting in the waiting room of Goofy's OT office when I get an email from Goofy's principal. She thinks there may have been some confusion. They can absolutely share the evaluation results with me prior to the meeting, the report that they are unable to give me is the eligibility report that is a result of our meeting.

and now I'm back into uncertainty. It's not a comfortable place to be, and honestly, I'm afraid. There's a trick here somewhere, I'm sure of it, but I don't see it yet. There are a few possibilities, one being that they will promise the information and not follow through and the other being a guest at the eligibility meeting.

They sent me a notice for this meeting, I don't always get one, so I'm thankful they sent one this time. They invited someone new to this meeting, an Effective Practice Specialist. I've never heard of such a thing so I googled her. She's a Diagnostic Specialist. What business she has in Goofy's meeting, I don't know. As far as I can figure she's there for one of three reasons:
  1. She has a legitimate reason to be there, to share information about Goofy
  2. To back up the School Psychologist when he tells me no
  3. To help us decide where he qualifies
So, here's the trouble- hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I'm pretty sure I'm in over my head.

I have two choices- $150 that I don't really have for an advocate or $300/hr that I don't really have for a lawyer.

This is a hard decision to make. If I can get the information I need to prepare for the meeting, I don't really need the advocate. I need the advocate because I can't properly discuss what Goofy needs because of my difficulty with conversations. Taking the advocate, in my unique situation, has both pros and cons. The bottom line is I needed her because I was missing vital information that they are now willing to give me, so there is a decision that needs to be made quickly.

The biggest issue, for me, is I'm worried that I'm either going to take money that we don't have and throw it away on something that I don't end up needing that will also create a hostile environment when we've all worked hard to make this a team effort and to keep things civil or that I will foolishly opt out this opportunity to use an advocate to work it out before the decision is made and end up in due process paying an obscenely larger amount of money to fix what an advocate could have helped with in the beginning. Because these are my only options- $150 for an advocate or $300/hr for a lawyer, right?

I don't know what to do and I'm sure either way I go, I'm going to regret it. That EPS they invited is really making me nervous. I talked to a couple of friends. One knows Special Ed, one does not. The one who knows Special Ed had really great advice that got me thinking straight. The one who does not know Special Ed had questions that held the answer. I had to explain the process from beginning to end, I had to explain my rights. The advocate threw me for a loop with the either/or and completely left option #3 out of the equation. If I disagree with the team's decision, I have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation.

I thought for a minute that that was not for us because I already have private evaluations as well as the school's evaluations. I googled the tests they are using and one of them warned that too many tests in a short amount of time will invalidate the tests. I talked to a School Psychologist who runs Breaking Out of the Box (she's great, check her out) and she told me that is true, but they can use different tests that would not invalidate the testing, they just need to know what tests the previous evaluators used. What I need to find out now is if mediation is a possibility after that.

For now, that's my tentative plan. I assume I will have everything I need to prepare, I will pass on the advocate for now, and give it all I've got. If that isn't enough, I will request an Independent Evaluation and look at the advocate again if we need mediation. It's a big gamble, but I think it's the right risk to take.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Special People

As long as you all have been reading me, you know by now that I have some seriously mixed feelings about our schools- a lot of rage and a lot of love, a lot of people that irritate the hell out of me and a lot of people I admire, and a lot of those lists overlapping.

Being an autism blogger (meaning spending a freaking lot of my time being caught up in special needs parenting and special education and all of the stories that come with it) I don't really get to see much good. I see the fights, the abuse, the lack of services, the lack of funding... everything that's missing and nothing that's good enough.

I don't hear the stories about the good teachers. The ones who go out of their way to brighten up a child's day in the process of teaching them something. I don't hear about the teachers who love their job and want more than anything to help these children. The ones who actually enjoy what they do and aren't just there to collect a paycheck for something they lost the passion for long ago. It's not the good ones that need the attention, is it? They are already good. You don't fix what isn't broken. But, I do need to hear that. I need some sunshine in my days. I need, not only to know that we're not fighting a losing battle, but to know there is good in this world and educators who care.

It's been a long couple of years, this year has been especially hard, and I'm at a breaking point right now. I need hope. I need promise. I need to know that we parents (some of us, but let's not get started on that right now) are not the only ones fighting. and so I search out educators.

I've been following a blogging superintendent that caught my attention a while back, he's pretty cool- you can find him blogging here and on Twitter here. So, I've been following him (not the same as stalking, following is legal.) and I've seen some pretty great tweets from him with these crazy hashtags like #colchat and stuff. I'm not all that twitter savvy- at all- so I googled it. They're twitter chats. Schools chatting about how to improve their students' learning and sharing ideas, supporting each other and stuff. I've been a lot more active on Twitter lately than I probably should be, but it might be worth it.

In those chats are so many teachers, principals, school administration... every single one of them have something great to offer. Every single one of them are positive and encouraging, and dedicated to their ideals. They have great ideas and wonderful stories to share. They also have a completely different perspective. I've seen comments here and there about supporting the students that have no support, I've read blogs about why teachers burn out in rough schools, and blogs about how the teachers feel about their students. I've read many blogs over the past couple of weeks, the more personal ones are my favorite, the ones where they talk about what education means to them, where they share their thoughts on how things are and what they want.

There for a minute, I even got my sense of humor back. I know Walter has several good teachers in his middle school, I know Thing2's principal is cool, I love Alex's entire staff, and Goofy's teacher is amazing. I know this, but it gets beat down in the fight for services so seeing these educators' passion for what they do is a desperately needed breath of fresh air.

Now that we're back into the fight for services, that got beat back down. Talking to the staff at Alex's sister's meeting was another episode of relationships gone sour or staff gone wild, I don't even know which one that would be. The total lack of professionalism, the dirty looks, the obvious anger, the disrespectful and condescending tone, the flat out rudeness of the staff overshadowed all of these wonderful people I have found and had me thanking God that my children are not in that school district. They stole my sunshine, but only for a minute.

After I raged it out on my own blog, a post came to my phone. Singing in Public, 30 days of autism. She used one of my quotes among many others (that were much better- go look). My own shocked me out of my foul mood-

“ ‘This, too, shall pass.’
It’s a reminder on the hard days that it doesn’t last forever,
and it’s a reminder on the good days that it doesn’t last forever.” 
 
By the end of the post, I had tears in my eyes. I love this community. Unrelenting optimism and all.

Then another post came to my phone, Curiously Collaborative's I don't believe anymore. I needed this today. I needed to be reminded that it's not all like that. I needed to be reminded that my kids are in good hands. No matter what is going on elsewhere in the world- Walter has several good teachers, Thing2's principal is cool, I love Alex's entire staff, and Goofy's teacher is amazing. There are people who care. There are people who are looking out for my kids' best interest. There are even people who go out of their way to help (Alex's principal). I am not the only one who wants them to succeed. I am not the only one who cares about them. I am not alone in this fight to get my boys the education they need.      ...just the services ;)

and, bonus, if you look right up there, in the previous sentence, I think I even got my sense of humor back. Now, my younger boys are in the basement, passed out in their brothers' beds after early morning tornado sirens. I think I'm going to go watch them sleep for a few minutes. Probably take some pictures so I can remember this moment because it's not going to last forever. For all of you who helped me out without even knowing it.... Thank you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Reason for The Season


Autism awareness month kicked of exactly as I expected. and underscores the reason we need more awareness. Not just because "she can't be autistic because she makes eye contact and gives hugs" but also for the day to day bullshit...
 
First, I got a lovely email response from the Goofy One's school psychologist. He will be unable to give me a copy of the Goofy Child's evaluation report until after the eligibility meeting. Not cool. So not cool. I made that request in writing. IN WRITING. on paper. with CCs. I put a lot of effort into that request, man, you can't just say oh, yeah, no problem and then change your mind later. So, I wrote an email. and right here is the perfect example of why you should not email while angry, even if you do have an awesome proof reader- I wrote an email. No curse words, no accusations, not even a subtle FU. Pete and Pam would have been proud... Except that I got my facts all mixed up. The message concerning this specific request was spot on, but I mixed up the meetings and which request was filed when in relation to this specific request so then I had to email them back and fix it. There has been no response yet and I am not amused.
 
Then Alex's Mommy asked me to go with her to his sister's meeting on April 1st. That was fun. So much fun. A whole bunch of angry people seated at a table with no one listening to anyone else, most definitely not listening to Mom while at the same time firmly stating that Mom is involved in the process. The SLP getting huffy and saying, "I have nothing else to say here." and getting up to walk away while the psychologist says, "yeah, neither do I." and stands up to walk away as well. How in the hell is school personnel going to get up and walk out of a meeting regarding an IEP without discussing the parents' concerns? Bullshit. Just because you work in a preschool doesn't mean you get to act like it.
 
and then there's this... I've written before about this in *freight train*, I may have been mixed up on Prior Written Notice there, but I wasn't confused on this one: "We just need you to sign this," they said, "it just says you were here for the meeting," they said. Really? 
 
 









and then they get mad when it's read out loud with a questioning look, so I guess it means what I thought it meant.

And then there's this from the principal in response to request for further evaluation... "If her IEP expires, she won't have an IEP and she won't receive services." again, I say bullshit. An IEP does not expire, you can read about IEPs not expiring over at Wrightslaw.

I'm a little down on schools right now. I'm angry, I'm frustrated, I'm fed up. I'm sick of the fighting, sick of the lies, sick of the games, and I'm *firmly* done with the bullshit. So, today I called the lawyer I picked out a few weeks ago to make an appointment for a consultation. Hopefully, there will come a day that the national epidemic of utter bullshit is eradicated, and the services and supports out kids need will be more readily available and schools will be able to meet their needs without an epic battle that leaves both sides pissed off and children caught in the crossfire.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Candle Light Vigil for children who lost their lives after wandering.

"This event is not about placing blame or even to talk about solutions. The sole purpose is to simply remember the children who have died." -Any comments relating to either will be quietly deleted out of respect for these children and their families.

Kaitlin Bacile
Au-Juna Banks-Taylor age 9
Ryan Barrett
Christian Baucom age 6
Jason Baucom
Adam Benhamama
Owen Black age 7
Aiden Bower age 4
Ashley Brock
Noah Burke
Carolyne Burns
Dena Burns age 6
John Burton Jr. age 7
Colum Canning
Kaymania Catt age 5
Alex Christopher 6/3/2005
Zachary Clark
Jeremiah Conn age 6
Holden Cottingham 2013
Taariq Cross age 7
Christian Dejons
James Delorey
David DeSantiago age 11
Devonte Dye age 5
Tatiana Eiland-Clinton age 3
Devine Farrier
Justin Gore Jr.
Darryl Gosein
Anthony Guerra age 9
Tristian Guffey
Liam Hamilton age 7
Elizabeth Hathaway age 10
Savannah Hauser
Benjy Heil
Jack Hensley
Emily Hope
Drew Howell age 2
Tristin Jeras 7/26/2012
Aiden Johnson
Marquail Johnson age 8
Jackson Kastner age 4
Kesia Kearse
Nathan Kinderdine
Michael Kingsbury age 7
Adlai Kugblenu
Anthony Kuznia age 11
Bernard Latimore
Aiden Lawson age 3
Kieran le Couteur
Erik Lippmann
Alexie Loper age 4
Mikaela Lynch 5/15/2013
Charlie Manley age 16
Savannah Martin 2/20/2011
Donivan Martin age 16
Savannah Martin age 7
Jared McGuire
Mason Medlam
Logan Mitcheltree Christopher Morrison age 5
Blake Murrell age 4
Alyvia Navarro age 3
Avonte Oquendo age 14
Dominic Overton
Ariana Pivacheck age 9
Evan Reed 2012
Hannah Ross age 7
Blake Ryan 4/19/2011 age 4
Christina Sankey age 29
Luke Selwyn
Nicholas Shaffer age 12
Kaleb Shavers age 6
Kadeem Shillingford age 15
Jonah Smith
Julian Stacey New Zealand
Aaron Steele
Travis Stratton 3/1/2014 age 4
Kaliya Sullivan
Sean Taglione 1/29/2012 age 12
Desmond Thomas
Kristina Vlassenko age 10
Christopher Wakeman age 23
Amarie Walker age 4
Skyler Wayne
Freddie Williams age 13
Davin Williams age 15
NNR age 5 Bradenton, FL
NNR age 11 Stafford, VA
NNR age 12 Houston, TX