Thursday, May 21, 2015

Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?

Do I Have to Pick Up My Child with Special Needs Every Time the School Calls?





When your house telephone or cell phone rings between the
hours of 8:00am-4:00pm on school days, does a feeling of panic or dread
overcome you, believing that your child’s school is calling?  If you
answered yes, then you are not alone. That time, when our special needs
children are in school, and out of our sight, makes our imaginations run
rampant. Seeing the name of the school on the Caller ID, makes our
heart stop, and sets our imaginations into overdrive.




Many times the reason for the call is to come collect our child with
special needs because he/she is requesting to leave, the school doesn’t
feel like dealing with them, or he/she doesn’t want to do the
assignments.




Working and non-working parents alike are forced to scurry to school
in the middle of the day to pick up children for issues that the school
could have typically handled internally. These repeated pick-up calls
beg the question as to whether the school can legally require parents to
come get their special needs children before the school day concludes.


It Depends on the Situation

The short answer to the aforementioned question is it depends on the situation.   Your child has the right to attend school. Students can only be kept away from school if they have been officially suspended. 
Further, suspension should always be a last resort.  The schools should
always try different interventions to help your child before resorting
to a suspension.


Question #1: Has he or she been suspended?

The first question to ask when you have been requested to pick up
your child because of behavioral issues is whether he/she has been
suspended.  If he/she has not been officially suspended then he/she
cannot be removed from the school by the administration.




The school, when they call you for a pick-up, in essence, is
requesting that you voluntarily take your child home when there is a
behavioral situation that doesn’t warrant suspension. Schools are
required to provide your child with the necessary supports to benefit
his/her education, and schools must find a way to deal with your child’s
behavior.




If behavior is an on-going issue, then discussions must be had to
find the proper placement for the child.  Schools cannot give you
conditions of attendance or even mention or suggest the use of
medication for your child.


A meeting is required

Again, if behavioral issues related to the disability continue to
persist, the school needs to meet with the parents and IEP Team and
determine the best course of action. School is challenging for special
education students and some would rather be at home than school. These
students quickly learn the behaviors that will get them to be picked up
early and will effectuate those behaviors more frequently.


School is the best place

The best place for a child is in a school setting with other
children. Calling parents for early pick-up is a quick route for schools
not wanting to deal with the underlying issues and causes. School
personnel and professionals have far superior training in dealing with
behavioral issues stemming from disabilities than most parents do.  That
is why school is the best place for your child during the school day.


Federal and State Law Requirements

Most states have enacted laws or regulations requiring that each
student’s school day be a minimum amount of hours per day, per year. 
 Under federal and state law, disabled students must be afforded the
same opportunity to participate in and benefit from instruction and
other education-related services that are equal to those provided to
nondisabled students.   The ironic part is that the school day is being
routinely shortened for students who can least afford it.


The 2 Big Questions to Ask

There are obviously certain situations where you are glad the school
called and you are happy to extricate your child that day from a very
precarious position.  Once in a while is fine.  Daily, weekly, and/or
monthly calls are not acceptable.  When you get the phone call from the
school requesting you pick up your child, immediately ask:


  1. Is he/she being suspended?  
  2. Has he/she been physically injured or harmed?
If the answer from the school to the two above questions is no, you
are not required to come running to the school.  You are not being
callous or un-caring, you merely want your child to be educated like all
the other students in the building.


Early Dismissal

Schools in the past have been cited for the early dismissal of
disabled students.  “Packing up” disabled students early, before school
is dismissed, deprives them of educational benefit and allows for them
to be treated differently than nondisabled students.




There is no basis for shortening the day of an entire classroom of disabled students. When I use the term “early” I do not mean five minutes, it is typically 30-60 minutes early.
Your child is the consumer, don’t let he/she be deprived of valuable
education time because its more convenient to get them packed up early.


Needs still not being Met?

If you have attempted to discuss these concerns with your school’s
administration or IEP team, with no resolve, your next plan of action
should be to file a state or federal complaint.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

He Was Getting Prepared To Defend His Autistic Son, Until The Man In Front Said This.

He Was Getting Prepared To Defend His Autistic Son, Until The Man In Front Said This.



To my utter shame, I found myself losing my temper at my own son. I was embarrassed, and angry, and frustrated, and felt cheated by God for not being able to enjoy a normal vacation with our family because of this damn affliction of my son. And then I realized I was close to losing it too.

I started to wonder what life would be like without having to deal with this cross.

And just as the reactions by the other passengers was becoming most intense, a man seated just in front of me turned around to face me.

I braced myself for his onslaught of advice on how to raise a well-behaved child.

Then he said calmly, "Is he alright?"

I said, "He's autistic."

Then the man said, "It's alright." And he smiled.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Do NOT Let The State of Missouri and Lee's Summit R-VII Steal Your Child's Future

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Do NOT Let The State of Missouri and Lee's Summit R-VII Steal Your Child's Future



I was talking to a friend today and some things came to mind.  Many people want to know why I fight with the school district and the State.  I have earned quite a reputation as a crazy mom.  There are many people that are happy with the education that their children are getting and wonder why I am not.  Well, let me explain it to you.
I have known that my son has autism since he was three years old.  I lived in a very small town in Illinois with the population of 1,200.  I had twin daughters that were 5 years old and were in all day kindergarten.  The town was having testing for children 3-5 years of age.  I thought it was to see where they were academically and what they needed to work on prior to starting kindergarten.  My son was three years old and the only child that I had home during the day.  I signed him up for the testing and took him up to the school.  I wasn’t sure if he would go through it because he was a screamer.  I don’t mean that he screamed every once in awhile.  I mean that he screamed 24/7.  For the first two and a half years of his life he would sleep for 30 minutes and scream for the next two hours.  This went on all of the time.  He didn’t speak or even make noises.  He never said MaMa or DaDa.  He just screamed.  When you tried to hold him he would arch his back.  He never reached for me and even really acknowledged me.  He just screamed.  I had asked the pediatrician and he said boys don’t talk as early as girls and some babies cry more than others.  So, they took him into another room for awhile and when they brought him back they said that if they felt that he needed to start Early Childhood they would call me within a week.  Within three days I received a phone call.  They weren’t sure what his issues were, but the district felt that he "wasn't right" and put him into school.  They didn't know what the problem was, but they were determined to find out and give the best that they had.
This was a town of 1,200 people.  The school district was a combination of two towns with a combined population of 2,000.  Their resources were very limited.  I didn't even know that my child had an issue.  I was blind.  Something that would affect my judgment for the next ten years.
These wonderful people put my son into a classroom of six students and two teachers.  They gave him OT and ST.  They worked on his social skills.  They worked on any issue that came up.  Not because they had to.  He didn't even have an IEP yet.  They did it because they saw a child that needed help to be successful in life.  They treated him like a human being that needed guidance and support.  He was not another drain on their budget.  They had practically no budget.  It didn't matter.  HE mattered.
When he was four they did some educational evaluations.  This was before the internet.  This was before anyone knew anything about autism.  They said that his tests came back with some very odd results.  They said that he was way at one end of the curve on some things and at the other end of the curve on other things.  There was nothing in the middle.  They said that he didn’t make eye contact.  I had never noticed this.  They said that he didn’t play with other children.  That he would only parallel play.  They said that he used dramatic and constructive play, but not interactive play.  He could name colors, count up to 12, and recognized numbers.  He could sequence objects by size and understood concept of big.  He needed a routine and things had to always be the same and if it was not it would throw him off.  He would flap his arms and rock when he became excited.  He couldn’t follow simple instructions.  He displayed a short attention span.  He was very interested in Thomas the Tank Engine and could name every engine, their color, and their number.  He could tell the name of a Disney VHS tape just by the font.   You could lay out the movies, without the box, and he could name the movie just because of the font.  I never even noticed that each movie had a different font.  They took all of this information and started reading.  They found that he exhibited many language, behavior, and socialization characteristics that may indicate a pervasive developmental disorder.  They included:  late talking, limited variety of responses, non-use of greetings, lack of conversation, lack of playing with others, limited eye contact, perseverative language, echolalic language, arm flapping, strange attachment to objects, and an ability to repeat video scripts verbatim.
When my son was five we moved back to Kansas City.  This is where my husband and I were raised.  We carefully called and interviewed every school district on both sides of the state line.  We wanted to make sure that Jake would get the best that Kansas City had to offer.
After several phone calls and interviews we chose Lee's Summit.  I went and told the personnel here that the district in Illinois felt that Jake wasn't ready for regular kindergarten.  They felt that he needed 1 on 1 or small group instruction for at least one more year.  It stated it in his IEP.  Lee's Summit assured me that they were a big district that could handle all of his needs and issues and that the best thing for Jake was going to kindergarten.  Once again, I was blind.
Jake went to Prairie View from kindergarten through sixth grade.  He had some amazing teachers there.  They were kind, supportive, and made accommodations that his IEP didn't call for.  We had no issues there.  I truly felt that we had picked the best school district that we could have.  I volunteered in his classroom every week for at least 2-3 hours.  I helped with the school carnival.  I helped with health fair.  I wrote to the Kansas City Star and told them what an amazing job they were doing with my son. 
I didn't know much about autism and I felt like the district was doing all that Jake needed.  Little did I know that when he got into high school my only hope for him would be living in a group home.  That is where we are now.  On his IEP the district has decided that his transition program would be to live semi-independently.
WHY?  Because the district never addressed his autism.  They didn't address his dysgraphia.  They didn't address his social issues.  They didn't address his written language issues.  Why didn't they?  I didn't demand it.  In seventh grade the only goal he had on his IEP was to be able to write a paragraph.  This is a child with autism, dysgraphia, and a written language deficit.
I thought that you had to believe in the experts and trust them.  That blindness has caused the loss of my son's independence.  If I had educated myself and fought for him, he would have a different future.  His future was stolen and I stood back and let it happen.
I gave the school district a five year old with potential.  They have given back a child that will never leave home.  I let them do this to my child.  My silence and acceptance granted them permission to destroy my son's future.  He could have been an independent taxpaying citizen.  Now he will be a burden on tax payers.  Not to worry, Lee's Summit.  You have no group homes here, so he won't burden your city.
My son dropped out of school on May 11, 2009.  It was his sixteenth birthday.  No longer could I allow them to destroy him physically, mentally, and emotionally.  He was receiving no services and his anxiety level was through the roof.  They were not helping him academically.  His psychologist discovered that he couldn’t multiply or divide.  The district’s answer was that they would allow him to use a calculator.  This is a child with a nonverbal IQ of 137. 
Your children still have a chance.  Your children still have a future.  I pray that none of you ever have to read the following and have it apply to your child.  But, if you continue to sit back and do nothing, you will face the same situation that I face today.  I let the State of Missouri and the Lee's Summit School District steal my son's future.  I will live with that until the day that I die because Jake will be living with me until the day I die.  What will happen to him after that, only God knows.  I pray that you never have to go to bed at night and think about that.
Jake's future goal, according to the school district, is to live semi-independently.