Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Autism Mom is out for blood again.

Just in case the title wasn't a clear enough hint, I'm more than a little livid right now.

I just got a phone call from the Special Ed Case Manager at Wyatts school. In spite of the fact that his father and I have already had 3 (THREE) IEP meetings this school year (2 of them to address the fact that appropriate supports were not in place in the classroom for Wy), his grades have started slipping again, and his teachers have asked for a meeting.

Now - ALL of his teachers have my e-mail and phone number, and Wyatts father talks to his classroom teachers when he picks Wy up from school on his weeks. Neither one of us has had any notification that he wasn't doing well.

None, nada, bupkus.

I just checked the school website, and from what I can see, the thing that's bringing his grades down is not homework, it's class work.

That's right, the work he does in the classroom, with a teacher, and an aide that's assigned to him right there. The teaching assistant that's supposed to be helping him take notes for science hasn't been going every day, despite the fact that his IEP says that's what he's supposed to have. The same thing is happening with Language Arts. Classroom work isn't getting finished, even though he is supposed to have someone working with him in each class. How does work not get finished when there's an aide sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIM?! It's not the homework that's dropping the grades, his father and I make sure that gets done, it's what's going on in the classroom.

After the last round of IEP meetings, when we finally got the supports in place and followed, he brought home a report card full of A's and B's. The only bad grade he had was in science, and that, we later found out, was because the school had not been sending an aide to the class with him, he'd been left on his own. The other piece of info that came to light was the fact that of all of his core subject teachers, only 1 had any experience working with autistic children.

I had actually offered to come to the school, and do a workshop with his teachers, to help them understand what his being autistic means in terms of his educational needs. I was told "Oh yes, please, that would be fantastic!" Never heard another word from the school about it.

The only one of his teachers that's actually contacted me is the Special Ed teacher he goes to for 1 period a day. She just called a minute ago, after getting an e-mail telling her about the meeting request from his classroom teachers. She's just as upset as I am - Wy has an A in her class. She said she looked over the same info I did, and came to the same conclusion - the problem is in the classroom, and there's no excuse for it. We talked about the possibility of maybe cutting back on some of the inclusion programing, to give Wy some time to catch up, which is an option, but for me the bottom line is that whatever is going on, or not going on in the classroom needs to be fixed.

Wyatt and I have worked SO hard to get him to the point of full inclusion. He's more than capable of doing the work, and he loves being in the regular classrooms. He's made friends, he comes home smiling every day. I hate the thought of having to drop back on that, and having him feel like he's failed in some way when the reality is that the school is failing him by not meeting his needs. It frustrates the hell out of me.

The hard part (and I've been saying this for years), is that BECAUSE he's so high functioning it's easy for people to forget that he is still autistic. He still has sensory input and processing issues, he still can either listen to the teacher or look at her, but not both at the same time, he still hears background noise at the same volume as what he's supposed to be focusing on, and if a train goes past the school forget it, you've lost him.

I've had some ugly IEP meetings in the past (Ramona knows, she was there for a few of them!), and this time I'm going in armed for bear.


  1. Pegalish - If you want I can ask my sister if she has any words of wisdom for you. She is on the board of a high profile charity in NYC dedicated to getting students the supports they need from their school programs, even if the schools are kicking and screaming about it. There are some VERY powerful folks there, and she may be able to provide some sources for you. (Jeni/Gwenne)

  2. Jeni that would be great! Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

  3. Hi Pegalish!
    REALLY enjoy your blog. We have a lot of resources on Autism at BrainPhysics.com and Psyweb.com. Would absolutely love to collaborate with you in some way. How can I contact you via e-mail? Mine is lauren@deepdivemedia.net if you'd like to reach out yourself.

  4. Lauren - I've sent you an e-mail, yes, I'd be very interested in a collaboration! In addition to parenting a son with autism I'm also an RN and work in the behavioral health field.