Monday, December 13, 2010

What Happens When Part of the Solution Becomes Part of the Problem?

Since my last entry on this blog, I’ve run into all kinds of “situations”.  At the last full CSE meeting on Nov 4th, a concession was reached that my son would receive the benefit of the O/T being trained in Handwriting Without Tears.   I was told training would “likely” take place in the early part of the New Year.   In addition, my son is prescribed weekly O/T at the total rate of 120 minutes per week.  This is broken down to, two 30 minute sessions and one, 20 minute session.  As a result, my son sees the O/T three times each week.  Why is this?  According to the O/T, she is contracted for only 30 minute sessions – not 40.   I requested to have the HWT training written into my son’s IEP and the chair refused stating it is not a requirement.  Really?  At this writing, I don’t know exactly when the O/T will be officially trained and applying it in my son’s program.  A side note, I was advised by legal counsel to request the training written into the IEP.  Later on, I will have more to write on my recent experiences with legal advice and things related.

Below is a sample of my son’s writing from a recent homework assignment.  I wrote in his name and the date at the top of the page.  I do this for him everyday and as a way for me to keep track of my son’s day to day progress.  Just to let you know, my son continues to have difficulty writing the date in the proper format.  He is in the 3rd grade.



Basically, he had to divide 3 columns and show one, two and three syllable words in each.  He is making some progress  but he still  hasn’t mastered the concept.   The above sample is a typical example of my son’s homework. I’m often told, he does much better at school.  It’s troubling to hear my son performs well at school yet can’t demonstrate the same level of ability at home.  If this is the case and the district sees no problem with it, they need to be on notice that this does NOT demonstrate they’re preparing Aren for further education as defined under IDEA.  If my child can’t successfully show ability outside of a controlled classroom environment, one can infer the lesson has not been well learned and/or taught.  This is a big problem that will only get worse as my son progresses in school  if not corrected

Although I got the accommodation it comes at no small price.  Aren misses out on time otherwise spent on academics as according to the district chair.  In earnest, I tried to remedy this problem by requesting my son receive an extended day.  Aren continues to struggle in math and needs support and tutoring in this area.  At first, I was given the stock answer, “we don’t do that”.  And, “we don’t have resources to provide an extended day”.   I pushed back by restating “the district will not make the accommodation”.  I was recording the meeting as every parent should have an audio record.  Finally, the chair offered to provide before school tutoring but not after school.  The reason:  “we don’t have teachers for after school.”  So, I’m to accept teachers are only available in the morning prior to the start of the regular day but not after it.  Hmmmm.  Is this because it’s in the district’s best interest and not my son?   A before school program would require my 8 year old son to wake an hour earlier to ride the bus with the middle and high school students.  This would be sort of okay if I didn’t care that my child would get less sleep and be exposed to poor models.  For example, teenagers discussing in graphic detail their sexual exploits and the “educated” application of condoms.  Only recently, Aren told me, a H.S. student who had to ride the afternoon elementary school bus proceeded to walk on the bus and blurted out, “these fucking little kids”.  (I will not censor my words but tell it just like it is.)  Of course, I expressed my concern to the H.S. principal and the superintendent about the incident.  In giving the district credit for their swift response to my concern, the H.S. student in question was disciplined for his behavior by being banned from the buses for approximately 2 weeks.  I learned this from my children – not the district.

The other piece from the December 8th homework assignment was 2 digit subtraction.   Aren continues to struggle with math.  He has difficulty with abstract concepts due to his disability.  Here is how my son responded to his homework assignment:


You can see I wrote a note asking who is helping Aren with math.  I’ve yet to receive a response.  Maybe it will come home today.  Time will tell.

I want my readers to know upon receipt of the recently revised IEP, the district unilaterally removed PDD-NOS under the alerts section.  This appears to come about after I requested that Autism be placed in alerts.  Although I have compelling physician reports, this district refuses to acknowledge my son is on the spectrum.  They have decided to make their own diagnosis and completely disregard all the documents put forth to them.   I made the request for the Autism alert after receiving legal counsel.

I know I keep alluding to feedback from a lawyer.  I have in fact, taken my concerns to an attorney.  That will have to be for another post.  I keep hoping things will turn around but how long can I wait for my son’s sake?  Aren knows he is struggling.  He told me last week he doesn’t feel good about it.  It is heartbreaking.  My efforts are met with huge boulders in my path to getting his educational needs appropriately met in this district.  And, it comes from all sides not just one.

What do I do?  Do I accept what the special education teacher insists that my son is “slow to learn?”  Would you accept it?  The school psychologist back in June and right up to the October 6th meeting wanted to classify my son as MR although he isn’t.  There are no physician examinations, tests or reports that conclusively confirm an MR diagnosis.  An MR classification only serves to justify the district’s point of view, agenda and nothing more.   If they label my son as MR and therefore slow to learn, it’s basically Aren’s fault – a blame the victim mentality.   It in effect relieves the district of putting more effort and resources into my son’s education so that he is minimally working at the same level as his non-disabled peers.  The district seems content that my son is working a year plus behind his non-disabled peers.   I do have however, many documents that show a diagnosis of a child that is on the Autism spectrum.  Copies of these documents are in the school records.

Finally,  the district backed off of MR and are satisfied maintaining OHI – Other Health Impaired yet doctors have asserted it doesn’t accurately define my son’s disability.  I believe the OHI classification aids the district by relieving expectations and accountability.  It’s a bit of a quagmire don’t you think?  It seems I have only two choices:  acceptance or due process.

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”  ~ Sir Josiah Stamp ~