If you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill
My last Teddy post was about the day he tore up his classroom. You can read how he learned to do that here. The story picks up the next day, when I called and left a message for the school system’s Autism Specialist. Teddy’s emotional safety was in jeopardy and we needed help.
I left messages almost daily. She called back…
ONE WEEK LATER.
And when she called, I wasn’t home. This was 1999, before I had a cell phone, so I missed the call and now it was the start of Christmas vacation and I couldn’t call back. Instead, I took a wonderful break from worrying.
On break Teddy displayed none of the behavioral issues he had during school. What a relief it was to see him relax. Damn it hurts to watch your child suffer. I feel for each and every parent who watches their child in physical or emotional distress. It sucks the life right out of you.
Then, as we all know, breaks end. The first day back at school Teddy threw a chair.
We started the new year, the new decade, the new millennium EXACTLY how we ended the last year, the last decade, the old millennium.
2000 began with me on the phone, once again leaving messages for the Autism Specialist. I was desperate to schedule an IEP meeting, to get everyone together and help Teddy.
When my messages weren’t returned, I called the next person in the chain of command, the Assistant Director of Special Education. When I told her I wanted to request an IEP meeting to do a Functional Behavioral Analysis and Individualized Behavior Management Plan she asked, and I quote,
Has it been determined yet if Teddy is in his current placement because of behavioral reasons?
For OVER A YEAR nothing but Teddy’s behavioral issues had been discussed.
For OVER A YEAR the school system insisted he, A CHILD WITH AUTISM, be removed from the general education environment and be placed in an EMOTIONALLY CONFLICTED setting because of HIS BEHAVIOR.
For OVER A YEAR the school system insisted this placement was the best setting for him to “learn how to behave.”
Was she thinking I put my kid in an EC classroom for the kicks?
This woman could not hear what I was telling her. She could not hear the problems my child was having. She could not hear how completely inappropriate Teddy’s setting was. SHE COULD HEAR NOTHING. Her only response was to throw an obstacle in the way of helping my child.
Is that what they teach in Ed school?
Has it been determined yet???
The Assistant Director of Special Education had NOT A CLUE.
She was the first one to suggest the placement because of his behavior. She scheduled our EC classroom tour. And she attended the series of IEP meetings that led to this moment.
Just how STUPID was this woman? And just how many of our tax dollars was she paid to be COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT?
Moreover, never once did she, or any other school personnel feel the slightest bit RESPONSIBLE. There was ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY for this fucked up situation. None.
And three more weeks passed until I received notice that a meeting was scheduled for February 10th, six weeks after my initial request. Six weeks… the number of weeks Teddy was originally to be in the EC room before being returned to a mainstreamed 3rd grade class.
By the time February 10th and the IEP meeting came, Teddy had been out of school for a week. I refused to send him to school anymore.
We had the meeting… but, officially, we didn’t have a meeting.
This is the cast of characters I met with that day… Teddy’s EC teacher said she didn’t know why we were there. The principal didn’t know Teddy was out of school and they hadn’t arranged an LEA to be present, so I was told we couldn’t have a meeting.
Hell no was my response. It took six weeks, well, six weeks and four months to get to this moment and I wasn’t going to let it pass without making it very clear that I was now demanding Teddy be returned to the general education classroom with an aide. I made it clear this was Teddy’s wish as well.
The only comment the principal made was that she didn’t think she would have an aide available and to get one would mean she might have to take an aide away from another child.
I told them that wasn’t going to happen. Another child’s services WOULD NOT be touched. They were going to have to do whatever they needed to do to help Ted and if I had to, I would call an attorney to make it happen.
“Oh, you don’t need to do that. We all agree he needs an aide.” I was told.
So Teddy returned to the EC room on Monday, February 14 with the understanding plans were being made to get an aide and place him back in the general ed classroom.
On Tuesday, February 22, 12 days after our meeting, the EC teacher called me to say Ted had gotten upset from the loud room. He had been in the time out booth screaming for everyone to be quiet, he left the booth still screaming, she grabbed his arm, hard, and left marks on it. Finally after 40 minutes he fell asleep. He then wet himself while he was sleeping and was sent home on the bus in his soiled clothes.
My eight year old child was so upset he had a bladder accident and then had to walk through school with wet clothes to get on the bus.
That was it.
All of my patience. All of my good will. All of my optimism was gone. It was used up. I was empty.
I was finished with her. Finished with all of them.
I hung up and called an attorney.
Next: The paperwork for Teddy v. County Board of Education is filed.