*Encouragement is the best medicine to give someone. If I were to pick any gift to have in helping others, that would be the one*

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Advocating for Your Aspergers Kid

Chaz (standing) with his younger brother Ryan
Chaz has gone through several school sadly because we couldn't find teachers that would work with him.

His first school was a traditional academy.  He was kicked out after 2 days because he bit his teacher and kicked another the next day.

His second school was the one that alerted me to get him tested for Aspergers.  Since we were getting a house built quite far from there, we knew we weren't going to stay there long.  In fact, they requested he attend a certain school that could help him.  It was a self contained classroom.  It was THE WORST year we ever experienced.  The teacher insisted that I get him on meds and said Aspergers doesn't exist.  They called me almost every day about behavior issues and when they have to call, you are then required to come in and sign a paper.  I came in an awful lot that year.  I was shocked by behaviors that I didn't see at home such as swearing and throwing tables and chairs in the classroom.  Often he was pinned on the floor by workers.

(Chaz is sitting next to me as I write and he said "Oh my gosh, I did that?" He's gotta a big smile on his face reading over my shoulder. He doesn't have memory of any of this.)

The third school is where I met the angel teacher.  She saw the weariness in my eyes and assured me that she worked with Aspergers kids for 3 years in New York.  For the first time I felt some hope.  I felt like weeping in her arms.  She didn't call me every day to come into the school. She helped my son go from rolling on the floor to sitting calmly in his chair.  Sigh.  She's my angel and I'm forever grateful to her.  Unfortunately once he was out of her grade and she left the school, our experience turned sour.  

I homeschooled him for a year and he did really well. We were not able to find any schools with high ratings around our new house that was built. 

I was excited when I finally discovered one next to me that was hidden. It had high ratings so we thought we'd give it a try. I enrolled Chaz with my 2 other boys.  I was ecstatic that is was only a couple of blocks away from our house.  It soon turned sour when I discovered that Chaz was getting bullied very badly and the teacher was no different.  I had a bad feeling of the place after a few months and I was treated by the staff as if I had no rights to ask any questions.  I asked to visit his classroom and they said I had to make an appointment for 3 weeks in advance.  Chaz's behavior regressed since being in this school and I was back to where we started.  He was not learning and was getting bruises from throwing his body around.  Then the school decided to call CPS on us without ever asking us any questions.  3 months of investigations later, the state immensely apologized and said the school did not follow procedure.  They apologized over and over and said we had a great family and that they could offer us services because of everything they put us through.  I said "no thank you".  I wanted to just forget about all of it.  It was a very scary time for us.  To top it all off, we did not find out till the end of the year that Chaz did not get to sit in on the classroom.  His desk was placed out in the hallway every single day and was forced to just listen to his teacher rather than be a part of the group. I was horrified!  A year of school and this was hidden from me. My son never told me but that explained why he was being called a freak and kids refused to play with him.  My heart was utterly broken for my son.  

Once again I pulled him out and homeschooled him.  I would rather keep him at home than make him go through that ever again.  His self esteem was at an all time low and he threatened to hurt himself constantly.  He was crying a lot.  After a year of homeschooling, his confidence built back up, it was time to start looking for a school that would work with him and he was in need of an updated IEP plan.  

A friend alerted me to a Charter school that wasn't very close but a very good school.  THIS TIME, with bad experiences under my belt, I was gonna be the one to ask them questions.  I asked for a meeting with them.  I asked them what they could do for my son.  After all, he is on an IEP plan and they would be getting extra funding. I knew they were in need of enrollments since they were a charter school.  I told them that if they could work with me, communicate with me, have meetings on progress for Chaz, that I would enroll 4 of my children there.  The teachers were my angels.  I told the teacher it would be tough at first and that Chaz is gonna test her.  He given a teacher that was willing to learn.  It was a rough start as she had never worked with an Aspergers kid. But she would call me on a daily basis if needed and ask questions.  She was wonderful.  I could tell at times she was overwhelmed but she never gave up on my son.

AND...I had finally learned how to advocate for my Aspergers son.  Enough was enough and it took till he was 9 years old to figure that out.  I wish in the beginning I knew what I know now but it's never too late.  I didn't know of Aspergers groups or websites.  I just read and read and read to learn as much as possible.  Experiences taught me the most.  

Don't be afraid to stand with confidence in the school for your child.  Yes, they do get extra funding if your child is on an IEP plan so they need to actually work with your child and you.  I've finally learned not to be intimidated.  I know what my son needs.  Since I've learned to do this, Chaz got the teacher he needed, his confidence is soaring, and his grades are excelling.  I realized that all those times before I had been bullied and because I didn't have the knowledge or support I needed.  

But I want you to know that you do have support.  Many of us moms are learning to stand up and and fight for what our kids need.  You are not alone.  If you don't know where to start, feel free to write on our Aspergers Moms wall on Facebook.  You will find that there are many moms that have fought that fight or are going through it right now.  

If you want to learn how to be your child's advocate, here is an excellent article on the topic:

Advocating for Your Aspergers Kid

1 comment:

Accidental Expert said...

Very nice post. I went through a very similar process with my kids. At first I accepted very bad situations. Then I learned to advocate.

My kids will also be going to a charter school next year. It is by far the most accepting and helpful environment for them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...