Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 15, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 18, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Wrench in Weston's IEP

As you all know, Weston was accepted at the technical school.

After years of Weston struggling to be "seen" in the public school, we were all very excited about his participation in an exciting and perhaps more appropriate direction.

That is until yesterday.

Yesterday was Weston's IEP transition process. This is a meeting that is held for the student, parents, current school staff and new school staff. It is a time for the previous school to communicate to the new school, all of the accommodations and supports needed to ensure Weston will be successful in his new environment. It is a chance for the new school to really get to know Weston.

Last week, I met with Weston's current special education team. We designed an outline of the important "Weston" points we wanted to highlight in educating this new school. We agreed that the staff should present this outline to the new school.

We were prepared.

We were ready.

We were excited.

We did not know the technical school would be sending a henchman.

On Friday, one very arrogant woman from the technical school arrived at our meeting. She proceeded to dictate to all of us, what Weston's school experience would look like. She did not ask any questions about Weston and what he may need from her school. The IEP was completely ignored. Weston's teachers, who have known him for three years were not given an opportunity to speak. She left the meeting with absolutely no idea of Weston's social, emotional and educational profile. It was by far, the worst IEP meeting I have ever attended.

After over an hour of listening to this thug, I finally interrupted her to tell her she needed to stop speaking. I told her that I was disappointed that we did not have a chance to discuss Weston's profile and accommodations. I feared that this may not be the right environment for Weston. Unfortunately for her, I am well versed in the "intimidation factor" that occurs at many an IEP meeting and perhaps one of the few brave souls, who is not willing to let a bold approach supersede my son's need for support.

I went home and immediately called the new school and asked to speak with the Special Needs Director. I was connected instead to the henchman. I asked her if she was the SPED Director? She said she was not. I told her I did not want to speak with her, I told her I wanted instead to speak with the Director. She immediately began to backpedal, explaining how she may be able to provide some accommodations. I told her again, I needed to speak with the Director.

I was finally connected.

I introduced myself and requested a meeting with her next week.

I am scheduled to see her on Thursday at 10:30 am.

I am beside myself. This is not a good start to a new school experience for Weston. Once again, I find myself needing to don my armor and advocate like a warrior for a son who does not receive the respect, understanding and support he deserves.

As a parent of two children diagnosed with special needs, I am all too familiar with this scenario.

Weston, unfortunately, was traumatized by the behavior of this unruly woman and now does not want to attend this school. We will need to perform some major damage control to help improve his peace of mind if he does end up enrolled in this technical school.

I have spent much, if not all of Weston's school years desperately trying to protect his fragile self esteem. I am not about to stop now.

If my meeting does not go well with the SPED Director of this new school, Weston will be stuck at the public high school, a school designed for students who are seeking to enter college. There is no suitable program for a child like Weston who is seeking to enter a trade. He will most likely end up wasting yet another year of school while we determine where he goes next.

We have a long way to go as a society to see children diagnosed with special needs receive the respect, understanding and support they are entitled to receive.

I am one angry mother.

p.s. My comments are still not operational, another battle I now need to follow through....if you would like to respond to this post, you may email me at jalape04ATcomcastDOTnet.