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View Diary: Heart-felt Thanks, an Update on Our Autistic 3rd Grader, and Other Thoughts (92 comments)

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  •  Oh, and I forgot. I'm not planning on suing, (27+ / 0-)

    exactly, even after unearthing all those emails begging for an IEP eval, but what I do want to do, so that this works for other people and not just us:

    I'm going to be very, very clear with the county that I demand--and will back that demand up with a legal case if they force my hand--that their schools understand that they cannot ignore their special needs students like this.

    Not quite sure how to deliver that demand, but it needs to be done.

    •  It's a good thought, but you'll be ignored (13+ / 0-)

      they'll make sympathetic noises, but they won't do anything without a suit filed.

      It's the way they work.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:59:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I honest-to-gosh completely fail to (15+ / 0-)

        grasp is why they wouldn't help. Early on, before she got odder and they got meaner, it would have taken only small, inexpensive accommodations to help. Now they're paying to bus her an hour away, to a teacher/student ration of 2-1 or 3-1, depending on the time of day. Everything is now so much harder than it would have been... I plan on pointing that part out, too. The county cares deeply about money.

        •  paper trail everything.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coquiero, Shuruq

          I think you realize that it very important now.  When you send them a letter, get a return receipt.  When you send an email, get a receipt it was opened.  Print all this up and put it in a binder.  Make two copies of the binder (at a minimum).  Nothing impresses a bureaucrat like a binder that is 2 inches thick.  Put examples of her schoolwork and copies of her tests, and letters from doctors/psychologists.  They lose everything.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:49:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No kidding. Especially when we sat down to figure (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Throw The Bums Out

            out what school supplies she needed and found they'd sent almost nothing home. Not to mention, I found her crayon box filled with crayon bits, and when I asked about them, she nonchalantly told me that when they switch classes and other kids sit in her desk, they go into it and destroy her stuff. WTH.  She then pulled out a ziplock bag of crayons from her bag and showed me that she kept her "real" crayons where no one could get to them. Then, when I went to take a picture of them, she started crying and couldn't stop for... forever. She couldn't sleep last night. Crept into our bed at 3 and just talked her little heart out.  What kind of situation were they running there that a 3rd grader had to keep a decoy crayon box for people to destroy?

            •  Sadly such things (and even worse) appear to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Shuruq

              be getting more and more common in schools nowadays for some reason.  Perhaps it has something to do with how sociopaths are actually looked up to as the "job creators" and such nowadays.

              I will say this, the decoy crayon box was very clever and I would not have expected that level of thinking from a 9 year old.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 04:20:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sigh. You're right, of course. They've (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Throw The Bums Out

                done worse to her, and certainly other kids have endured FAR worse, but it just seems so horribly petty. I think it got to me more because it was just so pointlessly nasty and because she just took it as nothing out of the norm.

                And you're right. I hadn't recognized that her defense really was pretty darned clever. Not sure I should bring it up with her, considering how many tears we had yesterday, but at some point I'll have to let her know that was well done on her part.

                Is it more common, or is it only the red states? I just don't recall this kind of venom from my days in school.

                •  I think it is more a sign of the times though (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Shuruq

                  I guess that schools in blue states are often better at handling it.  I take it you have noticed the general increase in meanness and pettiness over the past several years that really started picking up during and after Bush Jr.  Well that kind of thing rubs off on kids and in fact you might be surprised how many kids have justified their bullying (even when it has resulted in broken bones) with things like "but it's no big deal unless it causes organ failure or death".

                  BTW, I also think that real life violence that is weakly justified with lies by those in power has far more effect on kids than video games and movies.  After all, if the president says it is OK to invade a country and kill tens of thousands or more people (not to mention using torture) on flimsy lies then logically why wouldn't it be ok for them to do so on a much lesser scale?

                  You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                  by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 05:35:50 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good points, all. The Zimmerman case was a huge (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Throw The Bums Out

                    deal to my kids. I tried to keep the news off and just discuss it when asked, but they were so shocked and angry about the whole thing. My older daughter got into a screaming match with a nasty kid on the bus who was laughing about it. I supported her wholeheartedly, though in general I try to tell them that living down here, sometimes it's just best to let people be wrong. She made the right choice that day on when to ignore our general rules.

      •  I think it's possible (18+ / 0-)

        to get their cooperation without taking direct legal action. But they have to know that you'd take that step in a heartbeat if they don't shape up.

        The furthest we've ever had to go in years of advocating for my son was a letter from a very scary law firm- mostly requesting records and info, no direct threat of a lawsuit but the intent was crystal clear. Instant results.

        In the years since then, I've learned to use language that gets their attention- as in, "well if you were to do xyz, I would consider that a violation of my son's human rights". Period. I don't say "I'll sue your ass from here to China", but that's what they hear. And they behave accordingly.

        I've also found that it pays to be calm and appear reasonable most of the time- but when the occasion calls for flipping out, go for it. Make them think that your good behavior depends on their good behavior, and that you'll be the loosest cannon they ever encountered if they don't behave. As a good friend of mine always said "if you can't beat them, confuse them." Works for me anyway.

      •  It just depends. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, Shuruq

        There are good people out there who do what's right. In our area, the County has significant oversight over such matters, and they are separate.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 03:59:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's how it apparently is here. The school (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          was pretty careful not to let us know that, though, and the website is less than helpful. I'd found "special services" emails on it and cc'ed them to my letters to the school over the years, but never saw a response. Now that we're with the right person, I hope, perhaps things will improve. My sunny optimism from yesterday evaporated over the 3am talk with a heartbroken kiddo, but that's probably for the best.

    •  Send it in a letter from an attorney. (26+ / 0-)

      Don't have to say you might sue. All that is needed is to wave the flag of the attorney.

      Our school board is always afraid a parent might sue! They'll do almost anything to avoid that.

        •  Bunch of bullet points (13+ / 0-)

          1. Have a hammer. OK, a tool, a very useful organization focused on legal advocacy.
          2.  Magic words going forward (after you have an IEP) "Out of compliance".  Polite English for when I sue, this is why you'll lose.
          3. When you go to an IEP, never go alone.  We once had 13 on our side.  Now, I am counting school people who were on our side there, as we requested (in writing) their presence. Your daughter has the right to have her advocates present.
          4.  While I am sure that our name still sends shudders in some circles at the administration, we never sued, and mostly were on very good terms with administrators doing negotiations.  We just didn't let them push us around. Your daughter has substantial rights, don't let them ignore them.
          5. IDEA Read it, learn it, love it
          6. The IEP is the legal blueprint for how to interact with your daughter, and as such, it is a living document, so make changes as necessary.

          Finally, we found parents support group to be a god send, if for no other reason we always went away saying, well at least I don't have that to cope with.

          Btw, my boys had birth traumas
          One's IEP listed,  deaf, blind, autistic, with seizures.
          The other language processing issues.

          Good luck!
          The trip will be vastly different then anyone else can understand,  but also, they seldom comprehend the rewards.

          •  my oldest had an auditory processing problem (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gmats, Shuruq, ladybug53

            and the schools were determined (in the big rich district, not the small towns; they put him in the special-ed classes, no questions asked, where he had no more than 14 classmates to cope with and teachers who were tender and careful rather than harried, burned-out and "don't believe in learning disabilities -- that boy's just lazy!" disciplinarians) to put him on ADHD meds.

            We went to nationally-renowned specialists who wrote that such medications would not only not help but likely make the problems worse; they advised us that he would probably outgrow most of the difficulty in adolescence (he lost the severe lisp in fifth grade, and it came back after his sixth-grade teacher began to hold him up as a bad example every day. His fifth-grade teacher had instilled in him a love of learning and an eagerness for school, and his sixth grade teacher killed it deader than a hammer before Thanksgiving. I didn't see any spark back until junior high, and then only for science class and orchestra, where he learnt violin).

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:10:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Medicine. Yes, that's been a hell of an issue (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ladybug53, BlackSheep1

              this year. It's probably part of what went so wrong, but that's probably another tale. I'm sorry to hear about the 6th grade teacher. I just look at my husband, who once gave an entire set of... Magic Treehouse books, I think... to an 8th grader who could barely read. This was in his 1st year teaching in a VERY rural district here in GA. Jefferson County, if anyone knows it. It was way more could afford, and I was mad at the time because he'd chosen to give the whole ridiculously large set. It was as a "loan" to avoid any weirdness, but he told the boy that if he never got it back, that was ok, too. The kid wrote him four years later to say that he'd gotten the Hope Scholarship and would be starting college in the fall. No word in between, just the sudden "and it was all thanks to you" note. He keeps it laminated in his desk for hard days. I have no tolerance for teachers who don't care.

          •  If you see this, will you send me a direct (0+ / 0-)

            link to #5? It doesn't open.

            Thanks.

      •  I agree (9+ / 0-)

        Don't tell them you aren't going to sue, even if you hate the idea of suing.  Let them think you are very willing to sue if they don't fly right.

      •  I was also going to suggest this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53

        The right person to send it to is the director of special education for the district (or the school, if the school has one). And the principal.

        At the end of the day, your daughter's current placement may actually be a good place for her to be. But really, the district should be deciding where she's placed after she has been evaluated and has an IEP. And having the IEP is important because it is part of a process that will include regular evaluation of how she's doing and adjustments to her program and placement if appropriate.

        •  And remember, they can't place her anywhere (0+ / 0-)

          without your permission!

          And you, the parents, have to be part of the committee that makes the decision. As in, they have to set up the date/time of the meeting so you can attend--and bring who you want to the meeting.  (They may push you to agree to having the meeting without you, because blah blah blah can only come at blah blah time, but you do not have to give in.)

          You don't both have to come, but if you want to both come, they have to schedule it when you can come.

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