Our son recently completed an O.S.S for dislocating his teacher's knee.
Of course, autism is no excuse, and I do not seek to excuse his behavior. He understands that what he did is wrong. He was saddened and distressed when I explained why he could not attend school last week, and apologized to his teacher on Monday.
The educational side of the school understands this, and says they will not hold his actions against him. The only reason an O.S.S was given was because the teacher had to go to the doctor for the injury. Again, I have no issue with this. Andrew understands what he did is wrong.
However, I believe the fault lies mainly with the school's Special Services Department, and I will explain why after the fold.
When Andrew was first admitted to school, the SSD assured us that they would get him assessed for what was (to us) obviously autism. Three weeks later, the results were in; Touchpoint had allegedly come in and "ruled out Autism", preferring instead to label it a "Sound System Disorder". Andrew was, at that time, functionally mute.
My wife has a doctorate in Psychology; she has the education to know that "Sound System Disorder" is 100% meaningless. It's akin to diagnosing spina bifida as a "walking system disorder", or PTSD as a "worrying disorder". In one sense it describes a symptom of the disorder, but in no way has any explanatory power in treating the problem.
Still, we went along with it, mindful that an educational diagnosis would be different from a psychological one. And Andrew progressed, improved, made huge strides.
In December, my wife and I finally obtained a medical diagnosis of what we expected all along; Autism Spectrum Disorder. We duly passed it along to the school and they did precisely; nothing.
The IEP was not amended. The paras assigned him received no special instruction. Nothing. All that happened was a rider on his IEP saying that his primary diagnosis was now ASD, but they still stood by the (now secondary) diagnosis of "Sound System Disorder"
Worse still, when we contacted Touchpoint to arrange a formal assessment for the summer, they had no knowledge of Andrew at all. They had never assessed him at any point. The school, basically, lied to us.
Worse still, the attitude of the paras and staff has changed since getting he formal diagnosis. They became more standoffish, more distant. Instead of animatedly discussing Andrew's day with us and him when we collected him from school they shoved him towards us with a muttered "here; bye."
What the hell is going on?
Then Andrew's grandmother died. Naturally, he began to act out; pushing, yelling, hitting. And their solution? Again, do nothing. Let it fester until it erupted in the kicking incident.
At the last IEP meeting on Monday, the staff assured us they would give Andrew a "dedicated" para for 100% of his school hours; we're waiting to see if this happens.
Andrew is smart, sensitive and kind. He only resorts to pushing if you are in his bubble or he feels unwell or threatened. We simply don't know what's going on with him at school, but it seems that the SSD at his school is so concerned with championing him as their poster-child for "most improved" (as they actually do; every time State regulators come, they trot him out as their standard-bearer), his actual care is suffering.
We don't want to damage our relationship with the school, and we are pursuing other avenues (including sending him to the local Catholic School who have already assured us they will be able to get all the resources he needs through the Knights of Columbus and the Diocese), but 'till then, it seems Andrew is stuck, as with so much in his life, in a situation not of his making.
The point of this diary? A rant, perhaps. Or another tale to add to the woeful state of Special Education in this country. Take your pick. It seems the list of victims is increasing, and God help me, Andrew will not be one of them.