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Crossposted at my blog: Mama's Blog @

I write about my daughter, Ellie, from time to time here on Daily Kos.  She's almost fourteen and autistic.  She's what some people would call "low functioning", but I prefer to call her, "Kick Ass Awesome".  She is a talented artist and is very clever with technology.  With some care and additional training, which will not be easy to accomplish because of her autism, but is nevertheless quite possible with a little creativity and perseverance, she just might become an adult with an independent source of income.  She is so much more than she appears to be at first glance, and so on certain issues I get a little hot under the collar.

Vocational Education for autistic youth is one of those issues.  It's come up again because someone on a Yahoo group I belong to is dealing with the same issue, and it made me "The Cray-Cray" when I read her post.  Here's what I think, below the Puffy Orange Cloud of Progressive Activism...

I’ve talked about this issue before, and I’m going to talk about it again.  It probably won’t be the last time, either.  So if you feel like what I hope will be a righteous rant, read on.  But my feelings will not be hurt if you go watch puppy videos instead.

I’m part of yahoo group concerning autism.  A post was written recently regarding a woman’s 14 year old autistic son’s vocational education.  I got the sense that he is in a LID (Low Incidence Disability, basically the kids who need more intervention) classroom just like Ellie.  Her son was wiping down tables as part of his “vocational” education at school, essentially cleaning up after his typical peers had lunch.  He hated the job and neither she nor her son saw any educational value in the activity.  She wanted to know what others thought.

I became like those cartoon characters who turn very red and steam begins to shoot out of their ears.  A train whistle popped out of the top of my head and began shrieking loudly.

I feel strongly about this issue.  Not because I think anyone is too good for custodial work.  There is nothing inherently wrong, and in fact, there are many things inherently right with wiping down tables and emptying garbage.  Every good person on earth should do these activities with some regularity.  Ellie included.  My other children included.  Me included.


Such activities do not occur in a vacuum.  You must consider, and I insist that educators consider, how these kinds of “vocational training” activities appear to the typical peers that are watching them happen.  What negative stereotypes are being reenforced?  If typical peers watch Ellie wipe down a table every day after lunch, looking very “disabled”, they would have NO IDEA of all the talents, all the smarts, all the humor locked behind that “disabled” exterior wiping down tables.  These students have very little interaction with the LID students.  If they watch Ellie wiping down tables and nothing else, what conclusions do they draw about autism and disabilities in general?

If educators truly believe that wiping tables and emptying garbage are vocational activities that will provide benefit to my daughter, the entire program needs to change to provide other venues for typical students and SPED students to interact.  There has to be some balance to the unavoidable perception that SPED students are only good for custodial work.  Make it a peer program and I might, might agree to it.  Make a show of Ellie’s other talents so her peers get a balanced view of what Ellie is capable of, and maybe I’ll reconsider my stance.

But the second, equally important question that has to be answered for every SPED student is, “What is this student’s vocation?”  How can you offer vocational training to a child without first probing to find out what their skills and interests are?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a hundred million times if necessary.  Ellie already has a vocation.  It is clear and in all our faces and obvious to all but the intentionally obtuse.  Now, if you are an educator and don’t want to deal with the problem of how to educate an autistic girl in her unconventional vocation, then I can kind of see why you might want to be intentionally obtuse.  I’m not saying that Ellie’s vocation will be easy to provide training for.  It’s uncharted territory and it will be a bumpy road.

I’m not asking for the educational system to provide flawless, perfected art and computer training to my autistic daughter.  I AM asking for them to say, “We see the need and we will do our best to find a way.  It might not be perfect but we’re going to do our damndest to make it work as best we can.”

What I do not want to hear is, “But this is what we do.”  I don’t care how it’s been done before, I don’t care if it’s worked for others.  I don’t care if other parents are ok with it.  I.  Just.  Don’t.  Care.


Originally posted to coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 10:48 AM PST.

Also republished by Parenting on the Autism Spectrum, KosAbility, and Community Spotlight.


Do you think that SPED student's interests and skills should be taken into account when planning their vocational education?

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Comment Preferences

  •  It reinforces negative stereotypes (32+ / 0-)

    If ALL the kids were forced to wipe down tables after lunch that would be one thing, but having only a select few do it reinforces a stereotype.  

    It seems to me that the education system is a little afraid of  training autistic spectrum children. My cousin, for example, is autistic.  He is 38 and still lives with my aunt and uncle because he doesn't function in what would be considered "socially acceptable" ways and he frightens people.  However, Chad can do complicated math in his head, he can look at a pile of wood and tell you where each piece needs to go in order to build a solid house (his father, my uncle, is a contractor) and he can tell you the precise date AND time an event occurred, it's incredible.

    Back to my point: if our current education system gave people like Chad, or your daughter, the vocational training suited to their talents and abilities, they might find them outscoring and doing better than those they consider "normal"... it would shake up their worldview, and they have no way of dealing with that.  


    The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. -Charles de Montesquieu

    by dawgflyer13 on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:00:08 AM PST

    •  That's exactly right, dawgflyer13 (20+ / 0-)

      Can anyone say that the kind of engineering knowledge necessary to build a house can't go to good use somewhere?

      If people saw autistic adults more, out and about, and got to know them, guess what?  They wouldn't be frightened.

      The general populace needs education about autism as desperately as autistic young people need it for their vocation.

      We take Ellie with us everywhere.  If people don't like it they can bite me.  Most people are understanding.  She can make funny noises sometimes and act a little unpredictable, but when people stare, I explain.

      That's my job as a mom.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:10:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Is there a way to apply Chad's talents so he (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      can have some kind of independent life?

      If he's 38 his parents are no spring chickens.  What is his future?  Do they have money put away in a trust for him or will he be thrown out on his own one day soon?

      If the best he can do in society on his own, despite his talents, is to clean off tables is he better off with training and a job as a janitor or is he better off one day being on his own with nothing?

      There are some amazingly innovative things going on with companies trying to utilize the special talents of autistic people - see for example - but there is also no question that there are many people whose talents cannot be utilized or who do not have such talents and getting them into janitorial jobs is better than nothing.

      •  Thanks for your comment, Beelzebubs (0+ / 0-)

        in my experience, most parents of children with special needs, especially adult children, think about nothing but the issues you listed.  Day and night, usually losing sleep over it.  If Chad is still living with his parents at 38, there's probably a good reason for it.  Lack of available housing, being turned away from what is available for behavioral reasons, or lack of resources might be a few reasons.

        Not many would disagree with you that janitorial work is better than nothing for those that can do it.  My daughter is not suited for it for a variety of reasons, yet she has other skills that she could use in employment.  I'd like to see the schools foster those talents and quit telling us that janitorial work is appropriate for all.  It's not.  

        As to, that is one organization in europe that offers employment to high functioning autistic people.  There are a few US based ones, as well, with thousands upon thousands of autistic adults trying to get work with them.  I'm not joking.  

        I appreciate your well meaning comments, but I'm just trying to give you some perspective of what it's like on the other side of that story.

        I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

        by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:59:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Is the school asking your daughter to do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          janitorial work?

          Your diary appears to be about another student and you do not discuss what his potential for other work might be.

          I agree with you about companies like Specialisterne - both their value and the fact that there is not enough.  (BTW, they are also operating in the US.)

        •  BTW, I clicked through to your daughter's work (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (For those reading this diary, it's actually worth looking at.  Click through on Coquiero's signature.)

          I was impressed, especially by the animated films - it takes a lot of time and work to do something like that and few 13 year olds have the focus to do it even if they have the artistic talent.  The sculptures were also really cool, although I am not sure how unusual that kind of stuff is for a 13 year old.

          I hope you are able to find a way for her to make use of her talents as she goes forward in life.  

          Since she is apparently able to work well with computers, getting her some professional animation software, especially if you can get it donated, might be worthwhile and also some advice from someone who knows this stuff better than I do to find out if she is talented enough to have real potential.

          •  Thank you, we'll find a way for her to (0+ / 0-)

            use her talents in some way to make a little money.

            Besides the animation and sculpture, people have recommended looking into cake decorating, which I think she would really love.  Fondant is a lot like clay.

            Right now she uses very cheap animation software from Aardman Studios which is amazing.  Very professional results, easy to use.  She loves it.

            I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

            by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:19:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cool idea on the cake decoration (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              coquiero, second alto

              Maybe see how she does on things like ice sculptures - there is probably more room for creativity there, and I'm guessing that it's hard to get Ellie to make exactly what you want, so decorations for a kid's birthday cake may not be her thing.

              •  Yeah, it's the problem with her art, too (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                second alto

                I'm really hoping that with age and maturity (she's only 14, after all), will come the understanding that sometimes she's doing this work for someone else's benefit.  It's a tricky concept, but she's maturing so much lately that I think she'll get it.

                She's come a LONG way in the past few years.  It's small changes but very significant ones, like the shell of autism over her has cracked just a little and we're able to access her more.  I really think in a few more years that we'll be able to introduce her to someone and tell her that this person wants her to make a cake with Mickey Mouse on it, and she'll understand that means that someone else will be celebrating with the cake.

                Ice sculptures!  Never thought of that one...  :)

                I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

                by coquiero on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:51:24 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  first, in Ca, it's is mandated that there is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        adult day programs for the disabled.  Often in these programs there is a vocational component.  This is something that should be looked at for other states.  My multidisabled son is 23, and has a day program, and full time staff to support him in his home.  Because of this, we feel we cannot move while this is only true of Ca.

        this son is rather on the severed side of disabled side, being deaf, autistic, epileptic, with various neurologic issues, poor muscle tone, and developmental issues.  He has done work stocking at Joanne's but that was on a 4 or 5 hour a week basis.  
        (his twin is much more mildly disable)

        •  We may end up back in CA soon, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          second alto

          so this is interesting information.

          So, may I ask, does your son live outside your home?  That's pretty great that he's able to do that.

          I'd love to hear more about adult programs for the disabled in CA, if you don't mind sending me a kosmail.

          I'm reading a book called Far From the Tree right now about the difficulties of raising a child who is very different from you.  There are chapters on various ways that children turn out different from their parents, some disabilities, some not.

          The author, Andrew Solomon, goes very in depth in each chapter.  The one about raising deaf children was so interesting.

          Having multiple disabilities must be challenging.  Glad to hear you're feeling supported in CA.

          I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

          by coquiero on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:56:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's not just SPED kids who need and benefit (28+ / 0-)

    from Voc Ed....most schools I know of have killed their shop programs...where are tomorrows auto technicians and carpenters and plumbers and electricians and such to come from?

    All good well paying careers that allow a middle class income and lifestyle in jobs that can not be outsourced.....yet we still push everyone to college whether it will benefit them in the long run or not.

    We need shop classes restored and for community colleges to focus more on things like auto repair which is an extremely technical job any more and wood shop to produce our next generation of builders etc....Here, PCC has a Airframe Technician and sheet metal tech courses to support the big aviation retrofit business' here like Evergreen Aviation and Bombardier.....

    Voc Ed is, for some, their only hope of a decent lifestyle yet we just fail them out to the ranks of mcdonalds workers....

    My Techs at Benz earned well over a 100k a year.....

    Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
    I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
    Emiliano Zapata

    by buddabelly on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:06:46 AM PST

  •  It's called a "meta-message." The implications (14+ / 0-)

    and perceptions that come along for a free ride whenever we communicate anything.  When and where and how something is said is just as important as what is said.  

    Earlier this year my son's behavior class was moved to a multi-purpose room.  It had no windows, no carpet, no water, and it was smaller and way down a hallway away from any other classrooms.  It was as different from a regular classroom as you could get.

    Like you, I blew a gasket.  

    Our kids already are plagued with a multitude of "issues" that separate them from their peers.  The last thing they need is an added meta-message to those peers that yep, they're different, and the school is going to participate in cementing that perception, so it's OK to treat them different, too.  


    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

    by koosah on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:14:55 AM PST

  •  As for Voc Ed: They absolutely should take into (18+ / 0-)

    consideration a child's interests. And for crying out loud, when we're talking autistic kids, that child's interest might be the ONLY thing they are EVER interested in and the ONLY thing they will be voluntarily cooperative about doing.

    Try to get an autistic kid to do something they DON'T want to do.  Just try.  

    Now why would they ever even contemplate training an ASD kid to do something they detest instead of spending five minutes to come up with something related to one of their interests?  

    Sounds like a set-up for failure.  This sort of self-sabotage by an agency always makes me wonder if their real goal isn't failure.  That way they can opt-out of future efforts by pointing to the dismal failure they created.    

    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

    by koosah on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:23:45 AM PST

    •  "Try to get an autistic kid to do something they (16+ / 0-)

      DON'T want to do.  Just try."

      I guffawed at this.  Anyone who knows an autistic kid will laugh.

      We had to get out of one classroom because of an authoritative teacher who felt Ellie needed to "learn to follow the rules just like everyone else".  This is a teacher of CHILDREN with AUTISM.  She was, again pardon my French, a fucking idiot.

      She called my Ellie, the sweetest, most easygoing autistic kid you'll ever meet (as long as you aren't an authoritative ass-hole with her) "Oppositionally Defiant".  I almost punched her in the nose, then I threatened to sue the school unless they got us the hell out of that classroom.

      We got into another classroom, and this teacher is a dream come true.  She's everything a teacher of autistic youth should be, and she gets more work out of Ellie than I could have ever dreamed.

      But, we're off to high school next year, and we're back at the craps table.  Something tells me we won't get the dream teacher again.  Sigh.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This!! (7+ / 0-)

      A couple of years ago I was a frequent substitute at a middle school where there was a little 6th grade boy who was autistic, and who was nothing short of obsessed with dinosaurs. He consumed every dinosaur-related book he could get his hands on, could relate detailed facts and figures and names of dinosaur species like he was talking about the weather, and had impressive knowledge of where archaeological digs are happening around the world with the purpose of finding dinosaur skeletons. The kid could probably grow up to be a killer archaeologist, or writer of dinosaur info books or story books for kids, etc etc etc.  

      I was shocked and dismayed when I found out that on his actual IEP, approved by people with training in special education, his fixation on dinosaurs had been deemed a problem behavior because it distracted him from the "real work" he was supposed to be completing. Um, how about using his interest to structure and enhance at least some of his academic tasks? Nope. The plan on his IEP was to discourage him from talking about dinosaurs or checking materials out from the library about dinosaurs rather than about other topics. Nauseatingly, at some point his mom/dad had to approve that IEP.

      •  Instead of banning the "thing" (dinosaurs) (6+ / 0-)

        it should be used to broaden horizons.

        I can understand the concern if the kid is learning dinosaurs literally to the detriment of all else, but, for heaven sakes, imagine how many ways dinosaurs can be worked into the curriculum.  Dinosaur math.  Dinosaur biology.  Literature featuring dinosaurs.  Dinosaur chemistry.  

        If he learns the math, the biology and has a high reading level, how does it matter how he got there?

        As a parent voicing these ideas, though, we are "enablers", we are "selling our kids short", we "don't have enough faith in our own children".

        Many parents aren't willing to hear those labels from the school, so they give in.

        Me?  Call me whatever the heck you want.  Just don't tell me no. Or call me late for dinner. :)

        I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

        by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:30:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Spot on! (7+ / 0-)

          There's an excellent book by Paula Kluth & Patrick Schwartz called  Just Give Him the Whale! 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism that lays out a how-to on exactly what you're talking about with the dinosaur example.

          Sometimes they'll listen better to a parent when that parent brings in a book written by "experts" with PhDs after their names... so the book is useful in that way too, besides all of the great ideas in and of themselves.

          And on another note -- may I say I love the statement from your diary:
          She's what some people would call "low functioning", but I prefer to call her, "Kick Ass Awesome".

          Yes, oh yes!

          If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

          by AnnieJo on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:22:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It sounds like a joke, but there is a fine line (6+ / 0-)

            between "obsession" and "passion."  One person's passion can be seen by almost everyone else as an obsession...but tough patootie. Guess what? It's our passions that get us up in the morning and make us want to go on with the day.  

            ASD kids are just more honest about not caving in to the pressure to settle for the mundane.  Wouldn't we wish everyone could follow their passions?  To insist these guys give theirs up is cruel and heartless and just some sort of power trip.  I want to tell those "educators" "Yay for forced another disabled kid to live a day as soulless and joyless as your dried-up heart."  

            I know an ASD young man who started as a dino-obsessed kid, too.  Lived and breathed everything dinosaur.  Guess what?  He's going to Community College now, and job-shadowing at the neighboring University's Paleontology lab.  He knows that continuing that path meant he had to learn how to take a bus, how to manage time, how to use a cafeteria, how to do a number of previously resisted activities because NOW those activities were the key to doing what he loved.  

            He even had a hard conversation and decided it was worth the scary idea of taking a medication to help him deal with his OCD and anxiety.  He is total awesomesauce and our entire support group is so proud of him.  

            But he accomplishes all of this BECAUSE HE LOVES DINOSAURS!          

            "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

            by koosah on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:29:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What a great story, thank you koosah (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koosah, second alto, Cassandra Waites

              for sharing it.  

              What a great example of what we're talking about here.  And for my daughter, her passion is art, so the more you leave her to her own devices, the more creative she is.  Some of the stop motion animation/claymation she's done has become she has had time TIME to explore.  You know how much time it takes to do claymation?

              If I had her in x therapy, and y therapy, and z therapy, and had her scheduled from dusk to dawn like a lot of ASD kids I know, she never would have had the chance to explore all these talents she has.

              We need to let these kids be themselves, and not what the world wants them to be.

              I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

              by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:29:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL. Yeah, I DO know how much time it takes... (3+ / 0-)

                because for awhile that's what I wanted to do when I grew up, too. :^)

                There is NO reason your daughter can't start being formally trained to use her creativity for a future livelihood.  It's going to take some thought, I won't lie to you, mainly because so much graphic design work is done on computers nowadays.  Not much is done straight by hand, but some is.  Niches still exist.  Niches can be carved out too.  All it takes is someone--a vocational educator--who is as excited about helping his students develop their passions into trainable, employable skills as the students are about their passions.  

                Just an idea, but have you ever thought about having your daughter "teach" or mentor younger ASD kids through an art class?  It's surprising sometimes how much other ASD kids will appreciate having an older ASD kid lead or guide them. The group would need to be small, and carefully chosen, and monitored, naturally, but you might think about it.  

                "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

                by koosah on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:54:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's a great idea, but Ellie isn't nearly (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  koosah, second alto, Cassandra Waites

                  communicative enough for that.  She's has limited verbal abilities, and most of the time she's trying to get everyone out of the room.

                  Her "low functioning" presentation is what makes people double take when they see what she does.  I frequently get questions like, "She did this?  By herself?"

                  Which makes me laugh a little, because she would NOT welcome any help from us.  Not to mention, my few small attempts at side by side work with her, mine ended up looking like an infant baboon made it, while hers looks polished and professional.

                  I am convinced that she could do graphic design as an adult.  She's great with computers, and she has fantastic intuitive layout and design skills.  We just have to find that right place for her.

                  And we will.  We will!

                  I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

                  by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:01:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  If wiping the tables is good training, then (18+ / 0-)

    all students, disabled or not, should be doing it.

    It would take some thinking to develop an appropriate art curriculum for a student with autism, but it should not be impossible. My middle son took art all through high school. He was one of the two kids in his AP Art class who was not headed to art school. (And he received a 5 on the AP art exam.) Some of the curriculum in the advanced and AP art classes focused on art history and art criticism. This material might be difficult to adapt, but there is no reason that an autistic child could not develop a 2-d or 3-d portfolio. (A good portion of the year in AP art was focused on developing a portfolio.) Much of high school art curriculum focuses on basic drawing, and ti should not be difficult to adapt this for a student with disabilities.

    •  I'm sure they would say that (13+ / 0-)

      the other kids have other vocations, and so that training would not be appropriate.

      But what I say is, "Do you really have so little faith in my daughter's abilities that you think she needs to be trained to wipe tables?  The only people I can see that might need training to learn to wipe tables are possibly those with physical disabilities who would have trouble holding a towel or making a circular motion with their arm.  Pretty much everyone else can "learn" to wipe a table in 10 seconds.  Maybe another day or two of training to make sure they clean the whole table thoroughly.  But then, training is done.  It's not a difficult task.

      It's insulting in the extreme to tell me that my daughter needs training to do that.  And you know what they say to me?  Seriously, listen to this.

      They say, "Don't have such low expectations for your daughter.  I'm sure she can learn to do this."

      Gasket blown.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:44:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  IEPs (12+ / 0-)

    Are supposed to have transition plans where career path is built around interests and abilities.

    tech centers ( vocational high schools) provide real skills in an experiential education. Ellie sounds like she'd do great in the graphic arts program at our tech center but she'd have to wait til 11 th grade.

    •  The problem is that, though she has skills and (8+ / 0-)

      talent galore, she also has severe autism that stands like a wall in front of her abilities.

      So putting her in a class with other kids and expecting her to get anything out of it, even with an aide (who would have NO technical expertise), is self-defeating.

      She needs specialized instruction, and that kind of instruction hasn't been created yet.  It involves someone who has the skill and expertise (art teacher, computer instructor) AND knows how to effectively teach a kid with autism.  It is very difficult to find that.  So we will need to be creative, and I'm fine with that.  Like I said, I'm just asking them to try, and then try something else if the first plan doesn't work, ad infinitum until we find something that does work.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 11:54:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right that it hasn't been created YET... (10+ / 0-)
        She needs specialized instruction, and that kind of instruction hasn't been created yet.
        My daughter is going to school to become a special needs counselor and she is born for that job.  She is only a sophmore in the Honors program at Murray State but she has already had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people who are doing some fantastic things.  Her friend is going to school in Louisville and is majoring in musical therapy where she plays music for people who are traumatized and other conditions where they feel that live music in controlled settings can be useful in treating their condition.  

        My friend's daughter, who has an autistic child of her own, is working for a small but growing company that specializes in teaching autistic children with locations in Owensboro, KY and I believe Evansville, In and will be opening one here in Madisonville later this year.  They have been featured on local television news for the work they have been doing and the success they are having working with moderate to severe autistic children from very early ages to get them ready for school and developing multiple talents rather then allowing the children to become obsessed with only particlualr skills, abilities or likes and dislikes.

        The progress being made is incredible and it is coming from people like yourself, who's love for these children and firm belief that they can be more than just a burden on society or someone to wipe down the tables or someone to be stuck in a room or hospital and forgotten.  These advances have not come from a desire to be rich or from any corporate business model but rather from parents and people who genuinely care about these kids.  There is hope that we can overcome all of these challenges in our lifetimes.  Thank you for your diary.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 01:46:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I really feel your concern (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, worldlotus, LilithGardener

        on this.  Just an idea: an advanced high school or college age  graphic arts whiz just might find a connection with Ellie.  One of our sons just might have been able to do that.  As we know, artists can be highly intuitive, even without specialized training about autism.  Perhaps the head of a computer or art department could make some suggestions?  

        If she had a graphic buddy/tutor, it just might help bridge the gap.

        Just my 2c worth.  

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:52:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's what I'm hoping for next year (8+ / 0-)

          if to find some kind of mentoring situation.  I'm confident we can find something eventually.

          I have pretty much come to the sad realization that we might have to do it ourselves.  I'll try and squeeze as much as I can from the schools, but it probably come down to us doing a lot of the leg work on our own.

          What can you do, though?

          I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

          by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:09:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The best you can (6+ / 0-)

            and that's just what you are doing.  Ellie is a lucky girl to have you.  

            The truth always matters.

            by texasmom on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 06:12:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I agree that you pretty much do have to do it (8+ / 0-)

            yourselves. And, there's more to being an artist than just an income stream. Everybody needs a way to see himself or herself and a way to present himself/herself to others. When I was in grad school, I worked with a 17-year-old young woman with a wonderful soul who -- through her parents' medical neglect -- had suffered a stroke at the age of 8. From that time forward, she lived in a children's hospital. She never learned to read or write or count higher than 7 and her speech was mostly unintelligible, but she basically understood what was going on around her. She enjoyed watching movies on television. She laughed appropriately at the jokes and shed tears at the sad parts.

            My concern for her was that she was about to age out of the facility that had been her home for almost a decade and leave behind the nursing staff that loved her unconditionally. Due in part to her need for serious medical attention on a daily basis, she was about to be moved to a nursing center for adults where she might or might not be easily accepted by other adults. I felt strongly that she needed a way to present herself to them. Having a minor in art myself, I decided to see what she could do with a little exposure to abstract expressionism and some paint. (I had to hit up some of my friends for money for supplies, and I didn't ask them. I told them what they needed to give her, and I didn't take no for an answer.) Her results were far beyond my expectations.

            Yes, we held a little art show inside the hospital for the nurses and doctors, and she made some money. The occupational therapy team took her shopping for underwear and shoes, items she couldn't get for free from the hospital's thrift shop. But, the most important part is she became someone she was proud to be.

            Lot's of different types of artists have to have "day jobs," maybe even wiping tables, but they don't have to be "table wipers."

            "Portion of the adolescent prisoners in solitary on Rikers Island who have been diagnosed with a mental illness: 7/10." Tell someone.

            by RJDixon74135 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:33:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  coquiero, even in the land ruled by repubs-GA (5+ / 0-)

        what you wish is currently in place (hopefully).  While doing research to advocate for my child back in that 8th grade year, I accidently discovered that there was a brand new program launched that year.  A statewide program for those entering high school or who were age 14.

        Called ACCESS, this program was designed to enable kiddos to take the same courses in high school as their peers without disabilities.  One had to enroll in the program upon entering HS, one would earn HS credits and take as long as necessary in order to do so.  Even if that meant being able to take academic coursework past the age of 18.

        Now this particular program was designed for those with moderate-severe-profound disabilities.  Key to this program is modifications-individualized modifications.

        I wasted no time in educating myself about this program & made a copy of all the pertinent laws etc for the 8th grade teacher prior to the IEP transition to HS.

        Ahem.  No one, including the school staff or high school teacher knew of this new initiative.  So, my child, his HS teacher & parents all were sorta lab rats the first couple of years in HS.  Some glitches-funny one being my child will probably get a scholarship based on the 100% grading errors-but overall the experience continues to grow & flow.

        Keep in mind that my child went from an 8th grade self contained classroom with 4 teachers & a max of 5 students (dropped to 4 by years end) to a high school class of 13 with three teachers.  A very eclectic student population.  

        Those three teachers had to learn how to modify regular 9th grade coursework & individualize for my child.  Electives such as art included.  And repeat this each progressive year (ie for 10th, 11th, etc)

        Fortunately, ongoing training modules are available to the teachers through the State Dept of Ed website as well as in person. Thinking outside the box probably proved easier than the grading & remitting of paperwork to the state....

        By year 2, I was pleasantly surprised to discover more kiddos enrolled in this program and had been directed there by my child's teacher.

        Now, in year 4 all of his classmates are enrolled.  OMG and there is still time to crush cans if they wanted to (they don't thank heavens)

        So do not give up hope.  Maybe your State Dept of Ed has something going that no one even knows about.  Even if they do not, please believe that any teacher your daughter has in HS is fully capable of modifications plus has ready access to peer teachers & their coursework/feedback/assistance.  They should be fully capable.  

        We got lucky-because I do the research thing & because of serendipity.  And because my child has a remarkable teacher that I will probably adopt when kiddo ages out of the school system.

        But.  I do not forget that no one knew about this program to inform us in order to enroll kiddo.  Enrollment had to be upon entering 9th grade.  How many across this state never got the chance that year or even now????(GRRRR)

        I'm also consciously aware of how "new" to it the current teacher was & so gave a lot of slack for the first couple of years.  But.  I still watch & I prepare for any coming push to "graduate" before age 22.

         It is the way it is, sadly, in the now.  Hoping & fighting for brighter tomorrows for all our kiddos.


  •  The real problem: grouping all SPED kids together (12+ / 0-)

    The idea that every kid who needs and deserves SPED support should get the same support and training is dead wrong.

    Everyone would understand it was inappropriate if you decided that all SPED kids would learn to read braille because it's possible one might be blind.

    For some kids, wiping tables and cleanup could be appropriate skill-building. (Although I'm with the commenters that probably all the kids should be taught it.) It's probably not right for the blind student and the quadriplegic student, though.

    I hope you can work through the IEP to find an activity that makes more sense for her.

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

    by elfling on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:49:50 PM PST

  •  I knew a person who got a job at a restaurant (11+ / 0-)

    washing dishes and prepping food.  The job was lost because he never had been taught to use a broom, and failed at the task of sweeping.

    Wiping tables, counters, any surface is a life skill that can be taught to everyone, and will be useful in most settings.  So is taking a phone message and sweeping a floor.

    However, once the skill is mastered and the student is ready for something else, there should be an opportunity to do something else.

    Also, some students will never actually accomplish a specific skill, for what ever reason.

    I taught a young lady who was stuck on fractions in the math class; she was taught year after year the same thing but was never able to grasp the concepts.  She came to my GED class and when it was time to move on, to new concepts to practice, she did fine with most of them.  

    She described her frustration to me with never being taught any other math because she couldn't master the fractions.
    She took her GED test, (the math part twice) and passed.

    Around that time the test changed to allow a calculator that could process the fractions math, so all she needed to do was set it up correctly.

    The best thing for the student is to have the school clearly aware that the parent will advocate relentlessly for the student, and the parents will need the support of professional advocates like educational lawyers and pediatric neurologists so the school will continue to grow the opportunities for the student.

    Very few of us are clear on what our best path to a career is, and this must be doubly difficult for your daughter, but changing from middle school to high school can be improved because you are there smoothing out the path.  

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. &

    by weck on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 02:54:38 PM PST

    •  We fought about the math thing, too (9+ / 0-)

      I had to pitch a fit to get them to move on from time and money.  Like if she hadn't mastered time to the minute, she wasn't worthy to learn any other kind of math.  Like there are no ways to tell time except for an analog clock.  Jiminy Christmas...

      And the sweeping and cleaning thing, that's a shame about the lost job.  If my daughter was going to get a job like that, I'd be sure to practice any skills she might need in that area.

      I could even see them doing, "This is what a job in food services looks like." Then they all learn things you might need to know to work in a grocery store, or restaurant, or what have you.  But that's not how it works out.  They way it usually goes is torturing these poor kids with endless iterations of mindless crap.  It's infuriating.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 03:55:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have a lucrative industry nowadays (6+ / 0-)

    all for the purpose of convincing the public that some people are not as "smart" as others, that they are intrinsically less deserving of opportunity. Who is this jackass who's made his career--a prominent, visible one--on the premise that black people are "dumber" than white people, and should only attempt manual labor? Murray? What a creep.

    Anyway, we can't "waste" opportunity on "undeserving" people, who won't benefit from it. Sadly, this attitude seems to pervade education, as well.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:26:06 PM PST

  •  I have 2nd hand knowledge at best (5+ / 0-)

    on the topics.

    But from my understanding vocation training with severely autistic children is not just for future work. It is also for the students to be able to take care of themselves and live independently.

    I have no idea where on the spectrum your friends child is, but there are some basic skills children should learn. How to clean up is a valuable life skill that may not come easily to all individuals.

    A good BCBA would probably try and make it as positive an experience as possible , but given my non expert understanding, there may be gray where an unpleasant skills are still needed.

    The one area which i think may be an issue  is
    " I don’t care how it’s been done before, I don’t care if it’s worked for others. "
    From what I have heard from people who work in the behavior industry it is considered highly unethical to try a new therapy unless its been proven to work for others.  At least when not in the explicitly clinical research phase.

    •  I appreciate your reply (4+ / 0-)

      I do understand that kids need to learn like skills like cleaning, and that not every student will learn that at home like my girl does.  But this was not offered up as life skills, it was clearly vocational education.  If it were life skills it would not take place in the cafeteria in full view of the typical population.

      As to the ethics of behavioral therapy, I have to be honest, that is why the behavioralists were shown the door at my house.  What is more unethical, trying something new, or torturing a child with "proven" methods for a year or more, when they are clearly not working?  Rather than switching to something else which might work better, they stick doggedly to the "proven" method, with claims that "this is the way it's done"?

      Potty training comes to mind.  We started at age 5, did all the "proven" methods, and she was having four to five accidents a day.  It was truly one of the worst years of my life.  The more things don't work, the more intense they get, so that we were spending virtually all day every day on potty training, and it wasn't working.  When I would complain I was told, "This is the way it's done.  It's "proven"."

      If that's ethics, they can take their ethics and go find someone else to torture.

      I find the best way to do things is to get to know the child, watch them carefully, and tailor "proven" methods to that child.  In the case of my daughter and potty training, it turned out she wasn't ready.  The lesson I learned there is to try to teach her certain life skills (getting dressed, bathing, etc)  If it isn't working after a period of time, give it a rest.  Revisit later.  Eventually she's ready for it and the training becomes much, much easier.  I find that ABA therapists want to teach her things before she's ready, so it's crazy labor intensive.  And it doesn't work.  And it's torture for my daughter.

      No thanks.  I'll take the "unethical" way.

      No offense meant to you.  I know your comment was offered in good faith, and I appreciate that.  But when you're living this stuff every day for years and years, it tends to get you a little hot under the collar.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:34:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right there with you, coquiero! GRRRRR. Faced (5+ / 0-)

    similar when my child was in middle school (8th).  Except it was crushing cans along with "folding" & "wiping" and "vacuuming" and who knows what else.

    Called a meeting specifically to inquire where the academics went.  Apparently, once a child in SpEd hits 6th or 7th grade the focus shifts from academics to pre-vocational in some school systems.

    The final straw for me was the announcement after Christmas break that year that the class would be learning about hygiene.  As in washing hands,  Putting on deodorant.  Etc.  OK???  How appropriate is that for a 14 year old that doesn't need deodorant & can wash their own hands?  How many typical peers are taught these things in school instead of coursework??


    I was not loved, no doubt, that final year of middle school 'cause all 4' something of me "advocated" the entire year for my child. Funny the impact the word no can make...

    Way I look at it, he has the rest of his life to learn to freaking crush cans or fold but a finite amount of time to actually receive an education.

    Sadly, the only way you can change things or encourage thinking outside the box is thru the IEP.  Perhaps also an unexpected ally-we discovered we had a couple in our child's speech therapist & thru the counties AAC Tech folks.

    I feel your pain.  My child has DS/ASD, hearing loss & speaks Martian.  But taught self to functionally play all levels of the Nintendo Zelda games, Need for Speed & Spiderman-starting at age 5.  Long before he could read.

    Then taught self how to navigate/operate a PC, a Mac etal.  And a video/camera.  And who knows what else I'll discover next.

    Crush cans my ass. (apologies for profanity-I do get annoyed at the state of the states & minds....)

    At this stage of life-after teaching SpEd/EI, parenting so called typical kiddos & constantly being amazed by the kiddo who I won't let crush cans in school, methinks the learning never stops.

    I'm honest about my kiddos limitations but I choose to help him discover ways to circumvent them when possible.  The focus is on discovering, experiencing & building on his joys; his interests, his life quality.   His successes.

    Heart hugs to you.

    •  Transition to middle school is rough for parents (6+ / 0-)

      It goes from all warm and cuddly and hope and high expectations to these sterile classrooms with kids crushing cans.  Particularly for DS, kids with DS are so perceptive and they immediately pick up on those kinds of changes and their like, "WTF just happened?"  And to be honest, kids with ASD pick up on it, too, even those who don't appear to pick up much about their environment, like Ellie.

      I almost lost hope that first year of middle school.  It sucks monkey balls.

      As to this, I"m going to post it on my fridge, it's eminently quotable:

      I'm honest about my kiddos limitations but I choose to help him discover ways to circumvent them when possible.  The focus is on discovering, experiencing & building on his joys; his interests, his life quality.   His successes.
      I'm with you!

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:57:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This: (7+ / 0-)
        I almost lost hope that first year of middle school.  It sucks monkey balls

        For me it was the newly minted 8th grade teacher from hell.  Seriously got so very angry that we hired an advocate.  Heh, which is what hat I wear. Sigh.

        Could not believe what I was seeing or hearing over that year.  To this day-4 years later I have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of those days & that badly placed "teacher".

        Gotta share -this teacher actually leapt across the room & grabbed my child by the arm saying "No we do not hug-we shake hands".  Because my child greeted his dad with a hug.

        Teacher did this in front of a room full of equally astonished parents gathered for a class Christmas party.

        Ok?!  A little kiddo who had to be taught-for years- how to hug/kiss/show affection had spontaneously hugged his daddy.

        A kiddo with DS and ASD.

        Kiddo got mighty confused that year & went from loving school to not wanting to go.

        Yeah, best money we ever spent for a body guard.

        •  {{{{worldlotus}}}} (4+ / 0-)

          Yup, we had a real bad one, too.  I know that pain.  I have never met a woman who was less suited to teach kids with ASD.  She seemed miserable and she made everyone around her miserable.  I always wanted to ask her, "Why the hell are you doing this?"

          Ellie's older brother had some bad experiences with dickish band directors, and ended up acting out in response to their unprofessional behavior.  You know, with such horrifying behavior as talking during practice and laughing when a kid was was goofing around.  Real hard core stuff.

          Anyway, he ended up getting kicked out of band, and we pretty much went without a fuss, even though the whole thing was very unfair.  Other parents with similar experiences have gone through the entire three tier complaint process with the district, all the way up to the school board.  They couldn't believe I was just going to let them get away with it.

          What they don't understand is that my son had the opportunity to get away from those bad teachers.  So why not take it and move on?  His sister has no such opportunity.  She has no choice to speak up for herself, or change her behavior (as my son does.  Though I didn't blame him, he could have stopped talking during practice.  He was just trying to stick it to them so he didn't).  So I save up my energy to fight her battles.  My son can fight his own, with my support and encouragement.

          The adage, "You have to pick your battles" takes on a whole new meaning for us, doesn't it?

          I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

          by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:54:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I've said it before and I'll say it again. (5+ / 0-)

    This country is wasting resources and talent, especially where youth such as Ellie are concerned.

    The system seems to have a talent of keeping us below the glass floor when it comes to matters such as these because the people who run it feel they have an image to maintain, and to the so-called normal people, we'll just mess it all up for them.

    In other words, they don't want someone who's 'inferior' showing them up. I think I'll go pet my cat now.

    I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

    by Homer177 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:18:17 AM PST

    •  I don't know, Homer, I like to think that (6+ / 0-)

      people think they're doing the right thing, at least.  They just are lazy or dumb or deluded or too old to change their ways.  I'm not sure if that's being more charitable or less on my part.  :)

      I really think the system is not set up for ASD.  The world doesn't know what to do with autism quite yet.  I know it's not a "new" thing, but I don't think anyone can deny that there's been a huge influx of ASDs into the population in the last twenty years, and we all know ASD doesn't fit into the way the world sees itself.

      It's going to be a long adjustment, and in the meantime, people like you and my Ellie are pioneers in a way.  It's never fun to be the pioneers.  You're forging new pathways.

      I know that doesn't do much to assuage the bitter feelings of unemployment, or in my case, inadequate education, but I it's the way I see the world right now.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:44:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, that's part of the problem. (4+ / 0-)

        Many folks in this country immediate results and instant benefits when it comes to implementing or trying new things.

        It's sad, really, because as a country we've missed out on quite a few opportunities because of this attitude from better educating kids to modernizing our infrastructure in general. A lot of this stuff should have at least been started decades ago but most of the Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers said no to that, and now many of their kids and grandkids have the same attitude.

        I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

        by Homer177 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:21:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well put! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, second alto

        Re greater # of kids with autism -- some of this is probably due to recalssification of kids.  Kids who were thought MR are now considered to have profound/severe/intense autism; kids who were odd and had social issues ==> Aspie.  Anyway, could not agree more re: need for a paradigm shift.  These kids are like canaries in our increasingly harsh cultural coalmine.

        "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

        by dackmont on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:15:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  not just SPED (10+ / 0-)

    All student's interests and skills should be taken into account when planning their education, vocational or otherwise.

    This is a problem in public education generally.  The arts have been nearly thrown out altogether in the Race to the Top.  Public education isn't about education, it's about training future workers.

    And it's nothing new.  I recommend Edushyster's Cristal Ball posting of Jan 4 '14, from which I pulled this quote:

    The efficiency experts of the 1920′s, with their dream of transforming teaching into a mechanized, routinized (read cheaper), easily measured profession that groomed future workers, aren’t that different from today’s policy experts and think tankers.
    •  More a race to the mediocre (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, dicentra, second alto

      with standardized testing and assloads of make-work homework, the effect of which is to DISCOURAGE creative thinking, especially for gifted kids (who are underserved... like all the rest... in their own ways).

      Just a semantic aside; I know what you mean... it's about conditioning worker bees.

      "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

      by dackmont on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:12:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is she more interested in hardware, or software? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, worldlotus

    "Computer training" is a really broad subject and one that no elementary or secondary education facility is really able to teach beyond the basics.

    90% of IT training is done as self-teaching - or at the college level.

    If she's good with hardware, you can pick up cheap used computers and let her take them apart.  There is a certification she can aim for after high school called the A+ exam that is for low level tech support, which is primarily the hardware side of things but also dealing with basic setup, repairs, and "help desk" things (e.g. my printer won't work.)  Fixing PCs is fun - and easy. And pays well.

    For software, I love the website -  She can work through those exercises at her own time, at her own pace, and pick up basic programming skills to build websites.

    But this is one place that the school isn't going to help her with.  The teachers themselves don't know much beyond Office and iPads.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:27:18 AM PST

    •  I'm talking software (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mostly for artistic purposes.

      I know they could teach her Photoshop at the very least.

      She would amazing things with photoshop.

      She already does amazing things with much lower level software meant for young kids.

      I'd love to get her training in film editing software as well, like finalcutpro, but I know you're right that it's a fantasy at this point.


      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:40:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  YES!! THIS!! (5+ / 0-)

    I remember being in middle school and high school and the "special ed kids" (sorry to be so asinine, but that's what my level of understanding was of those students when I was that age) would come into my classes in the middle of class time to pick up the classroom recycling boxes/tubs, empty them into a bigger tub or cart or whatever in the hallway, and then bring them back in. Sometimes their entrance would come right as the teacher was talking to our class, or in the middle of a silent test, and you could tell some of those kids were SO embarrassed having to do that grunt work in front of "normal" students.

    There was definitely the undercurrent feeling/murmurs among my classmates along the lines of "Well, since they can't learn anything, I guess they might as well learn how to do simple crap like that."  Sometimes there was even a staff member assistant who would be doing the work for a student who was significantly mentally handicapped and in a wheelchair, sitting out in the hallway. What the heck purpose was that supposed to serve??

    I remember always feeling so, so bad for those kids, wondering why they should have to basically serve us in the "normal" classrooms just because they had a disability.

    Your rant is the most righteous I've read in awhile. Kudos.

    •  Thank you! Nice to hear from a "typical"; (4+ / 0-)

      it's always good to hear what kids on the other end of that relationship think.

      I just thought that this kind of crap ended in the sixties.  I really, naively did.

      It should have ended in the sixties, but it won't end until parents speak up and start rocking the boat.  This is NOT appropriate.

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:22:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's gotten worse since the '90's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Fewer resources (wars + tax cuts + stuff more important, dontcha know), so more kids secluded, restrained and abused.  Did a diary on it awhile back.  Legislative and regulatory progress, both @ fed & state levels, is happening but slow.

        "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

        by dackmont on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:09:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....not your daughter but the 19th Century approach to education that our federal and state policy makers have mandated.

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:59:07 PM PST

  •  This is very discouraging. (3+ / 0-)

    Quite aside from this task being inappropriate to your child's vocation and abilities, having a separate group of students singled out to do janitorial work for the others strikes me as ritual humiliation -- essentially punishment.

    This is true whether it's making poor kids work for their lunches as the Newt Gingriches of the world would like, or kids with special needs doing the cleaning.

    Like you say, it is very different from this being life skills training, which would take place in a classroom.  It's as if they're punishing the kids for being challenging to work with, for needing extra help.  And as if they can't imagine that a kid that doesn't speak much and can't learn in a "normal" classroom has any skills or talents or abilities or potential or dreams of her own.  Or any that matter.

    Sadly, this seems to be increasingly true of how education works in this country in general.  The treatment of kids in special education as you describe just seems to be the most florid form.  Hopes and dreams and creativity and exploration and getting something meaningful out of learning are increasingly for the rich and the pale; everyone else can learn to the test, dammit.

    (And, plenty of kids with and without special needs will end up in janitorial or food service jobs.  This doesn't mean it's ok to start making them perform those jobs for free at age 14.)

    © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:14:47 PM PST

    •  I have three kids, and believe me I am (0+ / 0-)

      disillusioned of the education system in the US.  It sucks.  The high achieving kids basically get a supplemental education at Kumon, and those that don't can't understand why the other kids are "smart" and they aren't.

      My kids don't go to Kumon.  They are stressed out enough by all the testing, testing, testing.  I'm not going to make it worse by tying them to a grindstone for the small portion of the day they're not in school.

      So they won't be "high achievers".  They probably wouldn't anyway, even with the Kumon.  I'm just opting out of this crazy system and hoping that the kids will find ways careers and higher education even without being "high achievers".

      I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

      by coquiero on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 05:01:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Same old story with schools, not enough resources (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, worldlotus

    I have a teenager, a boy, non-verbal, can read.  My experience with schools:  cultivated obtuseness, default lazy and lack of creativity, all of this DUE TO not enough resources.  IOW, same as for typically-developing kids, only moreso.  Which applies in so many areas of life.

    Your daughter sounds so cool.  Lucky to have you and people who recognize her talents.  People with autism are good at stuff... just hard to get it out, probably because too much info coming in to process.

    Check out Autreat (ANI) and AutCom and ASAN.

    Great diary, keep channeling that steam coming out of your ears!  Sounds like quite a steam engine, good for you!! :-)

    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

    by dackmont on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:04:55 AM PST

  •  How could you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, worldlotus

    post such an infuriating situation and not provide links to puppy videos to help us recover? Some of us have blood pressure issues you know.  I'll just have to see what's up at squee.

    A couple more things about making only some students clean up after everyone.

    -It seems like using forced child labor.
    -It seems like punishment.
    -It seems like privilege for the other students taught that others will clean up after them.

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