What Happens To Your Child When You Find Out That Placement Is Wrong
I just sent this to my superintendent, special education director, special education coordinator, autism specialist, principal, vice principal, and three school board members. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
My husband and I had some concerns after we left our evaluation meeting yesterday. We feel that Jake needs an immediate change of placement. We feel that Jake is not benefiting from being in Joyce Jackson's Resource Room and having Joyce Jackson be his case manager.
Joy Rose stated that we wouldn't be discussing change of placement until after evaluations, but I don't believe that is in Jake's best interest. We are gradually losing him and I don't think a 60-65 day wait is in his best interest.
We spoke with Jake last night about his refusal to do what she told him. She stated that she told him three times to do something and he refused. She stated that she had to stand over him and make him do it.
We asked Jake why he refused to do what he was told. He told us that she only asked him one time and that he told her the rule was that he was to type if it were longer than 5-8 sentences. What she was asking him to type was three sentences. He is a rule follower and he believed that the rule was 5-8 sentences.
Jake has never complained about a teacher. Even when we were having issues with teachers he would tell us that they weren't that bad. He doesn't see people's intentions, good or bad, and expects that everyone lives by the same codes that he does.
Jake has been very anxious lately. He has been irritable and extremely overwhelmed. His psychiatrist was going to take him off of the medication that helps with his anxiety until he spoke with Jake. He realized that school was too overwhelming for Jake to take that step.
Jake has liver enzyme tests done every four months to make sure that the medication is not affecting his liver. The last two tests showed that his liver enzymes were three times the normal. His psychiatrist is doing a consult with a liver specialist from John Hopkins. I'm sure that he won't be able to take the medication after this.
The fact that my child has to take medication in order to attend school has always been a worry. The fact that my child's liver could be damaged from that medication is outrageous.
While we were speaking to Jake he told us that he didn't like Ms. Jackson. I understand that with typical kids that is normal and that they need to learn to deal with all kinds of different individuals. Jake is not typical and it is the first time in 15 years that he has ever said that about another person. That is a major issue.
I discussed this issue with Jerry Keimig in 2005 and told him that my son wanted to die because school was just too much for him.
I met with Mr. Keimig for 15 minutes. I told him that I had read that most autistic children only respond to positive teaching. He told me that I couldn’t believe everything that I read. I told him that I wanted my son in a class with a more positive teacher or in a modified curriculum. He told me that he may not be able to help my son in the future. I told him that my son was depressed and that being in this class was making it worse. He told me that it was a good life lesson for my son
Jake no longer has a BIP because the district felt that it was not necessary. I told them that I would agree to that as long as his educators were highly trained in his disability and understood the difference between behaviors that are caused by his disability and behaviors that are typical. I believe that they do not understand this.
Over and over again we are told that Jake is resistant to this or refusing to do that. No one ever understands that it is due to his disability and that they need to understand why he is exhibiting this behavior. Perhaps if his teachers were trained and functional BIP were in place this would not happen.
Jake has been told by teachers that his mom is making his life harder. That he doesn't have a writing disability and that his mom is making rules. He believes these people. That not only makes my job harder, but it makes the district's job harder as well because he is then resistant to the help that he so desperately needs.
Ms. Jackson is probably a fine teacher for children that are ED. Jake is not. Jake has autism and that requires a different type of dedication, patience, tolerance, and personality.
Jake was given an Alpha Smart last year and it was kept in his 7th hour class and Ms. Jackson had to figure out how to use it each time that it was taken out of the closet that it was kept in. Therefore, Jake believed that it did not work. I stated this at the IEP meeting. Finally, Ms Jackson let Jake use a class computer, which I had suggested in middle school, and told Jake that "I have figured out a loophole around your mom's rules." That is unacceptable to me. Joyce Jackson admitted in the IEP meeting that she had said this. Jake came home and told me that I was making things harder for him because that is the impression that he received from this teacher. My advocacy for Jake should never be discussed with Jake without my permission and should never be used as an excuse to find loopholes.
I asked Jake why he was resistive to using the laptop this year. He said that it takes so long for it to boot up. This is a child with organizational issues and a child that can not follow more than two step directions. While he is getting his computer set up he is not being able to hear what the teacher is saying or what is going on in the classroom. He asked why he couldn't just use the computer in the classroom like he did before. So, Jake is not resistive to using AT, as is the district's position, Jake is resistive to using something that he feels is making things even harder.
His present level states that the district feels he is resistive. Once again, this should be addressed in a BIP. They put the following in his IEP in May, "Jake has been resistive to carrying the Quick Pad to classes." I asked that it be changed because the statement was not accurate. In August we had a meeting and the following is taken from my notes, "As for the issue about the assistive technology, they added a sentence that stated, "Mrs. Tucker believes that this was because he believed it did not work."
I told the team that I disagreed with that statement. The device didn't work in Jake's mind and that's why he didn't want to use it. He was not resistive to carrying the Quick Pad to classes. He was resistive to working with a machine that didn't work. The team refused to take that out. I was told that I am the expert on Jake at home and the district is the expert on Jake at school.
I would like to state that I find that offensive and incorrect. If the district were an expert on Jake, at school, all of his teachers would be HIGHLY trained in his disability. I wouldn't have to go to meetings and explain Jake's actions, issues, etc if the team at school was an expert on my son. If the team were an expert on my son, they wouldn't have put him into a class that A) he was not qualified for and B) was totally inappropriate for a student with autism. If the team were an expert on my son they would not have recommended an art class for a child with dysgraphia or a music class that he surely would have been overwhelmed in. This is not the first time that the team has suggested a class that was totally inappropriate for Jake. It was disastrous before and I'm quite sure that it would have been again if Jake had qualified for the 1st hour class."
It also states the following, which once again proves that the district can't differentiate between typical behaviors and behaviors due to his disability. "Small group testing was changed to "Access to small group testing with rephrasing of directions." We had a very long discussion on what that meant. Joy Rose stated, "Historically Jake has refused to take tests in a small group and it resulted in meltdowns and shutdowns." I would like to know where that information came from because it is totally inaccurate and should not be in Jake's file.
Jake always took tests in small groups at Prairie View. It was no big deal and it lead to higher test scores. When he entered Pleasant Lea they did not give him tests in small groups. His IEP stated that they were supposed to. Then they finally agreed to do it, but they asked if him if he wanted to. Most times he said no. That is not a refusal. That is a child being given a choice and choosing.
Had the district implemented his IEP throughout his ten years in this district, this would not be an issue right now. I have no problem with Jake taking tests in the classroom as long as he understands what the test is asking of him and he is able to take it. Making a child sit in the hallway is not my idea of small group testing and that is what has been offered on more than one occasion."
On that same discussion, I would like my notes added to the district's conference notes. The Lee's Summit School District refuses to allow parents to tape record meetings and it is not acceptable that the only conference notes in my child's file would be from the district's viewpoint. That is not allowing me to be a full participant on my son's IEP team. I been not been allowed to be a full participant in the past and I would like to see that change.
Also, I have been in contact with OSEP and my contact told me that it was inappropriate for the district to make the statement that the district is the expert on Jake at school and I am the expert at home. They also told me that Jake should have a dual diagnosis. One would be educational autism and the other would be ld because of his written language deficit and his dysgraphia. The team at the meeting yesterday told me that Missouri doesn't do that and I advised that I was contacting OSEP today to ask her why she would advise me to do that when it is not something my state does. She also advised me that she would like for me to seek mediation and I told I didn't feel that we were there yet and would like to handle this among ourselves. She is waiting for my report from my meeting yesterday.
I have repeatedly asked for help for my son. He is 15 years old. By the time that his evaluations are done he will have 2 1/2 years left of school. He has 2 1/2 years to make up for the last 10 and to make progress. That is not much time and revisiting the same issues year after year continues to rob him of his future.
Inclusive Education: Right For Some
by Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.
Is there the parent of an autistic child who wouldn't be delighted beyond words if the child would simply blend smoothly into a regular classroom? That is a dream we all share. For a few, the dream becomes a reality. Over the years I have heard from a number of parents who have shared with us their joy, their pride and their good fortune: "Billy has been included in a regular classroom! He is having a hard time adjusting, but he is making it!" But, for every parent whose child "makes it," there are many more who are not so fortunate.
Much as my wife and I would like to have our autistic son Mark be able to cope successfully in a normal school, it is very clear to us that he could not have done so. He has come along much farther than we ever dared hope, and we are quite confident it is because he was always in special classes, taught by experienced, skilled, caring teachers, exhibiting monumental patience, who had gone to great lengths to train themselves in methods which would help Mark and children like him achieve their full potential.
If a child can be effectively "included," he probably should be. Lovaas got excellent results by mainstreaming the most successful of his early intervention group, but only after intensive training. But there is a difference between inclusion and overinclusion.
If your child functions far below the normal child intellectually, academically, and socially, does it make sense to insist that he or she be "included" in a regular classroom? Certainly not, in my view, and in the view of many, if not the vast majority, of parents of autistic children.
Today special schools and special classes for autistic children are under heavy attack by people promoting "full inclusion." What is full inclusion? Full inclusion means abolishing the special educational provisions that are vitally important to autistic children.
Unfortunately, many professionals and parents have adopted the ideology that full inclusion is the only option that should be made available for any child, irrespective of how inappropriate it may be for that child, and irrespective of the wishes of the parents of that child. What is worse, these people have managed to sway legislative and educational policy so that other options are prohibited. A quarter of a century ago those of us who pioneered public education for autistic children struggled long and hard to compel the educational system to provide things that we knew werenecessary to the appropriate education of our children. This included, first and foremost, teachers who were trained in the techniques of behavior modification and who understood the peculiarities of autistic children.
In the last issue of the ARRI we published a small article titled "Full inclusion: the right choice?" Our article was based on a report by Simpson and Sasso in which they noted that there was no empirical evidence showing that full inclusion was beneficial. It seems that the full inclusion movement has been so quickly bought by the educational establishment that those who believe that a full range of options should be available have not had time to organize any meaningful opposition. We received many letters and calls of thanks from parents who were pleased to see that were addressing this issue.
Several years ago I received an urgent plea for help from a group of parents in Michigan whose children attended the Burger Center for Autistic Children. I was invited to speak there and made a tour of the facility. I was impressed. The staff were obviously very much involved with autism, the teaching of autistic children and all the details of autism. They communicated with each other with ideas and suggestions and enthusiasm that won my admiration. They certainly had the support of the parent group. The problem was that full inclusion was being heavily promoted in Michigan, and rational and efficient programs like the Burger School program for autism were in dire threat of being closed down.
I have no quarrel with inclusionists if they are content to insist upon inclusion for their children, or for children of other parents who feel that it is optimum for their children. But, when they try to force me and other unwilling parents to dance to their tune, I find it highly objectionable and quite intolerable. Parents need options.
If there are no objective data showing that full inclusion works better than giving people several options, why is it being promoted so avidly? Douglas Billen attempts to answer that question solely on ideological grounds. In his book, Achieving the Complete School, he says of mainstreaming, "To ask, Does it work? is to ask the wrong question." He believes that full inclusion and mainstreaming should be the only choice available to us because it is the right choice, the right thing to do. He makes an analogy with slavery. Slavery, he says, was abolished because it was morally wrong, not because it didn't work. He also asserts that objective scientific data are irrelevant, because the issue is a moral one.
I disagree strongly with Biklen on both counts. Biklen has the slavery analogy exactly backward: making full inclusion the only option does not resemble the abolition of slavery, but instead the imposition of slavery. Like slavery, full inclusion rejects the idea that people should be free to choose for themselves the options they desire, and compels them to accede to the wishes of others. And as for Biklen's rejection of scientific data, I want my children educated in ways that will assure the best outcome, as learned from scientific studies, not in ways that accord with someone's theory, or ideology, or the educational fad of the year.
Special education consultant Laurence Lieberman is one of the very few educators with the courage to speak out and tell the wrong. Recently the National Association of State Boards of Education endorsed the principle of full inclusion of students with disabilities. Lieberman's insightful response, published as a letter to the editor inEducationWeek for December 16, 1992, is a classic, and is reprinted here in part:
"People involved in education cannot agree on school choice, on promotion policies, on achievement testing, on curricula, teaching approaches, or the distribution of condoms. But all the state boards of education can agree on full inclusion for all disabled students?"This is obviously a money issue, pure and simple. The key may be found in the paragraph in your story that says a new report from NASBE proposes that funds be provided on the basis of instructional need, not head counts. That need seems to have been already predetermined by the organization; full inclusion in regular classrooms for all disabled students.
"The article-and quite possibly the report-refuses to deal with the real nature of some children, which might require that they not be in a regular classroom.
"Some educators would place the issue of full inclusion solely in the realm of morality. Anything separate is evil. There may be a higher immorality than separateness: lack of progress, lack of achievement, lack of skills, and splintered learning of meaningless academic trivia.
"There is the issue that special education hasn't been effective. Where, and for whom and why? Because it has been too separate? Unlikely. There regular classroom is not separate by definition. Has it worked? Sometimes, but not all of the time. Placing severely disabled students in regular classrooms presupposes a level of individualization that does not exist.
"Some educators believe that disabled children will be much more accepted, and society as a whole will show much greater compassion for the disabled, if all children are in regular classrooms. Knowledge does not necessarily lead to compassion.
"There is a common belief that when disabled children are in physical proximity to normal children they will tend to adopt more normal behavior patterns. This is obviously not the case with many autistic children, who generally begin life surrounded by normal families."Full inclusion is not the right thing to do. It isone right thing to do, sometimes.
"Any organization...that endorses full inclusion is taking an extremist position that has no place in an educational system and a society that prides itself on its choices and multiple ways to achieve a desired quality of life."
I agree with Lieberman. If special education for autism is destroyed, it will be lost for at least one generation, and perhaps several.