To Wrightslaw – “Thanks for Taking the Heat”

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I know that you get a lot of heat, but I can testify that it is very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are walking backwards. I really needed you to turn me around and show me the way. I’ve learned so much through your website and this experience – I just had to let you know.

The “heat” doesn’t bother us, it shows us we are on the right track!!

Read this mother’s story.  Learn how she struggles against school culture to get a safe and proper placement for her non-verbal son with autism…

Dear Wrightslaw:

Thank you for your website and e-mail newsletter. It is very encouraging and supportive. It helped me to get through the worst time of my life… 2 years of dealing with a deceptive and physically abusive school district.

My severely autistic son who is non-verbal was not only in an inappropriate placement with physically handicapped children, but he was also coming home with bruises, cuts, and scratches from being restrained daily.

It was torture for me, a mother of four, to see my disabled 8 year old child so beaten.

I went to CPS and the Police to no avail.  They only investigate family abuse. I decided to hire a lawyer. However, I soon ran out of money for the lawyer, and she dropped me.

In desperation, I searched for an advocate at COPAA.  She helped my son get out of that inappropriate placement and into a non-public autism school.

I should say here that three IEEs played the important role.  It is different when a mom tells the school that her son is in the wrong placement.  I’m am ‘biased and not certified’ to know anything.

When three specialists, who do not know my son, evaluate him and say that he is in the wrong placement, it makes a difference.

I learned so much through your website and this experience. I know that you get a lot of heat, but I can testify that it is very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are walking backwards. I really needed you to turn me around and show me the way.

We feel so blessed by you sharing your knowledge.

Thanks for taking the time to write and share your story. We assume your son is in a safe school now.

Yes, it’s different when a parent says a program and placement is not appropriate – no one pays much attention to how parents view these issues because parents are “emotionally involved” with their child. Of course, being emotionally involved doesn’t mean you are incapable of knowing what’s good or bad for your child, or that you don’t know what your child needs. That is part of school culture. These beliefs are very hard to change.

The heat doesn’t bother us, it shows us we are on the right track.

You wrote, “it is very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are walking backwards. I really needed you to turn me around and show me the way.”

Yes, it must be very hard to see that light. We’ve come a good distance since the IDEA was passed in 1975. It’s hard to appreciate that progress unless you are old like us and you remember the bad old days when many kids with disabilities were systematically barred from attending school … period.

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Debbie

Susan, you are so right! Watching the transformation from frustrated, angry, and hopeless to informed, empowered and assertive is so inspiring. And you are right, it is the student that wins, every time. It can also spread; to other parents, and to school staff. When they see the kid start to succeed, some will realize that parents can be illuminating members of the team. The administration may start to realize that the laws do have force. And occasionally, they see that following the law is not only more effective, but cost efficient as well!

SusanB

Nothing is as sweet as watching this “parent evolution.” When a parent moves from being angry, overly emotional, and ineffective to an informed, advocate and a force to be reckoned with…..the kid WINS! IDEA and NCLB are movements for more equitable education for ALL kids. Parents have always been and continue to be at the forefront of this movement. Every parent who turns that corner, who moves from “Emotions to Advocacy” becomes another soldier in this army! Together, WE CAN!