WOW! Never Thought my Letter Would Show up in the Special Ed Advocate

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I just reviewed your Summer School for Parents: Lesson #4. I am the mom who wrote about the need for a particular type of placement for my son with autism. Never thought that my letter about How I Got the School to Change My Son’s Program & Placement would show up there!

Here’s the further result.

My son is now 17. He is in all regular ed classes. He gets LOTS of supports and takes the same final tests all the other students do. He is on the honor roll. He intends to write books and movies in his future, and I believe he will! He also knows that he wants to have a job to support himself while he writes those books and movies, so he is taking courses in his area of interest.

I can hear some folks thinking – Yeah, but his disability must be pretty mild.

In fact, his level on an autism scale would fall in the moderately affected range. He did not read fluently or from “chapter” books until he was 13. He still requires assistance when writing more than a couple of words. He still needs visual icons connected to content material for storage and retrieval. And thanks to following the FETA (From Emotions to Advocacy) process consistently over the years, he gets all those supports.

This is not a fluke. This is the result of many hours of meetings, evaluations, discussions, notes, and work. It is the result of food brought to meetings, thank you notes written, emotions kept out of letters, assertiveness rather than aggressiveness. It is the result of alliances deliberately developed. Do not think this is a do it once and that’s it process. It will require your direct and very personal involvement from today forward. But it does work!

Take one step. Read one chapter. Document one particular meeting or conversation. It is a one step at a time process, done consistently. Hang in there and do not give up. Things can be changed to become more positive, more responsive, and more appropriate for your child.

I cannot thank Pete and Pam enough. I have followed the web site, newsletter, and now the blog for over 10 years. Their knowledge is invaluable. So keep reading and learning and applying what you have learned. It will help you get where you want to be.

-Debbie from New York


    I’ve known for some time now that my son, 9, needed additional support in and out of school, but when I went to a meeting and the school handed me an IEP that said ED, I was somewhat in shocked. I Had my son tested, and all results came back ADHD, but now I’m told to get the classification to MD- I’m so confused!!!!!! Can you help, please?

  2. My daughter is an academically gifted, highly intelligent high school student who has recently suffered a traumatic event which has exacerbated underlying depression. She was recently hospitalized and now I am seeking placement in an alternative school. The school will most likely classify her as emotionally disturbed if I want the placement. I am worried about sending her to a school for emotionally disturbed kids when her academic abilities are so high. Will this do irreversible damage to her college admissions process?

  3. I have a son that has also been diagnosed with Autism on the moderate side. However, we live in a very small, uneducated community. The school he attends has him in the Multiple handicap unit over 70% of his day stating it is due to his behavior. However, his behavior is never dealt with only by not letting him participate in the regular classroom because he is disturbing the others. He was to be put in the regular science class this year. I then find out he is only attending that class 1-2 times a week because he is disruptive. No plan of action is made by the school to rectify his behavior at school. This battle seems never ending. He is a very bright child with a wonderful personality and the kids in his class just love him and are very over proctective. I feel he will never be in a regular classroom on a regular basis.

  4. Way to go Debbie – the sky is the limit for your son thanks to your hard work with support from FETA.

    We beat the Dept of Defense Dependents School (DoDDS) using FETA. We had to get all the evaluations done, fight the school to get the results, and have them explained to us one-on-one.
    My wife helped each teacher and each provider develop their the IEP. It was tailored for our son thanks to my wife’s effort, FETA and my course work for M. Ed. in Spec Ed.

    The school did not realize what they signed until it was too late. They tried to renege when I deployed – just when wife and son need stability. Using FETA my wife held the school accountable. School caved and continued service.

    It can be done with time, energy, and keeping the stress from your child at same time – very hard.
    Big thanks to Wrightslaw, our son has a tailor made IEP.


  5. Livia, You probably can arrange to attend your daughter’s speech therapy session, if you approach it carefully. If you go in showing that you do not trust the therapist, it will defeat your purpose. Think how you would feel if someone came in to your daily activities with that attitude.

    One alternative could be to approach it as you would like to observe so you can utilize more accurate follow through at home. If you can reinforce the therapy the SLT is providing, it could maximize the outcome for your daughter. This might get you in to the therapy sessions, and even better, could improve your daughter’s outcome.

  6. My daughter’s speech therapist failed to provide services last year 30 times(30 sessions). She is now providing compensatory speech, but I do not trust her. Can I attend my daughters speech sessions. I’d like to see for myself what and how she is providing instruction.

  7. Debbie,

    I agree that the needs should drive the services. My son had a medical diagnosis but we were convinced that the same services could be offered with OHI (Other Health Impaired). In our case there was a distinct difference in available services between the two classifications even though we kept the same kid.

    We too have had a measurable amount of advocacy skills training over the past five years. Our sixteen year old now has A’s in college prep courses and is on his school’s soccer team. I think of his education as the one that didn’t get away.

    I am not sure of all of the motives when school staff proposes to classify kids who have an A S diagnosis under OHI or ED. I do know now that children in our state will not meet the criteria for Autism classification if they have been previously classified as Emotionally Disturbed. This was suggested as an option at the time we settled for the OHI classification.

  8. Recently, Ive taken on the State Dept of ED and … Public School System, for failing to provide Fair Equal Public Education to inner city children under the NCLB Act. The… Public School System has willfully compelled me to ignore students rights to be instructed by Highly Qualified Core Academic Certified Teachers.

    The Inner City students are failing because the administration, state, and U.S. have no governing support system in place to protect the teachers when they speak out regarding these violations.

    Tell me how I can obtain a list of educational lawyers:

  9. Hi David

    I like reading those from others as well! My son has a classification of autism. When he was younger, before he had a medical diagnosis, his classification was speech and language impaired. While you always want an accurate classification, I learned that the label doesn’t drive the services, the needs drive the services. that made it easier too work with the school on changing or not changing the lable.

  10. I like hearing these stories of successful advocacy. I am curious to know how your son is classified on his IEP. (OHI, ED etc).

    Keep up the good work !

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