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Whoaa!!!!

March 16, 2013

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I …. we……had one of the most topsy-turvy weeks in our little family life.  On Monday of last week I found out through a phone call that we got our son into one of the schools we were trying for.  We were happy, excited, and relieved.  The school came so highly recommended to us, and the open house we went to, blew us away.  The Kindergarten teachers were kind and friendly, and when we told them the honest truth about our son and his ASD and AD/HD they said they didn’t see a problem with it and they have had other children before with those kinds of special needs.  GREAT!!! HURRAY!   I filled out the application to enroll and included info on his special needs.  We got the actual acceptance letter on Wednesday.  I thought “let’s frame this!”  Ha!  I sat down looking at it and thought I could relax about school… for a while.  Until………………………………..

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I had to go to the school to bring in all the paperwork needed to register him.  You know all the usual stuff…. birth certificate ,  shot records, proof of address.. blah blah blah.  I thought to myself, WOW this is a neat moment!  I’m getting my little guy all set for school.  We will be a part of this school, and get to know the staff, and all the teachers and do PTA, and school field trips.  And the first 5 mins went really well!!  The school secretary was very nice and making copies and I told her how excited we were to be a part of this school. She was all smiles.  Then came the point of no return.  I told her I brought my son’s IEP with me if they wanted a copy.  Her face dropped and she asked “What is it for?”  I said “He’s mildly autistic, very high functioning, and AD/HD”  She looked at me and said “Well he can’t come to this school.  There are special schools for him to go to.”  I was shocked.  I was stunned.  I know my mouth was hanging open.  I lost sight and hearing for a moment. And then I became  ANGRY.

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My first thought was  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?  Special schools?!?!?!?!?  Excuse me??  But I didn’t yell it.  I said ” What do you mean he can’t go here??  You are part of the school district.”  She explained that since they were a magnet school they didn’t have to support special needs.  I started to shake.  I made complete eye contact and kept my voice as even and low as possible (which I have been told is sorta scary.  Oh well)  and I said to this woman:  “I am not putting my son into a special school, I also am not throwing my son into a classroom with 32 children and one teacher. You accepted him, you sent me a letter.  I have been upfront and honest with your school through the open house, the application form and now with this IEP I am sharing with you now”  I could barely hear since my heartbeat was pounding in my ears.  It was all I could do to not start screaming.  This woman was yanking away our hopes for our son.  I dug my nail into my hand so I wouldn’t start crying.  She could hardly look at me and had her head buried in the IEP.  I knew she just figured out she bit more off then she chew.  I think she was shocked that I didn’t just scamper off like a frightened rabbit.  I’m anything but that.  I was on a roll now.  I told her I was aware they had an autistic child WITH AN AID in their school.  OH BOY… I saw I stuck a nerve.  She snapped that they put that child in another school, a “special” school, one that could meet his needs.  Oh…. I see… She has no idea about Autism.  NO IDEA.  Her perception was ignorant, she didn’t know my son.  She doesn’t know that his IQ is high and he’s very verbal and he’s academically ready for Kindergarten right now. I knew I would get no where with her.  She asked if I wanted to speak to the principle and I said yes, but of course the principal was out to lunch.  So I had to collect all the paper work, leave my number and hope that I got a call back.  I was spinning and although I was furious, I was sick to my stomach and didn’t know exactly what I was going to do.

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Fortunately I had my sunglasses with me.  I cried on the walk back to my car.   I cried on my drive home.  I cried once I got home.  I cried when I called my husband.  I cried when I talked to my Mom.  I felt helpless.  I felt like I had been blindsided.  What would we do?  What would I say to this principle?  Do I want him at this school now with this kind of perception?  The biggest thing was….  How could he be shunned, turned away, rejected when they didn’t even know him?  Wow, this feeling is awful, hurtful and painful.  And now I have to talk to the principal and say….. what?  When I finally got the call from the principle I was worn out, and at my wits end.  She was very nice and we talked for an hour.  We talked about what would be the best from my son and if he could handle the rigorous curriculum this school provided.  She invited me to observe a kindergarten class and then we could have a meeting after.  Fine… I just want his spot held until we can figure out what we are going to do.   But my closing point to her was this : “I have never felt like my son wasn’t welcomed somewhere due to his Autism until today…. your secretary made me feel completely unwelcome, your school made me feel completely unwelcome. (I started to cry, but I didn’t care at this point) He is my son, he is bright, intelligent, funny, charming and worth something. I don’t want him sent off to some special class or allowed to fall into the cracks. He deserves the best education, just like every child.”  She was very quite and then said how sorry she was, that no one should ever be made to feel that way, and that she would have a talk with the school secretary. Good.  If anything comes out of this, maybe some sensitivity training happens.  I hope no other family already dealing with the day-to-day trials and tribulations that comes with Autism has this happen to them.  Now we have more on our plate then ever before.  We need to really look and figure out what will be best for our son.  I have, for the most part, surrounded ourselves with friends and family that are super supportive, loving, and understanding.  He’s never had to feel this sting.  And I hope he never will.

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 I promise him every night when I put him to bed that I will always do the best I can for him, and I tell him what a lucky Mommy I am to have him for a son right before I kiss him good night.  It’s all true.  No matter how upset or tired or beat up I feel, he’s worth the fight.

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4 Comments
  1. It’s so sad when we have to fight for basic rights, like the best education possible. Unless this is a private school, they cannot turn him away. They may want to (because they don’t want to spend the money on an aide), but they can’t, and they are in a catch-22 now, because he has already been accepted and can’t be denied on any (I’m assuming) academic basis, even if it is a magnet school. Get the name and number of a good advocate, one who has worked in the district before, so that you can namedrop if they start to push you into the “special school” territory.

  2. This is so heartbreaking! And that secretary needs to get a clue. She is not in any position to be telling you whether you can or cannot enroll your child. She can, however, take your paperwork, and then make a phone call to those who are in authority afterwards if she has any questions. It’s a shame that she doesn’t understand that each child is different, with different needs. It sounds like your son will thrive in a “regular” school rather than a school for those in special education. I hope they get to understand that clearly when he goes to their school. And I hope you never have to feel this way again because someone doesn’t understand that your son is so much more than his autism.

  3. That is appalling and disgusting! You had every right to react the way you did! I hope it works out! Keep us posted!

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  1. Maybe things fall apart, so better things can come together! | Coffee With A Side Of Autism

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