Remember I said that last Tuesday, a high-up in my school system said that it was disingenuous of me to say that my son hadn't grown in the four years that she had known him, and that when she first started in our school system, he was by himself with only adults around him, and now he's successful in the STEM program, and that it was through the work of his Special Education teams, she said, that he had grown to where he is now?
I've spent a good deal of time thinking about that meeting and about this little exchange -- not really an exchange since all I said was that I hadn't said that, but you know what I mean -- a lot more time than it really deserves. One of the things that I try to do is to allow myself the knee-jerk emotional response that is human nature (but try hard not to act on that knee-jerk emotional response) and then peel back the layers of emotions. What's left is generally the truth.
I've already talked about my son's early placement. Apparently that wasn't the only thing that was bothering me, and I've finally put my finger on what the rest of it is: "Through the work of his Special Education teams." The people on my son's Special Education teams have been, in general, kind and caring -- rarely truly educated about Asperger's and how it affects students in general and my son in particular, and maybe not brave enough to tackle the barriers that prevented him from receiving both Special Education interventions as well as appropriate input -- but kind and caring.
That's all well and good, but what's bothering me is that if good has come to my son through the work of his team, I've had to fight to get him that team and those services. Time after time, his services have been cut out, whittled down, watered down, variations of what's available. I've made requests for what I believe he needs, been denied, followed through, gotten bits and pieces, gotten lip service, gotten the run-around. I've had to go through his documents with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that what was discussed was included, and recently, to make sure that items weren't cut without my knowledge or consent. And the relatively new "online IEP" limits my child even more as it waters down the "individualized" component of it by providing drop-down menus without providing "other" categories. ("We're sorry. We can't do that; the computer won't let us word it that way." Find a way.)
I asked for the kind of program that he needs at the end of Kindergarten. I asked for what he needs at county-level IEP meetings in 2nd and 4th grades. Eventually I was told that the Special Education Department didn't have to get him the curriculum that matched his abilities, but if it were otherwise gotten, they'd work with it. I got it for him. And I was told that he could have no modifications or accommodations in the STEM program. I had to learn which accommodations were considered, after the fact, to be acceptable. And just this week, administration said that students with IEPs that met the basic criteria for acceptance into the STEM program could have appropriate accommodations but no modifications. I'm waiting on the definition of "appropriate." Now the fight is for explicit, planned teaching of his life skills: social and executive functioning skills.