Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why You Must Not Be Blind When It Comes To Your Child's Education

I was talking to a friend today and some things came to mind. Many people
want to know why I fight with the school district and the State. I have
earned quite a reputation as a crazy mom. There are many people that are
happy with the education that their children are getting and wonder why I am
not. Well, let me explain it to you.

I have known that my son has autism since he was three years old. I lived
in a very small town in Illinois and the district felt that he "wasn't
right" and put him into school. They didn't know what the problem was, but
they were determined to find out and give the best that they had.

This was a town of 1,200 people. Their resources were very limited. I
didn't even know that my child had an issue. I was blind. Something that
would affect my judgment for the next ten years.

These wonderful people put my son into a classroom of six students and two
teachers. They gave him OT and ST. They worked on his social skills. They
worked on any issue that came up. Not because they had to. He didn't even
have an IEP yet. They did it because they saw a child that needed help to
be successful in life. They treated him like a human being that needed
guidance and support. He was not another drain on their budget. They had
practically no budget. It didn't matter. HE mattered.

When my son was five we moved back to Kansas City. This is where my husband
and I were raised. We carefully called and interviewed every school
district on both sides of the state line. We wanted to make sure that Jake
would get the best that Kansas City had to offer.

After several phone calls and interviews we chose Lee's Summit. I went and
told the personnel here that the district in Illinois felt that Jake wasn't
ready for regular kindergarten. They felt that he needed 1 on 1 or small
group instruction for at least one more year. It stated it in his IEP.
Lee's Summit assured me that they were a big district that could handle all
of his needs and issues and that the best thing for Jake was going to
kindergarten. Once again, I was blind.

Jake went to Prairie View from kindergarten through sixth grade. He had
some amazing teachers there. They were kind, supportive, and made
accommodations that his IEP didn't call for. We had no issues there. I
truly felt that we had picked the best school district that we could have.
I volunteered in his classroom every week for at least 2-3 hours. I helped
with the school carnival. I helped with health fair. I wrote to the Kansas
City Star and told them what an amazing job they were doing with my son.

I didn't know much about autism and I felt like the district was doing all
that Jake needed. Little did I know that when he got into high school my
only hope for him would be living in a group home. That is where we are

WHY? Because the district never addressed his autism. They didn't address
his dysgraphia. They didn't address his social issues. They didn't address
his written language issues. Why didn't they? I didn't demand it. In
seventh grade the only goal he had on his IEP was to be able to write a
paragraph. This is a child with autism, dysgraphia, and a written language

I thought that you had to believe in the experts and trust them. That
blindness has caused the loss of my son's independence. If I had educated
myself and fought for him, he would have a different future. His future was
stolen and I stood back and let it happen.

I gave the school district a five year old with potential. They have given
back a child that will never leave home. I let them do this to my child.
My silence and acceptance granted them permission to destroy my son's
future. He could have been an independent tax paying citizen. Now he will
be a burden on tax payers. Not to worry, Lee's Summit. You have no group
homes here, so he won't burden your city.

Your children still have a chance. Your children still have a future. I
pray that none of you ever have to read the following and have it apply to
your child. But, if you continue to sit back and do nothing, you will face
the same situation that I face today. I let the State of Missouri and the
Lee's Summit School District steal my son's future. I will live with that
until the day that I die because Jake will be living with me until the day I
die. What will happen to him after that, only God knows. I pray that you
never have to go to bed at night and think about that.

Education/Training (Required)

Post secondary Goal(s)

Jacob' goal is to attend post-secondary training or a 2 year college with a
focus on computer game designing.

Transition Services


Assist Jacob in information-gathering process: post secondary institutions,
programs of study, prerequisites, registration process, methods for
exploring grants, loans, etc. Encourage to enroll in coursework needed to
pursue computer technology. Academic support as needed.


Recommended that Jacob apply to Vocational Rehabilitation by junior year to
see what kind of assistance may be available if he qualifies. Utilize
assistance from counselor, caseload manager, and outlines provided by the
school when picking courses in line with his goal of comp. game design.
(This is has this whole mess started. These are the people that chose this
engineering class. It turns out that this class is civil engineering


Assist Jacob in exploring the possibility of applying to Vocational
Rehabilitation beginning his junior year. Also assist him in choosing
appropriate coursework to meet his transition goals. Assist Jacob in
visiting a post secondary school, completing registration, and deterring
financial aid needs.

Outside Agency (specify agency) Vocational Rehabilitation

Conference with Jacob and his family on possible post secondary services if
he qualifies. Career Assessment at Joe Herndon will be made available to

Employment (Required)

Post Secondary Goal(s)

Jacob's goal is to be employed in the field of computer game designing.

Transition Services


Assist Jacob in researching employment statistics in the field of computer
game design and related fields. Provide instruction in completing job
applications and role playing interview communication skills. Support
provided in academic areas as needed.


Jacob will practice filling out job applications and will participate in
role-playing communication interview skills. Continue to consider
employment statistics that he has researched. May wish to consider part-time
employment after age 16 outside of the school setting.


Assist Jacob in assimilating researched employment information. Assist with
consideration of part-time employment if family feels that would be a growth
experience after age 16.

Outside Agency

A Vocational Rehabilitation counselor will conference with Jacob and parents
on possible services in the area of employment if he qualifies.

Independent Living

Post Secondary Goals

Jacob plans to live with his parents while receiving post-secondary
education/training. His long-term goal is to live semi-independently in a
group home as an adult.

Transition Services


Jacob will be encouraged to enroll in course work that will help facilitate
independent, living, such as Family and Consumer Science classes. Personal
Finance, auto and home care, etc.


Jacob will enroll and participate in courses to assist with instruction in
independent living skills.


Parents will assist Jacob in choosing appropriate classes for transitional
skills and will support him in hands-on types of assignments that may be
done at home to help in the transference of information. Family may wish to
access services through the Regional Center for sem-independent living as

Outside Agency

May privately assist parents in the area of semi-independent living needs.