Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Substantiated: Your Intuition is Right

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I just returned from SensiGirl's IEP meeting. She is doing amazingly well. She is academically on target and behaviorally, and socially improving every day.  Her speech teacher in school is so impressed with her and sings her praises every chance she gets now. A big change from how it was at the beginning of the year. I am reminded of how far we have come in a year. I am grateful to her teachers and specialists for all the hard work they do educating her.
I saw the school district's autism placement specialist earlier this week and remember how hard I worked to get SensiGirl into her present placement. It wasn't easy. I had to write emails, tour schools, interview teachers and then listen to my gut and put my brain into overdrive to figure out how I was going to get SensiGirl what she needed.
It is important that as a parent you listen to your intuition; if you don't feel right about a program, teacher, or placement or classroom, don't dismiss it and think the school district's experts know better. More than likely they don't. You know your child better than any other person they come in contact with, and it is up to you to advocate what is best for them.
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I just knew after touring our nearby school that the special education program there wasn't what I wanted for SensiGirl. There were all kinds of alarms going off inside of me, but I was trying to ignore them, since this would be the simple path. The advisers said this school would be appropriate for SensiGirl and she would be close to home, and in school with the neighborhood kids. I couldn't do it; I couldn't quiet my intuition about the teacher there who was burnt out and needing a break.
Unfortunately Random Guy was not so lucky. I hadn't fully found my voice to advocate for him when he was experiencing a bad teacher. The alarms went off on the first day of second grade when Professor Umbridge failed to direct him (as we discussed) out the correct door at school and I was not waiting outside the one he exited. He panicked, as did I when I realized he was not coming out the correct door. As I frantically looked for him with help from my neighbor, Random Guy ran home and luckily found Grandma waiting for him. The teacher only made excuses and didn't really seem to care, since Random Guy was found safe.

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More failures continued throughout the school year culminating with her blaming him for being bullied and humiliating him in front of his class for not completing an assignment. As much as I tried to work with the school social worker, principal and teacher, they were all failing my child. I decided it could not continue. We moved Random Guy to another school (see here: My Child Did What?) and he is making wonderful progress.
You must follow the link below, read this article and watch the video about what can happen at school. You would do well to listen to your parental alarms and do the hard thing to get the best for your child. FAPE or Free and APpropriate Education has to mean appropriate. Bullying from teachers is never appropriate and teachers who bully should not be allowed to teach, no matter what the union contract says. Break the bully culture in our schools!

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