Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Cannot Lose Him

I remember The Boy clapping his hands on his first birthday.  

And I remember at that time, he had two words:  Mama and Oh Boy.  (Okay, that's three.)

By The Boy's second birthday, he couldn't clap anymore.  

Or point a finger.

Or look me in the eye.  

Or utter a word.  The three words he had.  He lost.  

Somewhere between that first year and second year, I lost him.  It's called Regression.

And we needed an ABA therapist in our home, 15 hours a week, to teach The Boy how to clap.  Point.  Wave.  

And we needed a Speech Pathologist to help The Boy to say Mama.

The Boy's come such a long long way.  He works so hard. 

Does he still have behaviors?  Yes.  

Will he always look me in the eye?  Nope.  

But he's an amazing kid.  Super smart.  Charismatic.  And funny.  

Not everyone sees what I see.  Not everyone believes, the way I believe.

I realized that this morning, when I toured a District 75 school that someone from the district recommended.  This person, has had limited interactions with The Boy.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this person has possibly skimmed The Boy's IEP.  I've given up the belief that anyone from the districts reads the entire IEP.

You may be asking - why I'm touring schools.  Well, after months of going back and forth with the principals, the teacher, the district - they've finally come clean.  The Boy is no longer appropriate for the school program that is so appropriate on paper.

And they are ready to toss him into the first District 75 school with an opening.  

But the people that really know The Boy?  The people that have worked with and truly care for The Boy know that District 75 is not the appropriate placement.  

And the other day, I came across this blog post written by a special needs attorney.  In the post, he writes, "...of the 15,000 children turning 5 who were recently referred to District 75, only 1,000 actually belonged there."  And where did the attorney get that idea from?  Gary Hecht, the superintendent of District 75.   (D'OH!)

Granted that post, was written two years ago.  But like I said.  I toured a District 75 school today.  And I'm going to say it again - THE BOY DOES NOT BELONG THERE!

Quite honestly, what I saw today was quite upsetting.  

I saw a boy strapped in a wooden "wheelchair" being pulled backwards, like he was luggage.      He was missing a shoe and sock. 

I heard paras yelling at children.   

And the man who gave me the tour talked in great detail about "taking down a child."  He also referred to a classroom as a "last stop" before institutionalization.  That classroom, was  third grade room.

I saw an OT/PT room filled with equipment that looked as if it hadn't been moved in months.  

And I saw children in wheelchairs getting their OT/PT services in the hallway because the OT/PT room was in the basement.  And there was no way for the children in wheelchairs to get down to there.

I saw the autistic classrooms, doing "touch your head" and "point to the letter ---."  And that's perfectly fine, if that's what a child needs.  

But that's not what The Boy needs.  

And I didn't see a single child in that school like The Boy.

If placed in that school, The Boy would never have a peer. The Boy would never be challenged.   The Boy will be set back three years.  The Boy will most likely regress.    

And I cannot lose him again.  

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.