Friday, July 06, 2007

The Money Wars

Another article for your consideration: Who Pays for Special Ed?

Don't forget to peruse the comments. Unless you have high blood pressure, in which case I suggest you avoid them.

My thoughts: hurrah for this family, getting the services that is their child's right. No, let me say that again. They are his RIGHT. Just as my lovely little Andy has a right to a free, appropriate public education, so does my Joey. And so does Luke. Until people understand that letting a child rot is NOT appropriate in ANY circumstance, our entire society suffers. Until people who do not have special needs kids really understand what "special needs" means, and what education is about, there will be ignorant idiots who declare that paying for children such as Luke and Joey are a waste of money. And those ignorant idiots will continue to put up my blood pressure.


I got a call from Joey's new summer teacher today. I was pleased to find her proactive enough to call and want to talk about Joey. I had made a powerpoint to use at his IEP meeting, and she had a copy of that, but wanted to be sure there was nothing else she should know. I mentioned a few things, like the ASL and that if he's having trouble, I need to know, and I was happy to answer questions or help. She seems like a very nice lady. She's training to be the future autism teacher in the lower elementary.

I joined a gym. Partly because for the price of preschool, I get the opportunity to hae 2 hours of childcare twice per day. That's four hours, whenever i want (and can use it). They also have a nice kid's pool with sprinklers and stuff. And Mom is buying it for me, because she's a cool Grandma like that. It's been a big hit. Joey and Andy have been having a ball while I get some exercise in, and then splashing the pool together. Since I go in the morning, and they have lots of adults to help with the kids, the kid room has kind of "assigned" a staff member to stick with and shadow Joey, and that has worked out beautifully- and wthout me really requesting it (I just warned them that he is autistic.) He's been loving it there. But I had to tel them that he was going back to school, and they at least acted very sad.

That is one of Joey's great strengths- he charms the people who work with him. As my Mom always says, "Joey loves the world and the world loves Joey!" I have rarely met children who exude that whole outlook the way Joey does. Joey loves living, being with people, doing and being and laughing. Everyone is his friend, and it is hard to prove otherwise. I know that eventually this may be a problem, but right now, it is a whole way of being that makes people want to help him, want to know him, want to listen to what he has to say and share and be. I will be very, very sad when he discovers he can't go through life that way. He should be able to, it should be the way the world is... but it isn't.

People remember Joey. They ask abotu Joey. They want to know Joey and see Joey and be with Joey. I've seen him charm the governor of Virginia. I'm seen him charm his teachers, his therapists, even the grumpy Sunday school teacher. He has charmed the entire Saturday church service. I think it must be because people do wish the world was like this. It is so much more pleasant when the world is full of friendly faces.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy July Fourth. Part 2

It is Fourth of July- and that means FIREWORKS! My boys love to watch fireworks, and talk abotu fireworks- but not listen to fireworks. Whistles and pops are not their friends. Joey spent mostof teh display with his fingers on his ears. Andy started with fingers, then tried jamming green cherry tomatoes in them, and finally hid under Grandma's chair. But would he go inside or sit on Mom's lap? NosireeBob, he wanted to see his fireworks!

Although Andy is considered "NT"- he is not autistic- he does have sensory integration dysfunction. This is not considered a disabling condition, but it seems to me that many of the "problems" we see in Joey we also see in Andy, because the cause is a problem with sensory issues. So though I don't have two autistic children, it sure can sometimes look like I do. When both kids are telling me "too loud, Mommy!" and the NT one is the one under the chair... well, it makes for an interesting Fourth of July.

Happy July Fourth

Just some thoughts on freedom...

I am free to take my autistic child into public. I can teach him hands-on how to deal with social situations, different lighting, and public spaces.

I am free to hug my boys tight. And smooch them. And poke their tummies. And tell them I love them.

I am free to get my children medical treatment wherever I want. I might have to pay for it, but I am free to do it.

I am free to drink a beer in front of my kids in my own back yard.

I am free to feed my kids healthy food and clean water.

I am free to speak and educate people who come up to me and complain about my child's behavior. I am free to discuss autism. I am free to discuss sesnory integration disorder. I am free to tell them to shut up and leave me alone.

I am free to take my children to Church. I can even go twice a week and let Joey listen to the music on Saturdays. I am free choose the church, temple, spiritual circle, or other religion and religious area or group in which my child will be raised to understand God. Or no religion at all, if I so wish. I am even free to visit religious structures and groups other than the one I belong to.

I am free to blog about my children, my life, autism, sensory integration disorder, or anything else that is on my mind.

I am free to buy milk, or anything else I need, on Sunday.

I am free to telephone my friends, from my own livingroom.

I am free to spend evenings soaking in a bathtub with lots of bubbles and a glass of wine, and any book I want to read.

I am free to drive my kids to therapy, the store, the toy store, the farm, the mountains, the beach, or anywhere else I want.

I am free to refuse to allow a gun in my home.

I am free to walk across the street and talk to my neighbors, and let my kids play with their kids, no matter who they are.

I am free to kiss my husband. Whenever I feel like it.

I am free to wear my hair any way I like, and color it bright pink if I so desire.

I am free to write emails to my representatives in government and educate them about autism and special education.

I am free to wear comfy t-shirts and jeans.

I am free to let the dishes sit in the sink, let the grass go to seed, or let the laundry pile up on the floor. I am also free to clean the dishes, cut my own grass, and fold my laundry, even if it is a day or two later than planned.

I am free to teach my kids song lyrics such as For What It's Worth, To Everything There is a Season (Turn, Turn, Turn), or even England Swings.

I am free to be me.

Not everyone on this planet is so lucky, folks.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Four Second Fury

If you have ever played Four Second Fury, you have a concept of my life. I understand that this is normal for people with small children.

The boys are outside. I have exactly four seconds to blog.

Oops, missed the opportunity. Now they are outside again. Now I have four sec

Back outside. My ac unit is hating me right now. So are the cats. But at least I have four seconds to

Sitting on the couches now. Maybe I can

Yes. Four second fury. How much can YOU type in four seconds?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Without Compare

Allan's family came by yesterday. We took them out to Wakefield, and the berry farm, and had a lovely afternoon of it. Best of all, there were no other little kids around to compare Joey to. This means that everybody just saw a happy, loving, sweet little guy, rather than the focus being on Joey's weaknesses. He was charming, cute, and adorable, as was his brother, and fun was had by all.

They seemed pretty shocked when they asked about school, and discovered he would be in a self-contained classroom. Most folks are shocked to learn this, but it seemed especially odd to them, seeing how delightful life can be with my guys. Joey was having a "good" day on top of it, so we didn't have a lot of tracking or screaming or anything that would showcase Joey's problems. Why put a happy, darling little sweetheart in a self-contained classroom?

Remember, these people are not special ed folks. They have the same ignorance of special ed, how it works, and what it is about as most people seem to have. To them, a self-contained classroom is a place where kids who are very severely disabled go. Joey is not "very severely disabled." And yes, if he had an aide, he's probably be OK in a regular classroom- but our school would rather be sued than hire a 1:1 aide. The teacher is good. So there you go.

WE went with the teacher angle. Its the easiest to explain to folks who have no clue. People tend to understand "low student" teacher ratio with excellent teacher."