Friday, September 12, 2008

The JPS System and My Son...Again

The meeting that I was supposed to have had with my son's IEP (Individualized Education Program) team yesterday was rescheduled for this morning. At 8:30 a.m. (The principal kept asking me if I was all right I was so out of it.) We were trying to solidify the options for my son at school.

Basically, behaviorists will come to the school and observe my child in the class for up to 6 weeks, less if they see that his behavior needs to be controlled right away. The coordinator said that the behavior specialists were knowledgeable of autism so that's a plus. They have also decided that he shouldn't be pulled aside in the regular classroom to work on individual activities; he should stay in the regular classroom full time and be instructed one-on-one after class or after school. I'm not sure which. I guess I will need to ask when I pick my son up after school. I'm not sure what they will do about my son's behavior in the meantime, but I hope this all works.

I let them know I like to have as much communication as possible between us, more than it has been. His regular teacher will now keep a detailed behavior log each day and send it home each night. I was happy to hear this because I thought I should be getting one anyway. I think they will provide more training for the teacher, which is good because she seems so overwhelmed about what to do with my son that she seems to have distanced herself from the whole situation.

They seemed taken off guard at how unprepared they were for dealing with a student with autism. Why were they unprepared? They all mostly seemed to care about my son's well-being, and they were very organized and helpful. They knew he had autism when they placed him in the class. It seemed disappointing that we just seem to be feeling our way around here. The principal told me that they didn't know what to do with my son when he was placed in kindergarten at her school, but since they were obligated to put him in a classroom, they did. Without letting me know that there was any problem whatsoever. Whatever. I don't blame them--it was the district's responsibility to inform them, train them, and give them all the resources they needed.

And speaking of resources, it's so very frustrating at the lack of information and resources that are available around here. When I take my son to speech therapy, I see the parents all huddled in little groups as they share their concerns and worries and how hard it is to find any answers to their problems. I know I haven't found any good answers. I'm tired of going to these national Web sites and seeing every state on the list except Mississippi. I know there are places for people with autism in Mississippi. They are just very hard to learn about and find. I hope that soon Mississippi will start taking a big step in the right direction.

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