It’s Always Something

Please do not feed the fearsThis past fall my daughter transferred back into our home school district. It’s a place that for whatever reason seems unable or unwilling to meet Katie’s needs. So now both she and I are in the throes of yet another mid-year transfer. Except there is no place for her to transfer to this time around. Well, no place I am willing to accept.

It took three rounds of this high-stress drama for me to finally let go of my fear-fueled anger. To see that these are hard-working people who simply don’t know enough about autism to do their jobs well. It’s unfortunate, but nothing personal—except it is personal in that my daughter’s future is at stake.

The school personnel are in over their heads. They do not know how to accommodate Katie’s needs. This is the reality.

The other reality is that my sixth grade daughter can’t read, and I know she is more than capable of that.

Part of the problem is that in addition to autism, Katie also has dyslexia. This is an important piece of the puzzle because the “autism way” of teaching is at odds with the multi-sensory approach that she needs to learn. The school may not want to accept this fact, but I am convinced. Barb, the retired special education teacher turned reading tutor, is too. Katie has dyslexia in addition to autism and sensory processing disorder.

Katie is capable of reading with the correct approach. Barb has proven that, and I have to believe that the school personnel know this as well. They just don’t know how to teach her.

Helen Keller and Anne SullivanI need to find someone who can. I’ve said this before: I need to find Katie’s Annie Sullivan.

I do not like what my school district is doing to Katie or to me at the moment, but I am grateful that I have finally been able to let go of the fear and anger. I needed to reach this point in my journey as a parent advocate. In the process, I have learned some things about state special education standards that makes me burn: with rage, injustice, and yes, passion. I feel I will be doing some lobbying in the future, but not right now. First I have to help my daughter.

I don’t know how this chapter of our special education journey will end. I don’t know what NPS I will select. I don’t even know if a school exists that can give Katie what she needs to learn. There are autism NPSs and dyslexia NPSs, but so far neither seem capable of solving the puzzle that is Katie. Each can only address a portion of her needs.

In the interim, we are putting together a home program. This will allow me to experiment and see what works best for Katie. Because clearly, the school district doesn’t know.

It’s a lot of work, researching two separate paths—home program and NPSs—at the same time, but it feels good to be moving in a direction that feels better for Katie (and me).

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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