We all have dreams for our children. Autism doesn’t take away our dreams – it only changes them according to our child’s abilities. And so, we still dream.

My dreams for Nigel have certainly changed over the years, but I still have them. And so does he. Some of those dreams have come to include the possibility of a post-secondary education, which seems out of reach given his academic challenges and the lack of local resources to address those challenges. So, we found a resource – a special school – that can teach him the skills he needs to be able to work independently, and I foolishly believed that all I needed to do was fill out a bunch of paperwork and enroll him.

I had no idea that the administration at his current school might not agree that this is something that he needs. I had no idea that they would be reluctant to change his IEP to reflect that his academic needs would be better met in a non-public school setting. I had no idea that the minor hoops I envisioned jumping through would turn into major hurdles.

The special school we would like Nigel to attend costs more per year than my entire college education did. Even when I sell my house I will not be able to pay the tuition out of pocket. However, we can receive funding if the change is made to his IEP, if it designates that his needs would be better met in a non-public school. I approached the special education coordinator at Nigel’s current school, and she discussed it with the district sped coordinator. They declined¬†our request, stating that Nigel has made progress and “is capable with supports to maintain grades.” We have an IEP meeting scheduled next week to discuss this further. Nigel’s father, who lives 700 miles away, will attend via conference call.

Yes, Nigel has grown. He has come so far. But the fact is that the progress he has made has been behavioral and social. And while this is indeed wonderful, his academic needs are not being addressed. The grades that he “maintains” are heavily modified. The teachers do not even assign him homework! He can barely complete the class assignments, even with constant assistance. I know that they like him and care about him, but it appears that they are just pushing him through. If he cannot work independently, he will not be able to attend college. It’s wonderful that he receives so much academic support; the special education coordinator helps him every day to do his work. But he needs to learn the necessary executive function skills to be able to do it on his own, and I don’t expect him to learn that in a public school setting.

I know that some of the professionals who have worked with my son have read this blog before and might be reading this post. I really hope that they do. Because I want to say this to them:¬† Please. Please think of Nigel’s academic needs. Please think of the dreams that he has. Please give him the opportunity to utilize the best academic resource that is available. He needs more specialized instruction than what you are able to provide. I do not fault you for this, especially since he is only the fourth ASD student to attend your school. I truly appreciate all that you have done for my son. Please just do this one last thing for him. Please.

24 thoughts on “Please

  1. osh

    Praying and praying and praying for you and Nigel…I know this feeling all too well…and it pains me when other parents are in the same situation.

    Our IEP is on Friday.

  2. Tera

    Oh Tanya, what a letdown. Please. I’ll join you in begging…let his dreams have a chance to become a reality. Mama, take a deep breath…remember to breathe.

  3. Jenn E

    Grrrrr!! We should not have to beg to get our children what they are entitled to by federal law.

    I hope Nigel gets what he needs. Sending good thoughts!



  4. Carrie

    I’m getting Mary on it. You may want to consult with a special needs attorney, and then slip that in at the IEP meeting. I know a great one here you could call, if there isn’t one there. They don’t want a lawsuit. Believe me. Then they’ll have to pay for the school AND the lawsuit!

  5. Jess

    You also might consider a liscenced advocate – much lower coat than an attorney but often very effective.

    Wishing it were easier.

  6. Lex Savko

    This is really aggravating! I think Carrie and Jess have the right idea – you need a representative on your side who will fight for Nigel. These roadblocks are ridiculous and you made some excellent points in this post as to why he NEEDS this. Because every person has a NEED to for independence; the potential Nigel has to fulfill that executive function can only be done in a non-public school setting. Stay tenacious, Tanya. I believe this dream can become reality.

  7. Paulene Angela

    Oh Tanya, can I scream with you.

    Not understanding the US system totally, I believe you can take a doctor or another professional along with you to the meeting.

  8. Lydia

    It’s sooo frustrating when what you KNOW he needs is different from what “they” THINK he needs. I run into this with myself all the time. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  9. Mary (MPJ)

    My experience with school districts is that they are happy to help if it doesn’t cost anything. If there are any costs associated, there is a fight — even when the teachers and administrators agree with my assessment of what my son needs, they are bound by their budgets to fight against it.

  10. Kristine

    I wrote a great nice long post last night and then my computer crashed. I was so frustrated. I will try and remember what I wrote and write again later. You and Nigel are in my thoughts, and dont give up the fight for what is right.

  11. macrina lesniak

    WOW, they’re naively and selfishly thinking that any progress is good enough. Their goal is obviously the short term, and your goal is Nigel’s lifetime. I’ll pray for you and Aaron to say the right things, and for wisdom and compassion for Nigel’s educational professionals.

  12. Elise

    Most districts will not ok an out of district placement unless under extremem pressure becuase of the expense. If you were going to send him to a pogrm that “they” oked that might be different, but private special education school does not fit into their finances. While they can’t tell you its financial becuawse that would be an illegal reason not to ok a private placeent, that is the reason.
    On the other hand, if he is still passing, say with Cs, they do not have to ok an out ofdistrict placement. Legally there is nothig that says he has to get As or Bs. He jsut needs an appropriate education and that has been held to be as long as he is learning and Cs are considered learning.
    Alternatively get a lawyer to help yu sue the ditrcit, or I thought you were moving to LA. Get someone down in the LA school district to start helping you with that. Every district is different too.You might not find that LA is as diificult about out of district programs or they might actually have a program they run themselves that fits Nigel’s needs.
    Sorry I can’t give you some different advice, but this is the route you may have to go.
    In the meantime, do you supplement Nigel with tutors or anything of that nature? I am sorry if you talk about it I jsut haven’t read that far back. I found that alot of districts do not understand how to teach our chidlren and that I do have to supplement with a tutoring service or even to help out with my highschooler. It does help.

  13. Cheryl

    Oh, Tanya, I feel your frustration and aggrivation! I know what it’s like to have “officials” that are supposed to be “experts” with children and advocate for their needs, who seem to be playing God and abuse their “power” by trying to fit each child into a box instead of looking at each individual child’s needs and situations, and listening to what the parents have to say. The really sad part is that they seem to do this very nonchalantly and chalk it up to protocal, and once their mind is made up it’s as though it’s etched in stone. I’m praying that they will re-evaluate their decision, cut through all of the red tape and listen to the people that actually KNOW Nigel and his needs the best, his parents!!! I’ve often wondered how some of these people live with themselves and can’t even think about how it would be if the shoe was on the other foot. Stay strong and remember that you have lots of people pulling for you and Nigel! God’s still on the throne, and nothing passes by unnoticed! :0)

  14. Johanna

    So frustrating and so much what I sense is going on here in the UK too. My son doesn’t have “screaming needs” at the moment and it is very difficult to get the system to understand that “managing ok” is not enough. I want the playing field evened out, so my son’s potential has the same change as neurotypical children’s. And this means intervention before there is a catastrophy. I hope from all of my heart that you succeed getting Nigel to that special programme and that you get it paid for. Nigel deserves it and so does the society. He won’t be able to contribute without the executive functions. (And again I so see my son’s future here, he will have to learn all these things too). All my llove and support to you and your family.

  15. Nicki

    I hope the people at Nigel’s school will reconsider! You know your son better than they do. If you really think he’d do better at the other school, they need to seriously look into it!

  16. Tanya Savko Post author

    Thank you all for your encouragement and support. It means so much to be a part of this community.

  17. Anonymom

    Tanya-I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. I didn’t know this glitch had arisen. What’s the status now? You know that I went through due process.

  18. Pingback: Teen Autism » Blog Archive » Some Good

  19. Pingback: At the Threshold | Tanya Savko

Comments are closed.