It Only Gets Better AFTER Your Child Leaves Public School
I am the mother of a 32 year old adult with Asperger Syndrome. Without a doubt, the hardest part of his life and the life of his family was while he was in public school. We both literally dreaded most school days.
First of all, it was nearly impossible to get a correct diagnosis. It appears it was then and is still now almost impossible for Texas public schools to find an “educational need” to provide children with Asperger Syndrome a free and appropriate education. When will Texas public schools ever figure out that kids with AS need to know more than academics. Autism Spectrum Disorders create a triad of differences: communication differences, socialization differences, and atypical behaviors. Most kids with AS can do the academic requirements. It’s the socialization, communication and behavioral differences that keep the teacher calling the parents day after day. I’ve always asked myself, why do they call the parent? What can the parent do about it? They are not at the school.
My son started out at a gifted and talented magnet school and was eventually transferred back to his neighborhood school as NOT so gifted and talented. From the first day in school, it was evident that he was not going to fit into their system. He was hyper, asked way too many questions, and had his own unique way of looking at the world. His way of perceiving the world was clearly not the school’s approved way of perceiving the world.
His entire public school existence was ruled by two horrible factors: failure to find a place to fit into the school system of delivery of education, and constant bullying from his peers and some administrative and teaching staff. Years and years of dread was only punctuated by the skill and love of a competent teacher who could figure out how to teach my child while being careful not to let her bosses know that she was doing just that!
We never did find a correct diagnosis. First he received services as “Other Health Impaired” because of ADHD. Then there was lots of discussion about whether he met the criteria as “Emotionally Disturbed.” Needless to say, the school never won that battle. Then it was finally decided, after three different elementary schools and one private school placement in three different school districts, that he met the criteria of “Learning Disabled.” Wow! I’ll say!
We literally moved three times to find a school district who would teach my son in a way that he could learn. Many Texas families do this every year. We are not unique in that respect.
Today my son performs tasks in an engineering position at a major US company. And guess what? He’s still unique and marches to his own drummer. The intent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was to provide an I-N-D-I-V-I-D-U-A-L-I-Z-E-D education program to students with disabilities. This would mean that NO student should have to fit into any existing educational program.
Children with AS deserve an individualized program based on the “educational needs” of academics, socialization training, understanding how to communicate with others and how others communicate with them, and that addresses their atypical behaviors as a part of their Asperger Syndrome.
So, parents—if you survive public school, life only gets better afterwards.