i have been having issues with the school board here for years. having 3 kids who have autism spectrum disorders means dealing with the district a bunch for a long time generally alone and winging it most of the time. it means advocating for your children constantly. it also means having to have the ability to decipher the lies from the half-truths they feed you. it becomes mind-numbing. many parents are trying their best, doing everything they know how to advocate for their children. society tells us, these are ppl who have been taught how to educate, trust them. but the fact is the school district is a business, and your child’s future is the commodity.
my youngest son just moved high schools. he has aspergers, and in this district there is one high school out of the three high schools that “work with kids with autism spectrum disorders”. they have these special classes for them. the teachers, administrators, staff, librarians, and other students are not taught about autism spectrum disorders, but see this is where they go. in grade school there were two options for your child:self-contained (meaning a class of only children on iep’s with the same diagnosis as your child) or mainstream (being with neurotypical kids) and sometimes they would allow you to mainstream part of the time and self-contain the other, but those were the options. in middle school things changed. they added a new class-resource. this is a class for kids with iep’s who are not severe enough to stay in self-contained any longer. the curriculum is minimal therefore the teachers have to make little adjustment for each student’s iep, it’s cheaper that way. this spills over into the high school. so you have self-contained, resource then mainstreamed regular education. but the kids who are on iep’s rarely get to see the inside of a regular education classroom. why? because then the teacher would have to modify their work and it is too much to ask for. the schools also offer college prep courses like advanced placement, but those are definitely off limits.
so here is the rub….there are about 1 in 88 ppl who are on the autism spectrum. but there is not alot of real education about autism spectrum disorders happening. there is a bullshit “advocacy” group called autism speaks (gag, spit) that feeds the media nonsense, but the word autism is thrown around alot. autism speaks vilifies autism and ppl with autism. they believe in the curation of those who are autistic, and anything that can make a child “more normal” is a go. the truth is this: autism is a neurological disability that affects communication, development and social areas. seeing as how it is actually a difference in the neurological makeup of the autistic person there is no separating the person from the autism. their brain, neurons, neurotransmitters the whole neuro-kitandcaboodle are autistic. if you were to take the autism away from the autistic they would not be the person they are at all. and to make autism look like a scary monster is to make the autistic person a scary monster.
if autism is so prevalent, why are educators so undereducated about how to educate this large population of ppl? i can only say what we have experienced, but i can say that i know many ppl throughout the usa and everyone that i know has had similar experiences. autism is not cut and dry. it is a spectrum and every person with autism spectrum disorders is different from everyone else with autism spectrum disorders. in our district, teachers are paid so little many need a parttime job to supplement their income. the district doesn’t want to pay for educator training. so, instead of treating everyone as an individual with their own strengths and abilities, using those to help overcome the individual obstacles, they have looked at the average and made these special classes with this special curriculum for the “average autistic person”. this saves time and money-especially money. when in a meeting as a parent with an autistic child, they say “well, you child has autism so they are a visual learner, and here is a list of modifications we will do for your kid! aren’t you happy you didn’t have to think of anything yourself? see we know autism, we specialize in it! we know what your kid needs way more than you do! we are the authorities, sign this paper”. it is you on one side of the table and at least 7 school officials on the other. it is an intimidation tactic.
now, my sons are perfectly capable of learning anything you put in front of them. they do need some modifications, but they do not need to be in slow paced classrooms so the individual modifications are not needed. that is cheating them out of their education. we were not told our children were in resource classes until this year with our youngest son. our middle son is a senior and our oldest is working on getting his ged bc high school was so terrible for him he could not handle it anymore. when helping our oldest son get his ged we figured out they stopped teaching math at a 3rd grade level. there will be no child who graduates from high school who was in resource math that will have anything higher than 3rd grade education in this school district. insane right? doesn’t make sense! but from a fiscal perspective, a money-making concept it makes perfect sense.
we moved our youngest son to a new high school last week, and i said i wanted him out of resource classes altogether. i want him in ap classes. he has scored high enough on the standardized tests to warrant that. he is a smart kid. all of my kids are wicked smart, but the older two were never given the chance. they were labeled and never allowed to go any further than 3rd grade, despite their ability. i am sad that i didn’t know this before. i let them down. but that doesn’t mean our youngest should not be allowed to go as far as his mind can go. i will not sit idly by and continue to allow this.
as far as our oldest son-he is learning math from his girlfriend who is going to college to study astrophysics. she taught him more in 2 months than he learned in 11 years of school. he is an avid reader and a writer. he loves history and science. he considers himself a anarcho-socialist and has a passion for chaos theory. i have no doubt he will be attending the same college as his girlfriend in a year. he wants to go into psychology to help kids who have been mistreated and misunderstood.
our middle son studies culinary arts. he attends half a day at high school and then goes to the votech and takes culinary arts. he is an amazing cook. he is also extremely intelligent and well read. he is very politically charged, and considers himself a democrat. he reads magazines and newspapers and stays pretty up to date on what is happening around the world. he knows more about heavy metal/black metal/death metal/ than most musicians. he reads comic books alot and has a great sense of humor.
our youngest son is, well, one of the most compassionate ppl i have ever met. he likes to read. he is a fan of manga, anime, comic books and homestuck. he stands up to bullies. he likes history and science alot. he likes art and is hilarious.
o and i also need to add that all of our children have friends. many friends! they all are socially aware and activists in their own rite. they tell jokes, use sarcasm, tie their shoes, communicate, and are empathetic.