We have one child not functioning right now. It's been very difficult and very sad, but we carry on hoping for the next medication to help. (Believe me, we've tried ALL other avenues.) We've just received his updated testing results. We thought we were looking at possibly childhood Bipolar, but it isn't. Instead there really isn't a name for it; it just fits under PDD-NOS still. Rigid thinking, inability to disengage in his thought process. It could be a precursor to OCD. His anxiety is through the roof, and he has dropped out of everything he once loved such as school, scouts, basketball, church. Everything.
Why don't you just make him go, you ask? We've tried. He crumbles. He paces. He head bangs. He needs to feel safe. Somewhere. The school wanted us to call the police and MAKE him go. HA! How hard is it to understand that Mason is NOT doing this because he is manipulating his parents and the system? He has never been that kind of kid. He is innocent, I tell you! Yes, his behavior looks as if he is trying to get out of things that cause him distress, but take a step back and really "see". What is causing this behavior that we haven't seen since he was a toddler? He is approaching puberty, and I have heard some kids on the spectrum go through puberty early. He is 5' 9" and weighs 185 at age 11 years old. This kid has always grown fast so I am sure hormones coupled with chemicals going haywire are contributing to these daily meltdowns. He feels like he is going crazy when his mind gets "stuck". It is so sad to witness.
What I have learned from all this, is that people don't really care unless it affects them personally. The school is too worried about their numbers, or they don't get funding. After 12 years of our kids going to this school, we experienced yet another loss when we had to pull him out of school.
Here is an excerpt from a complaint letter I filed:
During the 2011-2012 school year, Mason started to get headaches. He said he couldn't concentrate in school and couldn't understand the work. The work was getting more difficult and his anxiety level escalated. He began missing school days. We as parents tried many different tactics, from a 'tough love' approach to reducing stressors and we met with his school teacher who did a good job at helping him such as giving him extra time to complete homework, staying after school, etc.
According to teaching staff, he appeared at school to be "checked out". The staff wanted to implement a behavior plan, but we wanted to wait. There was a reason behind his so-called behavior and we needed to get to the bottom of it. We had scheduled many doctor appointments and were waiting to get him in to see his neurologist. It took some time.
In the end, Mason was just not able to attend school without a battle every day. As parents, we knew he was deeply depressed and anxious and this somehow was stemming from difficulty with comprehension due to his PDD-NOS. His physical complaints were an outward display of the inner turmoil he was experiencing. He struggles with expression of speech, and couldn't explain and didn't know why he was struggling so. He just knew he was different than the other students and his previous attempts to fit in, such as using a sense of humor, were not helping anymore. He was in a downhill spiral and had slipped through the cracks.
As his mother, I knew eventually his peers would surpass him in development, but had hoped that we could get him through 8th grade at **** with minor issues. To school staff, it appeared Mason had pulled the wool over his parent's eyes, and he was deliberately being difficult because he wanted to be homeschooled. While that may appear so; one must take in account that a child with Autism has great difficulty expressing themselves and physical complaints are great indicators that we need to look further into what the problem actually is. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have great difficulty LYING. They are concrete thinkers.
Our issues with **** is this: Making assumptions that a child is manipulating their surroundings/parents/teachers is incorrect. Putting undue pressure on parents to "get the child to school, even if you have to call the police" is inappropriate. If a child had a brain tumor and required homebound services, would there be such a battle over attendance? Why should it be any different if a child has mental and emotional problems? We understand **** will not get funding without a 97% attendance average, and staff are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. What about the mental, emotional and physical health of a child? Shouldn't that come first before they can be educated?
We as parents felt intimidated and pressured to get Mason to school. He had missed 16 days of school by February 2012. We had exhausted all available resources and just needed some understanding and patience. We have been affiliated with **** since 2000, when our oldest child started kindergarten.
Frustrated, we pulled Mason out of **** in February 2012 to homeschool him and to get him appropriate services so that he can eventually achieve success.
It would have been helpful if the school could have offered homebound services for Mason. I did not know such a thing existed until recently. Now, because we pulled Mason out of school, he has lost his place at ****. He not only lost his place physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.
A blind child would have had more accommodations in place than a child with High Functioning Autism.
The Center for Disease Control recently released the latest facts: 1 in 88 children in the United States are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. And these stats are 4 years old!
There has been another incidence where we felt intimidated by the dean, ******. Our youngest child with severe Autism had his name drawn in their lottery for acceptance into the school. He was six years old at the time. The special education teacher and ****** expressed their concerns about our son's severe condition and that, because they are a small school, they do not have the space for him if he were to be disruptive. He would have to be taken out in the hallway to stay. They were also concerned that they would have to hire an aide specifically for him and that they needed time to find someone. They were not very positive, but by law, they have to adhere to the rules, and it was very obvious that they did not want a child with severe Autism to be among them. We went home to think about it, and in the end, didn't want to cause the school to be burdened with our severely autistic son.
So tell me, should I sign this letter to request a formal investigation into the school? Or should I just leave it and move on?
I HATE causing waves. I do not like conflict of ANY kind and I shy away from it. I don't know what to do.