The Progress Report
We both received our son’s progress report in an email and an envelope sent home with our autistic son’s backpack. What we saw immediately was that something was not quite right with what the school district measured as student success and how our son was being assessed in the educational academic categories and student grades. To make a long story short, mom(me) went into full anxious mode … how could this be missed and now what are we going to do for next year and beyond. ***SIGH****
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The Reaction and Research
Did I mention that I went into full out panic attack anxiety mode? Okay fast forward to my reaction and how I handled this shocker. I immediately went into research mode to see what my local school district’s report card was, in regards to special education students and if they improved at all or otherwise over time from 6th grade to high school. It did not look very promising when it came to academic progress over time…it pretty much looked the same and there really was no steady improvement overall in Math & ELA and then when it came to high school it looked like the testing just stopped. It didn’t make any sense. What happens to special needs autistic children after high school? Where are they? What are they doing?
The Aha Moment
The more I researched, the more I realized that for some of these autistic students, there may not be high school or college because of how they learn, what they learn, and overall excellent parent advocates to help them navigate life’s journey. As parents of a special needs autistic child, the road is long, arduous, hard, emotional, gut wrenching….did I mention hard. It is like climbing a slippery noodle everyday of your life and then slipping down each and every time you climb, but knowing that you have to get back up again. At least that is how it feels to us:-). But at the end of the day and even in the midst of our IEP/Progress Meeting for the day I realized that we are doing the best we can with the resources that the school provides and that we attain on our own or through other means. The meeting went great. Were there questions that were unanswered, sure, but I think that most of what we wanted, as our son’s advocates was touched upon and answered with utmost clarity and professionalism.
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Overall the one take away that I can say with clarity and undeniable truth is that whenever something doesn’t feel right or look right, then it probably isn’t. And if so, SPEAK UP! What you don’ t say can have an indirect consequence good or bad on your son or daughter’s academics for the rest of their lives. It is so important to teach yourself the ins an outs of how an IEP works, progress reports, and meetings and what is coming for the following year. A team that communicates well, is a team that will stand the test of time, regarding your special needs child. Also if you come across and IEP team that really does a terrible job of communicating and/or don’t usually follow through on your emails or otherwise is a definite RED FLAG. As a parent advocate, we know and can usually tell pretty quickly if something did not work out right and/or if there is a personality clash. But we address it immediately before it gets out of hand or misunderstood altogether. This way you get what you need and be heard as well as the IEP team as well, so that there are no surprises, especially when there is so much at stake when it comes to your special needs child and their lifelong academic needs and otherwise. Keep advocating and Fighting for your loved one on the spectrum or otherwise and make sure you keep being a squeaky wheel until you are heard loud and clear.
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Mandu Usoro is a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, experienced homeschooler and US Army Veteran with a BS Degree in Social Work and AA Degrees in Psychology as well as Health Care Administration. She enjoys spending time with her family, advocating for her special needs son and writing for fun and inspiration. You can get in touch with her on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and at https://www.homeschoolspecneedstidbits.com/contact-us