IT HAPPENED AGAIN😡. Today in my classroom there was another incident of a student calling another student autistic, in a negative way. I had to stop the class and educate them on autism, my son, and the fact that behavior like that is derogatory and will not be tolerated. To some of my students, autistic means dumb! I had to let them know how wrong they were in their thinking. It’s so unfortunate that this is happening more and more. We cannot stop the advocacy. Just think of how many other kids and adults that probably think this same way.
We are 5 weeks into the school year and so far MJ is doing great! He has been handling his homework well and still enjoys going to school. This school year he has art as an elective and so far he really seems to be enjoying that class. Soon he will begin his social skills class again as well as Swim Buddies! I will update again soon.
We had MJ’s conference a few weeks ago. At the onset, there was a lot of tension in the air. I immediately asked how MJ was doing in class. I wanted to be sure that he was doing everything he was supposed to be doing while at school. She said that Mj was doing well in academics and behavior. I then began discussing the various issues that we were having…completed work not being graded, no communication from her, homework not labeled/no instructions given, etc. The most important issue we addressed was her lack of curriculum. She told me of various websites that she utilizes for resources in her classroom as well as a textbook that she uses for math. All the while I was thinking, “why didn’t she tell me this at Open House (sigh).” I then turned my attention to the ESE specialist and again voiced my frustration about the lack of resources that are offered to our special needs kiddos ( I can talk about this issues for hours because it disgusts me so much). She agreed with my concerns and said that she would “look into it.” I haven’t heard from her since our conference but I will be following up with her in a few weeks. Since the conference, I will admit that things have gotten better. A routine is now established and the homework is no longer overwhelming. Here’s to hoping and praying that the rest of the school year continues to get better!
This is the second time in a year that I have heard one child say this to another child. It happened right in front of me and I had to use everything within my mind, soul, and body to remain as adult and professional as I could without “going off” on the child.
After taking a long, deep breath I explained to her that the statement was ignorant, rude, and offensive. I explained how intelligent Autistics are and how they think and see the world differently. I encouraged her to do some research. Then I proceeded to show her my huge autism pin along with two autism bracelets that I was wearing proudly!
It made me extremely sad for the entire day. I kept thinking, “Where are they getting this information from? Of all of the things that could have been said, why was “autistic” chosen?” It showed me that WE STILL HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO! If we want our kids to truly be accepted, then kids and adults must be educated about autism. I also wondered, why did I hear it? Is this something God wanted me to hear for a reason?
Towards the end of the day, the child did apologize but it didn’t change the way that I felt and still feel. MJ does not deserve a world that thinks so little of him.
As this school year has progressed, I’ve kept watch over MJ’s classwork and homework. I’ve kept notes of the homework he is given as well as notes regarding the classwork they say he does in class. One component has been missing…The students have no online curriculum! Yes, they have access to textbooks online but there is nothing in place to help engage the students and sharpen their skills in the areas of reading and math. During one parent teacher conference this year, my husband and I made it clear that we wanted MJ to work on an online program during class. MJ constantly tells me that he is on Starfall.com! While I love Starfall, because it did help MJ to read, I don’t feel this is something that he should still be using in school. For goodness sakes, he has been using it since he was 3 years old! I wouldn’t mind if MJ used is for free time or before dismissal, but it appeared to me that he used it daily while at school. After our meeting, I followed up with an email about our request for an online program. Our request was basically ignored by all individuals. Since I work in the school system, I see what is made available to the general education students. This year, for example, 2 online programs were purchased by the district, for use in the general education classes. Now we all know that these online program costs thousandssssss of dollarssssss. We were told to incorporate these programs into our curriculum. They ended up being great programs that helped to engage students and reinforce reading skills at each child’s reading level. As the days went on I got angry. I thought, Why doesn’t MJ and all of the other special needs students have access to a program like this? Why isn’t a program available for them? Aren’t they just as important as the general education students?” At that moment I was compelled to resolve this issue. I sent an email to all of the district personnel in charge of the special needs program, including the autism curriculum person. I quickly received a, “thank you for your email, we’ll get back with you” response. After 2 days I did receive an email stating that they would look into the information. Five days after that, I received an email and telephone call from a woman in charge of curriculum for MJs school. She informed me that she visited his classroom, unannounced, and observed MJ, the teachers, and the instruction for the day. She then said, “His teacher is very old fashioned.” I actually laughed when I heard this because this is not news to me. She then went on to explain that she gave his teacher a list of online resources that he can use in the classroom and requested that I give her a week to find out more information. Well, guess what was in MJs bookbag that day…He came home with the same list of resources. After that week, I emailed the woman and the autism curriculum person AGAIN to clarify my request…I DON’T WANT A LIST OF RESOURCES THAT HE CAN USE AT HOME! I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S BUTT ABOUT HOW OLD FASHIONED HIS TEACHER IS! WHAT I WANT AND WHAT HE NEEDS IS TO USE AN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM IN THE CLASSROOM, JUST AS THE GENERAL EDUCATION STUDENTS DO (sigh)! I wrote that to them as professionally as I possibly could. The next day I received an email stating the online program that he would use as well as the fact that it would be used with fidelity and that training would be given to all necessary personnel. You better believe that I will be ensuring that this takes place next school year and thereafter.
It is sickening to me that something was not already in place. It’s sickening to me that they don’t value MJ and other special needs children the way that they value the general education students. It’s sickening to me that better instructional strategies aren’t being used in his classroom. They will not deprive my son of having FREE and APPROPRIATE EDUCATION. That will never happen under my watch.
This is the reply you receive:
Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing such a wonderful idea! We will certainly add an awareness day and work on creating an awareness initiative to our calendar for the 2016-2017 school year. We will work with our teachers and provide them with additional information/awareness on the topic of autism.
Have a great day!
You better believe as an autism parent and PTO member I will be involved and inquiring about these activities for next year. This was the first operation year for the school so I wanted to see what/if they had any activities planned. I was saddened that nothing at all was mentioned or planned the entire month. This has to change and it WILL change. I’m going to make sure of it!