Three yellow slips in one day. It’s the sixth day of school. You know, I thought I did my homework. I thought I did my prep-work. I had the IEP transferred from Washington state to Virginia this summer. I contacted the district. I went to the school weeks before school started and introduced myself and Bean to the principal and the staff. I have had phone conversations with the teacher. They claim to have all read his IEP “with a fine-tooth comb”. SO WHY IS MY CHILD COMING HOME WITH DISCIPLINE SLIPS that are appropriate for a neurotypical child?!

Bean HAS autism. It’s long and well-established. There is a trail of doctor evaluations, testing, medical results, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special schools, psychologists and specialists behind us lasting nearly seven years. He functions at a fairly high level, relative to himself of several years ago. He does not, and probably will never, function at the level of his neurotypical peers. When that measuring stick is used, he will fail, and fail SPECTACULARLY. Every. Single. Time.

There are modifications made to his homework schedule in his IEP. Now, I understand that and IEP is a legally binding document, and thus the language used is chosen very very carefully. I’ve written extensively about it- for heaven’s sake, I’m getting a double master’s degree in Autism Studies and Special Ed- I get it! There’s a substantive difference between a modification and an accommodation. The previous is something the teacher agrees to do to help the student, the latter is something the staff is legally obligated to do under Federal legislation, namely, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). I’m not a n00b, folks.

So WHY is a PE teacher touching my child? Why is he being given standardized disciplinary warnings that do not appear to have any reference to his educators having read or understanding his IEP? From my reading, it appears the exact wrong things have been done to deal with him. Behavior issues can and should be diffused, and there are ways to do that– touching him, disciplining him in front of the classroom, and upping the stress by sending him home with referrals and threats he doesn’t even understand is decidedly unhelpful.

So. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow? I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, but I am prepared and comfortable being my child’s advocate. I know the teachers are busy at the beginning of the year, and that my child is only one of twenty-plus in the classroom. I understand this, but if we are going to perpetuate the currently popular trend of Inclusion and Immersion for SpEd kids, the support must be there. I know my stuff folks, and while we may be new here in Virginia, we are not new to this process. I’m coming in, and I’m coming armed with information, expectations, and a decided ability to communicate. Let’s get these ducks in a row, and let’s never see another yellow slip come home again.

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