Alright – so, Bloomington Public Schools for some unflattering reason several years ago decided to put all students with autism from kinder-garden to eight grade in one long scary and quite hallway. This clearly secluded the kids from their typical peers and kept them out of sight and out of mind. As you can imagine, I was livid and advocated with everything I had. Needless to say, at the beginning I was met with resistance from the district who kept explaining to me – it was my mis-understanding and the kids were not secluded.
Well – have you heard of the saying – if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck – it is a bloody duck. Well – putting students with autism in one corner of a building for ten years from kinder-garden to eight grade was a duck alright. I don’t think segregating and secluding children with autism from their peers is a good idea and is the opposite of least restrictive environment learning under the IDEA law.
At any rate, after many complaints to MDE and US Department of Education, along with the director of special education’s understanding my views – students will now go to their home schools. This means elementary kids with autism will attend school with their peers at an elementary school and middle students with autism will have their classes mixed-in with their typical peers.
An interesting point here is when I asked other parents to join with me in this, most were just too tired to fight or didn’t think anyone would listen to them. I can totally understand this point, but if parents don’t speak for their children with autism then who will?
I personally would like to thank the superintendent of the district and the director of special education who even when we disagreed which was often at the beginning always looked at what was the best interest of the children. I also like thank the commissioner of the state education department who I can’t even count the number of times I’ve called her. Finally, I would like to thank Jan who I call a chamomile tea because she was always the calm voice that provided the glue between the district and me. In the end, the students with autism will benefit from this. Starting next school year in September, no more student with autism will be secluded or segregated from their peers. And, that is priceless.
Above words do not reflect any agency, candidate or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom & Advocate