Alright – so, someone from DHS asked me a while ago why I don’t advocate in the public education system and autism. So – I started thinking about this including my own experiences with the public education system. I started speaking with autism parents and asking their experiences with school districts. I also started asking education advocates what their thoughts were in autism and public schools.
What I found was surprisingly shocking. First, most parents are not happy with their child’s public school. Second, most advocates said – the system is designed and stacked against the parents. One advocate said “the goal of the school district is to overwhelm the parents, make them exhausted, tired and eventually give up and stop fighting for their child because no one can fight forever”. Another advocate said “while the majority of superintendents and special education directors are good at their core, they hire ruthless and cruel gatekeepers whose sole purpose is to take the low hanging fruit and screw with the rest”. Some parents said “always use the words – due process because school districts hate that”. Other parents said “just home school your child because it is a fight not worth fighting”
More parents said “we need to keep complaining and filing formal complains with the Minnesota Department of Education”. Some other parents said “we should just start autism charter school similar to Lionsgate and others in the country”. I tried really hard to find a parent who was in content with the public education their child was getting from public schools. I simply could not find. Those that did not complain simply said “it is not good but what is the alternative”.
If you google special education attorneys and advocates – there are thousands of them. This makes me really sad because these folks would not exist if school districts did what was best for the child with autism. Normally, I get energized when I see discrimination, inequality, differential treatments, and disparity from autism parents. Then I try to advocate in changing policies & guidelines to ensure individuals with autism are treated with dignity, are taught to their best outcome in a manner that enhances their quality of life and that of their family. And, to some extent – I have been successful but the education system task seems painfully hard and a tall order.
With this in mind, I am going to start as I usually do and say “Rome was not build in a day and a journey of thousand steps starts with one single step”. These sayings used to keep me going whenever I would get overwhelmed in my autism advocacy.
Let’s start with what the current federal and state laws say about special education and autism. What does it say, what rights does the child have, what rights do the parents have, what are the responsibilities of the school districts, what happens if they don’t follow it, what are the consequences, etc. The education system does not fail students with autism, it is rather the people in charge of those systems that fail students with autism and their families. The question is what can be done about it and who can do it.
Stay tuned as I find out more about these layers and layers of information and start advocating to hopefully some kind of a meaningful policy change that will impact students with autism in a positive and productive manner.
As usual, above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom.