Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Educational System Woes
For average parents, having children that are school age is a time when they have the ability to shift their focus away from their children temporarily and place it on other things like employment, community involvement or caring for the home.
Of course there are still things like homework, agendas to sign, pizza money to produce, parent teacher interviews to attend and special days to remember but for the most part there are 7 hours per day that a parent can breath a little because the teacher is in charge - this is not the case for many parents who have children with special needs.
On my way home from groceries the other day I happened to see a child standing on the sidewalk which is off school property, he was casually throwing giant chunks of snow onto the road. As I got closer I realized that the child was actually mine.
The child that is supposed to be under the watchful eye of an educational assistant at all times.
I pulled over and we had a chat about what he was doing and why he was somewhere that he shouldn't have been. About 5 minutes passed and then the bell rang and I sent him on his way. By this point I was angry and called the school from my cell phone. While speaking to his teacher I explained that this was insanely dangerous as Riddick lacks all knowledge about safety and will without thought walk into the road or wander off with a stranger (especially if they have a dog),
The teacher seemed shocked and said that she would call me back momentarily - which she did.
Apparently the EA that is normally with him and another child during breaks had to stay inside as the other student lost her recess privileges. She assumed that the teacher made other arrangements for supervision and the teacher assumed that the routine was happening as usual. In reality Riddick was unsupervised for 40 long and dangerous minutes. I am just thankful that its me that drove by and not a pedophile or child abductor.
This is not the first time that something like this has occurred, I've discovered that Riddick was being supervised at breaks by children only slightly older then himself and on one occasion a supply EA allowed him to walk home alone simply because he told her that he was "allowed".
Riddick has not been able to attend school trips because there hasn't been adequate supervision and this was only remedied when I called the trustee and issued a complaint.
Since JK I have been saying that the "normal" school setting is not the right place for Riddick, at 8 he functions like a toddler and his days are wasted focusing on modified academics that are still too advanced for him. Those hours could be better spent learning life skills like stranger danger and not to eat entire packs of ex-lax or fling snot at friends.
After being a part of the "team" for my other son who has autism I learned what I should be doing with the educational system and what steps I need to take.
Once I started asking questions I was shocked at what hadnt been done for Riddick. In grade 3 he still hadn't been deemed "exceptional" which meant that the board recognized that he has "special needs" - without this being in place nothing happens.
I demanded that this be done and within a week (which is a miracle) Riddick had a psychoeductional assessment done and he was classified.
I also strongly recommended that he transfer schools to one with a class specifically for children with needs like his own.... after 5 years of making the same request they have finally agreed.
Now I will need to attend something called an IPRC meeting which is basically a team of professionals that will decide if that setting will be beneficial for him. As I did for my other son I will be attending this meeting with my "guns" blazing.
As scary as these issues of neglect are at school they only make my case better for the move.
Being a parent of a child/ren with special needs comes with enough complications without daily fear for their safety when they are with trained professionals but sadly for many of us its a part of life.
Hopefully soon I will get things stable and secure with school but then in the blink of an eye it will be high school and the the issues will again resurface.
So when you see a woman in line at Starbucks with bags under her eyes, tousled hair and stress lines on her face before thinking "God she looks unkempt" instead think..... perhaps she has a child with special needs and is getting ready for her morning shift of parking in front of the school yard to ensure that her child doesn't outwit the teachers and run away while chasing a wild squirrel.