From Emotions to Advocacy
The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam & Pete Wright
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Year in Review Series
My Special Education Journey from Emotions to Advocacy
special education journey started 10 years ago at a small rural county
in southeastern Georgia. My son had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit
Disorder at age 5.
I attended every IEP meeting (with the exception of one in which I was not invited) and I was completely available to the district. I listened to their continuous complaints and I punished my son consecutively because of their wishes.
my son learned at a very early age how to exaggerate the truth, I believed
the teachers/principals/vice principals. I took to him to doctors and
paid for testing outside of the district. I noticed the doctors and
psychologists raising their eyebrows over incidents that occurred at
school. But I continued to believe in the system. After all, I had known
most of these professionals for most of my life.
One day, I picked him up early for a doctor’s appointment. It was at lunch time and his teacher invited me to have lunch with him. As he approached a table with his classmates I followed.
All of a sudden I heard this loud, yelling voice from across the lunchroom. A lady yelled his name out and said “You know you can't sit at that table with the other children, you can't sit there because you can’t leave others alone”.
son was humiliated as was I. The lady did not realize I was his mother.
I turned to her and told her about her bad attitude and rudeness.
He said something to me that will ring in my ears for the rest of my life. He said “Well, I don’t know what he did but it musta been something bad because he has been sitting at this table all year long”.
day opened my eyes, my ears and my heart for my son. I looked back at
the incidents that had occurred during the years. I started realizing
the wrongness and injustices that happened at school.
started reading everything I could find on my son’s disability. I called
every person in the State of Georgia that had any knowledge of Special
Education and Disabilities.
I started to ask questions at every IEP meeting. I tape recorded every meeting. I took friends to the meetings with me. I started to create a paper trail. I organized his file in three 3-ring binders. I kept notes on every conversation I had with school district personnel. I requested copies of every educational record the school had on my son.
By the time he entered the 8th grade, he had been on total shutdown since the 6th grade. I dreaded every IEP meeting. I think the school personnel dreaded them too.
grade was the greatest nightmare. The teachers hated me. I felt the
same about them.
weeks before the end of the year, my son was sent to the “isolation”
room for inappropriate behavior. He was there from 10:00 AM. until the
end of the day.
day came. I purchased a new outfit for my son. I was determined he would
attend because it was his right. My 13 year old son cried and begged
me not to make him go to graduation. He said, “Mom, I never want to
go back to that school again and I never want to see any of those teachers
again in my life.”
Help - The Comprehensive Evaluation
His IQ scores have dropped steadily since he entered school. His verbal IQ is now 73 and Performance IQ is 103. He reads on a 3rd grade level, written expression is on a First grade level and comprehension is on a Kindergarten level.
Linda and Kevin have driven nearly 5 hours back and forth from Atlanta to attend two IEP meetings with me and my husband. They have moved mountains.
My son is now 16 years old. He is repeating the 9th grade for the third time. In my opinion, my son was abandoned when he began special education. Sadly, my son is not alone - many schools do not tolerate children who learn differently.
Leads to Empowerment
to know and believe in my son has been the most rewarding experience
Advocating for your child is difficult. The “professionals” who work in schools believe you are over-protective. They tell you that it is your fault when your child does not learn - that you are standing in your child’s way.
Today, I say “No ma’am, no sir, IT IS YA’LL THAT ‘S STANDING IN MY CHILD’S WAY”!
Becky Milton lives in Georgia where she helps other parents advocate for their children.
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