Local School District Versus My Autistic Son

Readability

Local School District Versus My Autistic Son

by Tim­o­thy Imholt

Nor­mally when I write a BLOG I rarely make it about things going on with me. Today I feel that I must rant about a local issue that is impact­ing one of my two sons.

I have a son who is autis­tic. He is a mild case, highly func­tion­ing but he is also at a very cru­cial point in his devel­op­ment (3.5 years old).

For those who aren’t famil­iar with the avail­able ser­vices for these kids there are some amaz­ing ones here in this state (if you can get to them).

Each child is eval­u­ated by teams of pro­fes­sion­als and given what is called an IEP (Indi­vid­u­al­ize Edu­ca­tion Plan). The par­ents and the school dis­trict review the plan (that the team comes up with) and it is even­tu­ally agreed upon. These plans are designed so that kids who are autis­tic (or have other prob­lems) can start even with other kids when you get to the actual k-​12 program.

It is a sys­tem that is far and gone above the one that was around when I was a kid. It really does make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of these children.

We recently moved from one school dis­trict to another in the same State. When we called the new school dis­trict and tried to enroll our son that is when all the fun started.

We did what any good par­ents would do. We called the enroll­ment office at the new dis­trict and said, hey we live here now, our son has this IEP from the other Mass­a­chu­setts dis­trict, let’s get him enrolled.

They said (on the first call) that they were between ses­sions and every­one was out of the office so we would have to call back.

Fast for­ward a week, we call back, and were told that we have to bring his doc­u­mented IEP into this one per­son at the district.

My wife takes the IEP in, drops it off, of course that per­son isn’t there, so it is left with an admin­is­tra­tor who says it will get to this one, and only one per­son, who is per­mit­ted to review it and get the ball rolling.

Fast for­ward another few days, we call back and we get voice­mail. We duti­fully leave a detailed mes­sage and get no return call. I could repeat that story sev­eral times with many more unre­turned calls.

Well, go for­ward another few days, the school year starts…still no return call.

Now school has been in ses­sion a week and we con­tinue to leave mes­sages, call, email, and yet we get noth­ing in return.

Now, if you have an autis­tic child, or know some­one who does you know that breaks in ser­vices for these chil­dren can be very detri­men­tal. They can drive them back­wards in a big hurry and that is not what you want.

Now luck­ily my wife and I are in a posi­tion where we can get him some level of ser­vice pri­vately (not nearly what he needs). We are doing that so at least it isn’t a total break. But if these ser­vices are going to be offered and adver­tised the least the peo­ple charged with enrolling stu­dents can do…is return a phone call. Just once.

Now that I am pay­ing the taxes in this state that pay for these ser­vices I think I should be able to take advan­tage of them. Appar­ently pay­ing taxes doesn’t imply that the ser­vices you pay for are yours to take advan­tage of. So, I will pay for them a sec­ond time and go pri­vate but unfor­tu­nately no every­one has that ability.

I will con­tinue to fight the school dis­trict, as my son, as does every­one else’s (and daugh­ter) deserves bet­ter than this. But I can’t help but won­der, if I were polit­i­cally well con­nected, if I were, per­haps, related to some­one at the school dis­trict, would things be dif­fer­ent? The world may never know, in the mean time I will con­tinue my cru­sade to get my son all of the ser­vices he is sup­posed to receive through the taxes I con­tinue to pay.

Now, I find myself won­der­ing what hap­pens more and more as com­mon core is imple­mented. I won­der if the com­mon­al­ity will be this type of ser­vice across all por­tions of the edu­ca­tional spec­trum. I sure hope not. But there is always Catholic School!

I won­der if the State will reim­burse me the taxes I pay for these ser­vices, as I had to go pay for them pri­vately? Prob­a­bly not. We can always dream I suppose.

by Timothy Imholt

Normally when I write a BLOG I rarely make it about things going on with me. Today I feel that I must rant about a local issue that is impacting one of my two sons.

I have a son who is autistic. He is a mild case, highly functioning but he is also at a very crucial point in his development (3.5 years old).

For those who aren’t familiar with the available services for these kids there are some amazing ones here in this state (if you can get to them).

Each child is evaluated by teams of professionals and given what is called an IEP (Individualize Education Plan). The parents and the school district review the plan (that the team comes up with) and it is eventually agreed upon. These plans are designed so that kids who are autistic (or have other problems) can start even with other kids when you get to the actual k-12 program.

It is a system that is far and gone above the one that was around when I was a kid. It really does make a difference in the lives of these children.

We recently moved from one school district to another in the same State. When we called the new school district and tried to enroll our son that is when all the fun started.

We did what any good parents would do. We called the enrollment office at the new district and said, hey we live here now, our son has this IEP from the other Massachusetts district, let’s get him enrolled.

They said (on the first call) that they were between sessions and everyone was out of the office so we would have to call back.

Fast forward a week, we call back, and were told that we have to bring his documented IEP into this one person at the district.

My wife takes the IEP in, drops it off, of course that person isn’t there, so it is left with an administrator who says it will get to this one, and only one person, who is permitted to review it and get the ball rolling.

Fast forward another few days, we call back and we get voicemail. We dutifully leave a detailed message and get no return call. I could repeat that story several times with many more unreturned calls.

Well, go forward another few days, the school year starts…still no return call.

Now school has been in session a week and we continue to leave messages, call, email, and yet we get nothing in return.

Now, if you have an autistic child, or know someone who does you know that breaks in services for these children can be very detrimental. They can drive them backwards in a big hurry and that is not what you want.

Now luckily my wife and I are in a position where we can get him some level of service privately (not nearly what he needs). We are doing that so at least it isn’t a total break. But if these services are going to be offered and advertised the least the people charged with enrolling students can do…is return a phone call. Just once.

Now that I am paying the taxes in this state that pay for these services I think I should be able to take advantage of them. Apparently paying taxes doesn’t imply that the services you pay for are yours to take advantage of. So, I will pay for them a second time and go private but unfortunately no everyone has that ability.

I will continue to fight the school district, as my son, as does everyone else’s (and daughter) deserves better than this. But I can’t help but wonder, if I were politically well connected, if I were, perhaps, related to someone at the school district, would things be different? The world may never know, in the mean time I will continue my crusade to get my son all of the services he is supposed to receive through the taxes I continue to pay.

Now, I find myself wondering what happens more and more as common core is implemented. I wonder if the commonality will be this type of service across all portions of the educational spectrum. I sure hope not. But there is always Catholic School!

I wonder if the State will reimburse me the taxes I pay for these services, as I had to go pay for them privately? Probably not. We can always dream I suppose.