Advocating

As parents, we must advocate for our children

Dreena Melea Tischler April 18, 2014
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The captain - haircut

A couple of weeks ago we had the ARD meeting to set my son’s educational plan. At the meeting, we set an uneasy goal to send “The Captain” on to kindergarten next year. I left unsettled.

As the next week or two went by, I began to worry. The Captain was struggling at school. He was hitting, fit-throwing and generally uncooperative for at least part of each two-hour school day. How on earth could this child succeed at a 7-hour day with “regular” kids. Not that The Captain is “irregular.” But his little PEAR class (Pre-school Expressive and Receptive language program) has only a handful of 3 to 5 year olds, all with speech deficits and many with other special needs. The class is led by a trio of loving, patient adults who recognize that this group needs different pacing than a similarly aged group would need.

Recently something seems to have triggered our son’s post-traumatic stress disorder. As is often the case, we have no idea what triggered it. Perhaps he saw or heard something that revived a traumatic memory. There is no way of knowing. All we know is that after several successful weeks in school, lately he has been struggling, at school and at home. All we can do is reinforce our love for him but also make it clear that certain behaviors (hitting, throwing rocks) are not acceptable at any time.

In light of this and my worries, I talked to his primary care pediatrician, our developmental pediatrician and his therapist. None of these experts could see this child succeeding in Kinder. I’m new to all of this; my older children do not have these special needs are are home schooled. All three of my son’s “experts” thought we should advocate for a different plan. When I contacted his teacher for suggestions on how to challenge the IEP, she responded quickly.

“I’ve been rethinking it too,” she said. “This child is not ready for Kindergarten. We will call another ARD and re-write the plan.”

What a relief. I also learned that a parent can call an ARD meeting at any time. So we will set up a new plan that we think will help ensure his success. Perhaps it will be a half-day Pre-K program or even a program for kids with delays. In any case, it will provide a stepping stone from his current two-hour school day to a longer day of school.

What I am learning through all of this is that as a parent, we do need to keep advocating for our children’s needs. No one knows them better than we do and even with all the experts in our world, we need to trust that “knowing” in ourselves. Cheers!

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Dreena Melea Tischler


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