The Principal called this morning. I knew why. I just wasn't sure if he would or how the school might respond to the letters I had sent. That's what I've been busy writing lately — letters of disagreement.
To back track a bit, after DeDe's PPT, I could not shake the feeling that the way the school had handled everything was sorely misguided and simply wrong, unjust even. As far as I knew, the school was obligated to provide testing in light of her recent diagnosis. And honestly, as my child's advocate, having been so horribly unsuccessful in eliciting any understanding or empathy for her situation during the PPT, I felt I had failed her, too.
Would I need to hire an advocate like we resorted to to regain services for C.S.? I didn't think her situation warranted that expense. And I was miffed to think I hadn't gained any skills in the whole PPT-process we endured with him already. But, next to regaining those services, the best outcome we have realized after formally diagnosing and "labeling" our son with ASD (autism) has been the network of information and support we've found in other parents of children with differences or disabilities. I think my favorite part of going to my children's "buddy groups" (social skills workshops), is the little impromptu support group that forms between the parents in the waiting room. There we share stories of our trials and triumphs, insight concerning what worked, what didn't and tips on advocating for our children. It would make sense that parents like us form a group to help advise each other concerning such skills.
Well, of course such a group already exists. One of of these friends shared an important link with me for The Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center, Inc.,or CPAC a group that does just that — educate parents concerning their rights and advise them on how best to advocate for their children. I had passed it along since, but for the life of me, don't know why I didn't think to contact them prior to DeDe's PPT. I guess I just thought I was a veteran who could handle these sorts of things, especially since I was simply inquiring about testing not demanding full services as I had for C.S.
But never too late, eh. I contacted them, if anything to just inquire whether I did or did not have the right to request testing in light of a diagnosis and concerns that there was simply more at play here than just ADD.
Well, I discovered I DID ... and so much more. They were incredibly informative, helpful and supportive. Based upon their recommendations, I made the next step ... I let the school know I disagreed with the results of the PPT and I filed a formal complaint with the state — and I did it was the law behind me. That law incidentally is Child Find, a provision of the Individuals with Disiabilities Education Act or IDEA
Under Child Find, the district is obligated to evaluate and identify any child they suspect may be a child with a disability. Such disabilities include ADD and AD/HD, etc.
And so now, I can come to the table and face a five-member, acronym and jargon spouting team NOT as a mother pleading for them to please understand, please help me help my child, but as a citizen with a law behind me to protect my rights. After all, it shouldn't be about how passionately I can plead my case to them — it's the law, plain and simple.
Well, I certainly seem to have gotten their ear now. I delivered the letters a couple of days ago. I got the call this morning. My husband and I have accepted the Principal's invitation. I'm not sure what the goal really is. I'm really not sure whether there is a possibility of testing still or not. I think what they want is to appease us or somehow defuse the situation because they're afraid we might sue the school or district. We're going because we want him to hear us, hear our concerns and understand our complaint because the principles of the matter are important to us too. After all, laws are there not so we can avoid impassioned pleas, but to protect humanity. It's this sense of humanity we're trying to reach.
Silver Linging: Being a fierce, fighting, information-seeking, nighttime-Googling, blogging, silver-lining seeking Advocate is not an avocation I would have ever in a million years sought to do. It is what I became. It grew out of the love for my children and is fueled by my maternal instincts. And just like the other mothers I run into in buddy group waiting rooms, at the playground with a big kid in the toddler swing or in the blogosphere — while it is an emotional roller-coaster, I've realized it is a source of infinite and inspiring power. I've not seen one mother turn-away for these job responsibilities.