Power, Peers, and a Sad Evening: Part III

tuba practice

Last Tuesday, The Boy took me to lunch with a gift card Poppy had given him to do just that. I picked him up from Grammy’s, and we went to McDonald’s. Somewhere along the way, I asked him if he was still sad about the concert.

“Hm,” he said, indicating he didn’t have a ready answer.

“Or maybe you haven’t been thinking about it too much,” I suggested.

“Yeah, I haven’t been thinking about it much,” he parroted back. “I just wish it hadn’t have happened.”

“Me too,” I said. “Those kids made a poor choice, didn’t they?”

“Yes, they did.”

I told him a little bit of the conversation I had with the principal. He asked if the band director had done anything about it. I told him the kids had had to talk to the principal and Mr. Collins about their choices. “The principal didn’t think the kids did it to be mean, though. What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“It’s hard to tell if someone is just being mean, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“They told the principal they did it because you were playing wrong notes.”

“I wasn’t playing wrong notes!” he said, alarmed.

“Even if you were, it still wasn’t their place. You don’t touch other people’s instruments.”

“No, you don’t touch other people’s instruments,” he agreed.

I asked him to tell me if anything like that happened again, and our conversation moved on to other things. He’s sad because he can’t get that performance back. I think he knows the kids treated him differently than they would have treated a neurotypical kid. I think he’s wondering why they did it. I needed him to know the jist of what had been said at the meeting and what the kids involved had said to the principal. He has a right to know. Along with the right to play.

 

Band Plan

I met last week with the high school band director who had attempted to tell me that he didn’t think marching band was a good idea for The Boy, based on the experiences of a boy on the spectrum that had been in it last year. By the way, that boy is a friend of ours and busted his behind for that group, and found it very difficult to make friends in this marching band, but I digress… The high school special education teacher was there too, and I’m so glad she facilitated. She looks like she will be a rockstar for The Boy, and unfortunately, he needs a strong advocate in his own school system.

Shockingly, the band director had changed his tune a bit, although he did point out that the middle school band director also thought marching band would not be a good idea for The Boy, either. “But I’m not closing the door…” he said. Kinda hard when my foot is wedged in it, huh?

IMG_5331I had come prepared with a list of applicable laws, just in case, and a list of modifications and alternatives. Turns out, I didn’t need the laws (since he wasn’t “closing the door”), and when I suggested the first alternative, they both seemed receptive. After hashing out some details, we devised a plan: The Boy will play at Friday night football games only, and will play his sousaphone in the “pit” section, which is where the semi-stationary percussion instruments like xylophones and timpani are. This will allow him to participate without having to learn the “drill” (complicated moves), and without having to rehearse after school every day. He will be in the marching band class, but if they are not rehearsing music, the band director may send The Boy to English with the special education teacher, where he can work on any homework he may have, or get a second “dose” of a subject in which he has deficits.

And he will be in concert band in the spring, regardless of whether or not there is a second, “lower” band.

So, we have successfully shoved that damned door wide open, and created a place for my kid in their program. See how much can be accomplished with open minds at the table?

He’s Like a Hemorrhoid that Just Won’t Go Away

The nightmare continues.

The mobile home park owner has retained an attorney to write me a nasty letter saying the ADA didn’t apply to him or his road (which it does), and that I probably lied about contacting an attorney (and tried to catch me in the “lie” by cc’ing her on the letter), and that my son’s use of the park is a nuisance, which will be remedied by legal action if it doesn’t stop.  Of course, they still insist he is running in front of cars and lying down in the road.  Funny thing is the Chief Deputy Sheriff observed him walking in the park last week, observed him getting off the road when a truck passed by, and went and told the owner face to face that The Boy has every right to walk in that park…

Law enforcement didn’t bow down to him and do what he wanted (in fact, did quite the opposite), so he figures he can buy the last word by retaining an attorney.

But the law isn’t on his side. Now we just have to figure out how far we want to take this…

I have a headache.

Oh, and Happy First Day of School!

The Bigot Just Doesn’t Know When to Quit

If you have followed this saga, you can probably gather from the title of this post that the poor excuse for a human being has upped the ante.

Last week, he called the sheriff’s department with a complaint, purportedly out of concern for The Boy’s safety.

Applies to AllThe Lieutenant knocked on my parent’s door, asking them about The Boy and his activities while he stays with them.  Grammy gave him the whole background. She said he was polite enough, and after he left, she called me to let me know he may call me.  He never called. Not knowing if this visit was legit or not, The Man and I decided to head to the sheriff’s department the next day to request a report from the previous night.  If no report existed, it was not a legit visit, and we were up against a good ol’ boy network.  If it did, we could see who made the complaint, and go from there.

Sure enough, there was a report. And sure enough, the poor excuse for a human being was the one who complained, stating that The Boy “runs around the park constantly” and “refuses to get out of the way of cars,” both utter lies. After reading the report, we requested an appointment with the Sheriff himself, and acquaintance of The Man. He was unavailable, but we were able to see the Chief Deputy, second in command, right away.

I had come prepared (what special needs mom wouldn’t), and had copies of both the letter he had given my mom, and the one I had sent in response (“Well-written letter!” the Chief Deputy commented). I gave him the whole story, he jotted notes as we went along, but I didn’t have to get very far to notice I had won him over.  Just about to the point when the pathetic excuse for a human being told The Man to that we needed to keep our retarded kid inside… yeah, that was about the point he chose sides, and got a steely look in his eyes. He reiterated several times that The Boy has a right to walk wherever he wants. And even if he was constantly running around the park, he has a right to do that, too. He said the next step would be to get a restraining order against the pathetic excuse for a human being, and that sometimes that ended things, but other times that just escalated the situation. He recommended speaking to our lawyer to see what she recommended. We discussed setting up a chance for The Boy to meet a deputy in uniform o that he would feel comfortable, to which he was extremely accommodating (“Anytime you want to set something up like that, just give me ac all and we will make it happen,”), and we inquired about the training his deputies have in autism, to which he said they were all trained in CIT (Critical Intervention Training) which encompassed dealing with those on the autism spectrum, as well as other disorders that might prevent someone from responding to them in an expected fashion.

We walked away heartened and relieved. We are moving forward with a plan for The Boy to meet with a deputy at the mobile home park. I also plan to get in touch with an attorney, even if it sets us back a little.

 

Apparently, this guy doesn’t often have people stand up to him and his bigotry. Unfortunately for him, he has chosen my boy to bully. We’re going to drag this pathetic excuse for a human being into the 21st century, kicking and screaming if we have to.

A Bigot and a Bully

slowLast year, the landlord and owner of the mobile home park where my parents live approached The Man and told him that we needed to “keep (our) retarded kid inside.”  He used the r-word several times in reference to The Boy, even after The Man asked him not to use the word.  He then went on to make wild accusations about The Man, and at the time, I was very proud of my husband for not hauling off and beating the pathetic excuse for a man, because I’m not sure I wouldn’t have gone ape$#!! on him.

Fast forward a year, almost to the day, and this pathetic excuse for a man writes a letter, knocks on my parents’ door and hands it to my mother, saying, “Read this.” He then took a few steps off the porch and said, “I’m sorry but that’s just how I feel,” and walked away.

The letter explained that he had several complaints about The Boy playing in the park roadway, jumping out in front of cars, and lying down on the roadway, as well as using his scooter in the roadway.  He requested that The Boy be supervised at all times while outside.

Let me start by saying that the “speed limit” in the park is 5 miles per hour, with a sign saying “Slow, Children Playing” above every speed limit sign posted in the park, and that new signs were erected within the last two months.  Let me also add that there is no sidewalk in the park, nor is there a “recreation area.”  In addition, other residents and guests of all ages ride their bikes and walk their dogs in the roadway.

My son is thirteen years old, and knows to get out of the way of an oncoming car, even if it is only going 5 miles per hour.  He does not jump out in front of cars, nor does he lie down in the road. But my son is “different” than all the other residents and guests. And that is the basis for this discrimination and harassment.  That is the basis for how this pathetic excuse for a man “feels,” and not any fabricated “complaints.” You kind of give away your “tell” when you call a kid “retarded.”

I have spoken with an attorney, drafted and sent a letter, and copied it to the sheriff’s department as well as the state Attorney General.  This pathetic excuse for a man has not only violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also a state act that was passed to protect the rights of those with disabilities. We also plan to make an appointment with the sheriff’s department to take The Boy there and meet with some deputies, alert them to the situation, and educate them a bit about The Boy and his autism, just in case.

There really are people out there like this pathetic excuse for a man, folks.  They exist and they think they have the right to say and do what they’d like, as well as dictate what those who are different can and can’t do.  They are so wrong, and this good ol’ boy, pathetic excuse for a man is gonna learn how wrong he is.

Teachers: Please Educate Yourselves about IEPs and the Law

School LawLet me preface this by saying that I know the struggles faced by teachers everyday.  I understand the Sisyphean nature of the job, and that it is almost impossible to stay on top of all of the various responsibilities. When I taught, I quickly learned to prioritize those responsibilities, putting the ones that directly impacted kids at the very top.

Knowing your responsibilities to your special education students, and the legal ramifications if those responsibilities aren’t met should be one of your top priorities.

If you’ve followed Simple. I Just Do for awhile, you know that we encountered teachers at the beginning of The Boy’s 6th grade year who acted as if they had never had an autistic students in their classrooms before.  I had to become “that mom” just to ensure that The Boy was receiving the very basic modifications and accommodations.  Truthfully, his IEP was being violated on a daily basis.  Comments from teachers during that time included:

  • “He refused to take the test, so I gave him a zero”
  • “He doesn’t do any work in my room, so he needs to be in the special ed room during my class”
  • “He should take the test the same day as the rest of the class because we have other lessons that he would miss out on”
  • “If he doesn’t understand something, I don’t know how to help him because he won’t tell me what he doesn’t understand”

I have also found that classroom teachers in this state do not modify assignments themselves, most likely because they do not know how.  Somehow, providing these modifications is the responsibility of the special education teacher.  This was not the case in my training and experience up north.

Here’s the thing.  You, as a teacher, can be sued (and possibly have to pay damages out of your own pocket) for not following the IEP, and claiming ignorance will not be a sufficient defense.  Claiming that the special ed teacher didn’t make the modifications for you will not be a sufficient defense. You are responsible for knowing the law (IDEA and ADA, for starters), and for following it, by providing each student’s appropriate modifications.

This past week, I had to be “that mom” again, and send several emails to remind three different teachers about the modifications The Boy is supposed to be receiving.  In one response, from the band director, he mentioned that he was “willing to let (The Boy) play for” the band festival performance that same week, but that he did “not want him to participate in the sight reading portion.”

The Boy has a right to access the same curriculum as his peers, therefore he has a right to participate in both the band festival and the sight reading portion.  And it is the band director’s responsibility to know that.