2007, Professor, "There Is No Cure For Autism"
IOM and a Three Letter Word

Champagne Wishes and IEP Dreams

Picture_030_2By Kim Stagliano

It's back to school time! I don't know about you, but I have the bottle of bubbly chillin' in the fridge and when the school bus chugs away, so will I. 

It's hard work to fill the long summer days (which begin at 6:00am chez Stagliano) afternoons and evenings with appropriate activities for the kids. Of course, we have three children with autism - so that might skew the difficulty factor. But I know families with more than three (shout out to Mom26 in TX!) who have even MORE work than I do.  And the families with NT kids and an autie have to balance both worlds. I get to exist solely on planet autism.

I'd like to ask you to tell us a bit about the schooling your child receives.  What's happening in your district?  What methodologies does your team use? How satisfied are you? Let it fly. I'll start:

Here in Connecticut, and in Massachusetts, where we lived for the 2006 school year, the programming is far more targetted and specific to autism than it was in our well to do Ohio suburb where the kids got their first 6 years of school. The difference is startling.

We have behavior plans here. ABA paraprofessionals. Actionable IEP's that give a real snapshot of my kids' abilities.  We have autism classrooms, rather than lumping the kids all together, regardless of diagnosis and teaching style requirements.  And for the moment, we seem to have enough funding. Although that could change at any moment.

So, no choosing sides here. No camps. No arguments. Thrill us and use your own name in the comments. We all have to educate our kids.

Your turn.

Kim Stagliano is editor of Rescue Post and mom to three daughters with autism.  She writes for Huffington Post and writes fiction and spends a lot of time cleaning up sticky messes.


anonymous A Dedicated Teacher

I am a special education teacher in d75, the NYC Dept. of Education. I am one of those dedicated teachers that Ms. Yellis is writing about. I have ABA classroom. I really enjoy working with children with Autism and have been doing so for a few years now. I have attended several workshops and seminars related to Autism. Recently, I decided to do Early Intervention, since I was formerly a preschool teacher and I wanted to have the opportunity to work in a 1:1 setting. I began working with a 4 year old; (5X60) Perfect! And close to home. I felt it was going very well. I had successfully "paired" with the child, and was working on assessment, using the ABLLS.
Mom and I were working closely on a behavior plan for dinnertime, as well as a "first/then" board, and a visual, picture schedule to assist this young child with transitions. I put a lot of time and effort into this, as I feel how important it is. Suddenly, I received a phone call from the agency I work through, telling me that the Great Neck school district no longer wants to work with my agency. I was heart-broken. Even though it had only been a few weeks, I was dedicated to this child and his family. Without speaking to me, Great Neck terminated my position; something to do with the Agency, I am not even sure. Surprisingly, I ran across your comments this weekend and wanted to share my unfortunate story with you. I spoke to Mom, and she said that services resumed today, but her son was asking for me.

Christine Heeren

I agree with Diana. I live on Long Island too and the school district puts a lot into my son.

I cannot wait until the first day of school. It IS hard to find things for him to do everyday. Kim, you have three and I have one- so one might think it's easier for you since your kids can play together. But, I know many times kids with autism have a hard time playing together- with typical or non-typical kids the same.

Summer is almost over!!!!! A few more days.

Diane Yellis

Here in Great Neck located on the north shore of Long Island (or Wrong Island as my husband calls it) our funding is good and we have an AMAZING assistant superintendent of schools responsible for special ed who meets regularly with parents of autistic kids. He's great and is truly trying to make things as best as they can be for our kids and their education. Our big problems lies in the home services, or "related services" as its called on my daughter's IEP. She's still a CPSE kid as she's only 4.5 so her home services are paid for by Nassau County. They pour the money on these kids,too, so that's not the problem. The problem is the agencies and the reliability of the therapists. The agencies collect fifty percent of the therapists' salaries (paid by the county). They send a therapist (thank you very much) and then never look back. They have no idea if the job is being done well or at all. They just take their 50% and walk away. The therapists who are committed are great, the others, well....let's just say we been disappointed a couple of times and don't know when that will happen again. I think, if you're asking for my thoughts here, that these agencies who are collecting A LOT of money on the hours they bill out, should be responsible for the quality of the home services and should be required to send a supervisor to the home on a regular basis to make sure things are being done appropriately.
In terms of school based program...also good as far as my daughter is concerned. She's intergrated with support and is thriving. Its what I want for her. Ok. There. I ended on a positive note.

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