Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm calmer now....

Well...add Advocate to my list of job titles. Today, we (Anthony and I) acted on behalf of our son to advocate for his Kindergarten educational placement. It's pretty amazing that being a parent isn't enough anymore. You have to be knowledgeable about your child's rights in special education, you have to be able to effectively (and non-aggressively) paint a picture of what your child can do, and you have to refute all these evaluations that paint your child as a helpless and hopeless case that will never achieve any sort of goals. It took a long time, and we met resistance, but with the backing of Ben's morning teacher, his SLP and me and Anthony, we did it! He's getting what we wanted....more on that specifically in a different post....let's just say, Ben's going to Kindergarten in style!
I was amazed that I was able to keep my composure.
Truly, I was apoplectic from the night before, when to my surprise, as I was going through Ben's backpack (as I do daily) I see a flyer indicating that there was a graduation ceremony for the program he's been attending in the afternoon since early February (part-time). He been attending this program for its full 2.5 hour duration since Mid-May. The first notification I receive for this graduation ceremony (scheduled for today @ 1:30pm) was yesterday.
Do you really want me to BELIEVE that you just thought about graduation the day before you've scheduled a ceremony? Do you see that cute boy's face up there? He's an afterthought?
Funny, Ben's morning program teacher has had their graduation scheduled for over a month now, giving us both the chance to take the day off so we could both be there for Ben.
The afternoon program teacher has just decided the day before that these children's graduation from pre-school should be formalized? Stressed out / angry / beyond reason isn't really an accurate picture of how I felt yesterday when I realized that there was a graduation ceremony going on that I had no idea about and couldn't possibly attend. I had to take time off this morning to attend his IEP meeting, and have to take tomorrow off to go to his graduation. Our time has to be scheduled so far in advance with both of us working. I had a mandatory meeting to attend this afternoon @ 1:30 that I could not cancel.
I carried this graduation notice to my IEP meeting, thinking that the afternoon program teacher would be there and I would ask her about it and why I was receiving it the night before. Of course, she wasn't there at Ben's meeting, just his morning program teacher, who has become a gem in our lives, was there.
She saw the angst in my face...and KNEW why I was carrying that flyer. She told me that she saw the flyer (the assistant from her class that goes with Ben to this class was so shocked that she brought it back to her to show her) and had raised the situation to the principal, KNOWING that I would be furious about being notified the night before. She also told me that she had words with the afternoon teacher, and informed her how wrong it was that she informed Ben's family the night before (all the other children's families had plenty of notice it turns's just that Ben is such an afterthought to this woman that she never thought to call me, e-mail me, drop me a note once Ben began attending her class in February). Yes, of course I sent her everything she needed to know about Ben back then, with no response. She never answered any of my notes. Shame on me for not complaining about her sooner. I did make up for lost time. Trust me. Everyone will know that my son was excluded from this.

Sooooo...tomorrow will be Ben's true and only graduation ceremony, with his very special teacher from his morning program and his friends he's been with since they all were 3. I will bring a box of tissues, it will be a tear jerker I am sure, to see a slide show of these boys who couldn't talk or climb the playground 2 years ago, to a chatty bunch of almost kindergartners. To see these boys sing and get diplomas is something that makes all the hard work and aggravation worth it.

Pictures to follow...anyone up for a glass of wine?
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