Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Voice Heard

I have been told things like "You need to fight for your child!", "You are his only voice!", "You are his best advocate!" I do believe that is true, especially when there are special circumstances surrounding your child. Kyle as you know has been diagnosed with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). He is high functioning, but then there are those things that we see that stick out like a sore thumb.

I homeschool two of my three children. I love all of my children equally and immensely. We pray about and for Kyle's schooling situation all the time. He went to a special Pre-K for kids with special needs. He really overcame so much in the two years he was with this teacher. Then two years ago he entered kindergarten. It was so adorable, Brendan was also in kindergarten and the cafeteria people would tell me that Brendan would cry a lot and Kyle always needed to give him a hug every time he saw his brother. It was special, seeing Kyle take care of Brendan. Then Kyle staying in Kindergarten another year, with the same teacher, by her request. We loved his kindergarten teacher. We felt like she really "got" Kyle, and the very fact that she wanted him another year, totally blessed my heart. She did care about him and he just loved her!! Kyle learned a lot in Kindergarten, however, he just missed the mark at the end of last year. He has been administratively assigned (a professional way of saying "pushed through") to first grade this year. We are excited, but nervous at the same time. As a side note, I am responsible for doing what is right by each of my children individually. I choose to keep Kyle where I know he is in a structured environment, which is what he thrives on right now in his development. (for any of you wanting to know why I don't homeschool him - also Kyle absolutely loves his school - the faculty and children seem to love him too!)

He still does not really read or write just yet, but he certainly has a lot more words and can express himself so much more confidently. Well, this summer Kyle was convinced he would have a certain teacher for 1st grade. He just assumed, because she was the only 1st grade teacher he knew, that in fact she would be his. Well, he absolutely loves this lady, let me tell you. She and her family are very dear to us, they are very special friends of our family, so Kyle knows this woman very well and she just makes him light up. Unfortunately, even though we (meaning the child study team, his Kindergarten teacher and we his parents) recommended her for his first grade experience, there was no guarantee she would be chosen by the powers that be.

We went to "meet the teacher" yesterday and Kyle found out that he did not have who he thought he would have in 1st grade. I was a nervous wreck. When I found out, I was mad, sad, scared, mad, oh I said that already didn't I?! I was more nervous for his reaction. Was he going to understand? Well, he didn't understand at the beginning. He told this nice new teacher, "It's nice to meet you, but I have "Mrs. SoandSo" for 1st grade". No Kyle, this is your teacher. This went on for hours. It was about 5:00pm that I was sitting at the table and mentioned that we are going to have to show this new teacher what a great student he is, he is going to have to do his homework. He looks at me and says, "after I am with this teacher, then I go to Mrs. SoandSo for 1st grade?" No honey, no, you do not have Mrs. SoandSo! Hours of this until finally the true test. Mrs. SoandSo called our home at about 5:30pm and I put her on the phone with Kyle to see if he really understood, and he did! Finally! He will be ok with this new teacher. He does surprise us all the time!

Then we found out that it is not listed in his new IEP that he gets a special bus. He has gotten a special bus every year since he was three. He does not know his address, or how to get home, if he is dropped off and for some reason I am late, he will be left alone on the street. (three streets away, I might add). This is not acceptable.

I was on the phone with the principal of the school, the head of the transportation department for our county and the school's transportation office, all afternoon! I will not put my child on a bus that is not picked up and dropped off in front of my home. The end! They tried to convince me to give this new bus a try, they spit my words back into my face "Well, you said yourself that Kyle is always surprising you", they explained how tedious it would be to change what needs to be changed in order for him to get a special bus. All I kept saying was "Ok, so what has to take place in order for us to reconvene and get this changed?" I must have said that 5 times to the same person yesterday because she was not wanting to hear what I was saying.

I have felt that way quite a bit! I am the only voice my child has, I have to fight for my child's education and services, I am his best advocate. I did not get angry, I was just firm. Often times, I feel like my voice gets lost in the wind. No one wants to hear it! I felt like no one listened to our recommendation (after a 2 hour meeting with the team that is supposed to be Kyle's supporters and his kindergarten teacher who was wanting the best for Kyle too). UGH! After a night to sleep on all of this and some information that made things more clear, I realize this: I give my child to the Lord every single day. He is a gift to me (as are all of my boys). I do have a voice and it may not be heard on his behalf here on this planted earth, but it is heard every single day, several times a day in Heaven. My Heavenly Father is his very best advocate! He is mine too! When I cry out for my son, my Jesus hears me every single time and meets me where I am, reminding me that Kyle is special to him too! He's got it covered. It is all part of His divine plan. He has Kyle placed in the palm of His hand (just like I pray for)! I do have a voice and it is heard! Thank you Lord for taking such great care of "our" boy! Thank you Mrs. SoandSo, you know who you are, for keeping a physical eye on "our" boy too! I feel confident that Kyle is in a good place and will be well taken care of. There will be no bus however until it shows up at my front door. That is for sure!

"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them."
Psalm 34:7


Barclay 5 said...

Fight the good fight Lisa - it will be rewarded. Kyle is blessed to have a mom who lifts his name to heaven and here on earth!

Love you!

Amanda said...

Yes, The Lord knows Ky better than we do and He has good plans for him. I love you and am so proud of the way you take such care with your boys!