My breaking point was receiving an email from one of the Kiddo's classmate's mom. Her son and mine have been together since they were three, so we go way back. She's also one of those rare breeds that isn't on social media, so she probably hasn't read my blog or in fact know I even have one. She's a cool, calm, and collected kind of gal. This email from her though was the 180 of her. She was PISSED about the fact our kids were left out.
The line that broke me was "Why am I selling all this fundraising stuff to pay for trips if he can't go on them?" Exactly. Why are we asked to do some things but not all things. Our money is good but my Kiddo's company is not?
Oh and a lot of you have been asking me what was the trip. Medieval Times restaurant. Yes, there's a show that goes on in front of it of knights on horses and all that jazz, but at the end of the day it's a essentially a restaurant. The 6th graders went to this as part of the social studies component because that's what the general education is currently studying. Great! I am sure that's a fun way to explore a topic but you think my Kiddo couldn't do that? Especially since most of his class trips or "Community Based Instructions" as they like to call them are in fact to restaurants.
While I'm sure his OT wouldn't be thrilled with the lack of utensils, I think even she would get on board with the theme. I mean, you do get a crown.
So no, I couldn't stay silent anymore and I sent an email. In fact, I sent a lot of emails. To all the players. From teacher to principal. Directors and supervisors and yeah, the Superintendent of our school district because this needed to be discussed. I've included it here for you to see and also for you to use. I heard from way too many of you how this has happen to your child too. It needs to stop. Feel free to copy, paste, and adapt it as you see fit. (Please note, I have removed my son's name and name of his school for his safety and privacy.)
To whom it may concern,
My name is "E" and I am the mother of "Kiddo". He is a 6th grader at "I". He is also autistic and in the self contained classroom. The transition from "A" school to "I" school has not been easy due to the nature of his disability. The "I" team has been working with us to formulate a plan to help him succeed in this new placement.
While I am glad to see several CBI (Community Based Instruction) outings scheduled for the class, I have some concerns regarding the areas of inclusion with my son and that of his classmates.
I received a general email info "blast" from "I" school. regarding a class trip for 6th graders on Oct. 21. I waited to hear more information and receive a permission slip. Or even to hear from the team at "I" how they wanted to handle a class trip with "Kiddo". (Would an aide from the class attend with him and his peers? Behavior strategies? etc.) "Kiddo" also saw it on the calendar as he can go on the school site and does to look up days off, school events and the lunch menu. He too, knew it was coming.
I was very disappointed that we heard nothing about it and that our kids were excluded from attending. Past practice had "Kiddo" and his special needs classmates attend every class trip that their typical aged peers went on as exposure to the curriculum. (For example, plant science was a trip to "B's" nursery.)
I worry what kind of message it sends out to the neurotypical students when things like this happen. While I am happy to hear that "I" school does an event like "Volleyball for Autism" and the "buddy" program, the simple act of inclusion can teach about autism awareness and acceptance so much more. Several students and their parents that know us even questioned why "Kiddo" and his classmates weren't allowed to go. That is a testament to how well the inclusion program was done at "A" school.
As this trip was to Medieval Times, which is essentially a restaurant with a show, how is it possible these students could not attend? As several of their CBI trips have been to restaurants! It would have been a wonderful opportunity for the typical peers to model for these special needs students. Not to mention a way for our kids to carry over previous lessons they have learned on their own CBI trips.
If this could be done at the elementary grade level every single year, there is no reason it couldn't happen at the middle school level.
In the future, I will be happy to act as a chaperone on school trips if they need parent volunteers.
And I sent it. A couple of emails and phone calls later, I'm still not sure if they get it.
I was told there would be a trip in the spring where both his class and the "buddy program" would be going to together. Okay, that's cool. I'm glad that's coming in the future.
I was encouraged to look over the calendar and basically let them know what I want the Kiddo to go on and discuss it with them. I'm kind of put off by that. This is where I'm thinking "They don't get why I am upset." It's all "let's move forward" and not a real acknowledging of the problem. Not a lot of "Yes, let's fix this." More like "Oh ok. You go do the work and let us know and then maybe, we'll see. Yadda, yadda, yadda."
So,you want me to be the one on top of this? You're going to see me be ON TOP OF THIS. You think my Kiddo can fixate on a subject? Where do you think he learned it from? ;-)