Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Let it go or let it rise?

I tried to make my peace with why the Kiddo wasn't included on the general education trip. I rationalized in my head that this wasn't the hill I needed to die upon. I said to myself "Self, just blog it up. Get it out and then you can move on."  I did and many of you shared very similar stories of the same thing happening you and your child. While it felt good to know I wasn't alone, it was still eating away at me.  

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? ;-) 


  1. Mama, this is one I would not let go. It is not fair to your son or any other child out there to not be able to go on an outing like this. There are plenty of ways to make it happen and I really can't (or don't) want to believe that the school let the ball drop on this one. Keep at it until they see their mistake and I know nothing they do now will fix it but next time they will know better. Hugs momma fry.

  2. Federal law protects that rights of special needs children and states that they are to be included and they are entitled to their behavior supports. Your district was wrong to exclude and has violated federal law. Our son was excluded in 3rd grade 20 minutes before they were leaving for the trip. He had to sit and watch the others board the bus. Never again!

  3. No, they do not seem to be getting what you are saying at all.

  4. The response, as you put it, of "you do the work and we'll see" is infuriating. They aren't even bothering to defend their poor decision, and blatantly leaving the door open in future for more exclusion. Take 'em to the mattresses, for your Kiddo's sake and for the sake of all of us who will be where you are soon. Thank you, Mama Fry.

  5. Mama Fry, as we would say in Blighty "time to pull your kicking boots on!" Do not on any account let this one go. Time to educate these alleged educators, methinks.

  6. :( Sorry this happened. Great letter though!!!

  7. This is just crap. I totally agree with you and believe they are trying to brush it aside - do not let them. The fact that they had this planned and on a general calendar is just unbelievable and completely inexcusable. I am so saddened to hear that this happens to so many kids. Middle school is the worst - even und the best of circumstances - and this just goes to reinforce that notion.

  8. My son did go to all his MS field trips with his me as his chaperone. He was never excluded from field trips when he was in general ed school. The school also knew that I would be a chaperone in each of those trips so they couldn't count me out either. Got some rude comments from other moms of why I always got to go and they couldn't but the school always had a space for us. We did the Medieval Times and he had a great time.

  9. I say you bring up the fact that what they did was illegal, based on Melissa Price's above posted info. I bet that will get their attention a lot more. I'm not a fan of going straight for threatening and such but clearly there's no other way to deal with these a**holes.

  10. This is bullshirt. Get on top of it, under it, behind it, and turn it upside down until these "professionals" realize they made a colossal mistake and learn from it. <3

  11. I must have missed something in the first blog post, because I assumed it was something more complicated than a trip to a themed restaurant! Maybe I assumed that becaus I couldn't even imagine how this could be a problem.
    Wow, I feel your rage fully now. I'll be sharing this post so others might be able to use your letter if they should end up in such a predicament.
    Keep fighting for inclusion. We have benefitted somewhat from the previous generations of autism families fighting for inclusion, but we ain't there yet. Hopefully with our efforts, the next generation won't need to write such letters.

  12. Can I please steal your last 3 sentences as my mantra?! "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? ;-)"

  13. I'm not as polite as you were here. I blast them with statutes and then the multiple pictures of my son at our small statehouse in Montpelier, shaking hands with the governor(s), copies of the laws he helped create with his "testimony"... I take them to the matt if they disinclude my son. Even if its an event he may prefer to skip, he should be allowed to chose. In school, I'm courteous, but direct and won't back off until I get what I want in writing. No lectures, just "...we are all clear on this now. Great." All this said, know your child's rights, lead the conversation regarding accommodations, encourage a brainstorm for the solution. But do not settle for crumbs off the table. Remember: Presume Competence, Nothing for Them Without Them, allow for the Dignity of Risk (let them try, even an unexpected outcome is a learning point)

  14. I loved that last sentence! You go Mama Fry!