What the Education System Would Look Like for My Autistic Son in My 'Perfect World'
If you’ve ever been to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, there’s a good chance you’ve seen how flawed our education system can be when it comes to our kids with autism. It could be a teacher who doesn’t want to accommodate your child’s extra needs. Or maybe your child doesn’t quite meet the criteria needed to get the extra help, even though they never quite hit the mark for their grade level.
My son will soon be 9, so we have had our fair share of IEP meetings over the years. We’ve had great teachers and we’ve had one who didn’t seem to want to put any extra effort into him. Unfortunately her lack of effort reflected greatly in his end of the year IEP; it was the first time he had ever failed all of his goals.
With the increasing number of children being diagnosed with autism, I feel like our education system needs to be reevaluated. In a perfect world, I believe all teachers would have experience with autistic kids. They would go out of their way to give a little extra time and help to those who needed it, whether they spend part of their time or all of their time in a general education classroom. For children like my own, there would be space available in the type of classroom that would fit his needs.
We are currently in the process of applying to get into an education resource center (ERC) classroom. Currently there are only about 15 spots available in the entire school district. If he doesn’t get accepted, he will continue to spend part of his time in learning resource center (LRC) and part time in a general education classroom, which is becoming harder and harder for him as he gets older. With such limited space, it could take years for him to be accepted. In the meantime, he may just fall farther and farther behind.
I know that none of these things can be changed overnight, but I feel as a community we desperately need to push for changes. We have to fight for our kids and make sure they are getting the best education they can. One they deserve. For the parent who doesn’t feel like their child is getting what they need, don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t ever stop fighting for what you know they need. Don’t let anyone make you think you don’t know what’s best for you child. We are their biggest advocates, and we must never forget that.
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