Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fast Forward 2016

Wow! It has been a very long time since my last blogpost. Reading through some of these posts from the past reminds me of what we have done and where we have been. We are still on this journey and it just that: a journey. Life is a marathon not a spring.

I was reading the past posts that span from 2005 to 2010. I am amazed by what I read. This blog was meant to inspire others on their journey and an outlet for what I was dealing with as a parent of a child with autism.

Aidan is 13 years old. He is beautiful. He attends a non public school. He is very busy. Our family is very busy. And we are very active. We get out and walk daily. We have baseball and soccer and visits to amusement parks and times with cousins. We have a busy life.

We don't have in home ABA or out of home ABA for that matter anymore because we are too busy having fun!

Just wanted to do a short and quick update.

Vaxxed Interview about Aidan August 2016

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Our school district sued my son. He has autism.

Our school district sued my son. He has autism.

The Alta Loma School District is suing my six year old son who has autism and needs special education classes. They are also suing my husband and me.

I got the notice a few weeks ago. The school district wants a judge to declare that the district offered my son what federal law says it must provide him: a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

One of the difficulties you run into when writing about the education rights of disabled children is that the real importance of these issues can get lost in all the official language and alphabet soup.

So I’ll try to explain as simply as I can:

Federal law says a child in special education is to be provided a free and appropriate public education. This education should be in the least restrictive environment. There are a lot of rules that determine what’s free, appropriate and least restrictive. That last term generally means that a child in special education should have the chance to learn alongside his non disabled peers to the greatest extent possible.  

Next step: When a child is in special education they are supposed to get an Individualized Education Plan each year.

The plan is both a legal document as well as a blueprint for the services the special education child will receive, and where and with whom the child will go to school. The plan is supposed to be written with contributions from all the planning team members. That team is normally comprised of parents, a general and special education teacher, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a special education director, a psychologist and sometimes others.

But these plans become the subjects of disputes between school districts that want to minimize their spending, and parents, who want an appropriate educational opportunity for their children, without going broke providing it.

When my son’s plan was presented in April, the district’s special education director made an offer for a school placement which she considered to be both a free and appropriate placement in the least restrictive environment.  Rather than signing the plan at the meeting I always go home and after rest re read it.

All parents should as well. The parent has the ultimate power to sign the plan and with some options: The parent may agree wholly to the plan; agree somewhat to the plan, taking certain services and agreeing to them and not others (like an a la carte’ menu) or disagree with the plan.

My husband and I agreed somewhat to the plan agreeing to one service and not agreeing to the rest of the offer.  We agreed to a service of Applied Behavior Analysis. We did not agree to placing him at a county school because we do not feel it is appropriate for our son, nor do we feel he is likely to receive any meaningful educational benefit in that placement. 

We currently have our son in a non public school. Here he has daily interactions with children who do not have autism from local charter and home schools, he uses touch screen computers, assistive technology, and highly educated people work with him one-on-one, which is something he requires. We are not asking our son’s school district to pay for this school. We have written to the district letting them know that our son was at this school.

On May 19, 2010 we received legal papers in the mail. It was a due process filing from the school district’s attorney, evidently to obtain a judge’s declaration that the school district’s offer was sufficient – that is, that it was free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

Our reaction to this is frustration and anxiety.  If we want to attend the hearing with an attorney we must spend money to retain one and this is money that we obviously haven’t budgeted for. Life with a child with special needs is already filled with complications and adding harassment and retaliation from a school district would obviously increase stress for a family.

So the district is choosing to file against my family and spend money on attorneys to sue us rather than to wait up to two years to see if we will file due process against the district.

And here’s what hurts all of us whose children need special education: The money that is used on attorneys to sue a family comes out of special education funds. 

This means that in the district’s quest to make certain that they can cover themselves against a potential future due process filing by my family they are, in essence, taking away taxpayer dollars designed for special education programs and services and using these dollars instead on law firms and attorneys to sue a family such as mine.

What are your thoughts on this? If you are going through this, or have questions about this process, I’d be pleased to chat with you here on The Freeway.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Made it through the Holidays, just barely!

Well this year I asked my mom during her annual cookie day to see if she could look up a recipe that would work for Aidan and by golly she did! I am very proud of her and this first step she made. We will have to perfect the ingredients list a little better next year (coconut oil and no oatmeal) but overall it was lovely to have her step up and research a recipe and complete it just for Aidan.

The holidays were not so horrible. Thanksgiving we went away to Knotts. And Christmas we went to my parents Christmas Eve to have a feast I brought over from Trader Joe's, tamales and beans and chips and salsa. And Christmas day was the toughest at my aunts for a feast mostly none of which Aidan could have including tons of deserts all except his cookies he couldn't have. Keeping him away from the low table of these was hard. We had some external external family show up and something happened that was disturbing to me and reminiscent of my youth: every family but mine the kids were invited over for a sleep over. That was a bummer. This happened at my Christmas eve with my dad's side pretty much every Christmas where plans for a Big Bear trip not involving my family was discussed across the table in detail between the other brothers and sisters but not my dad. I am trying to decipher whether my son wasn't invited because well plainly he has autism and would be a handful and I would've said no anyhow etc etc or because simply they are just plain rude. Probably a mixture of both I suppose. What can you do. We didn't stay too long made it through food and opened presents outside with the kids and took some photos and that was our Christmas day there. Aidan did well overall.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Why I am a Progressive

I grew up very Conservative. Very very Conservative Christian family. I had an anti abortion binder that I carried around in junior high and high school that I was very proud of. It had pictures of babies on the front of it pasted on with information on abortion clinics. My uncle and aunt invited me to their weekly abortion clinic visits which they would attend and sit and protest women getting abortions. I didn't go to these I was too young but they would attend. Being gay or should I say practicing homosexuality was looked upon as truly a heinous behavior, a deprived behavior. I was very proud of myself when I would speak with others and very high high high on my high horse as the saying goes. I look back in shame on this. Shame that I was such a judging young person.

As far as politics go I can only remember my parents speaking negatively about Clinton briefly and his affair. I would say well if he can lie to the American people about his adultery imagine what else he is lying to us about.

It wasn't until this election, this Presidential election that things began to get heated. In the first election my husband and I voted for Clinton. In the next election or final election we voted for President Obama. My entire family voted instead for McCain.

Both my husband, my dad and my brother were laid off of work. My dad started watching more of Fox (Faux news) daily and reading Glen Beck books. Never before had he been interested in discussing politics or really bringing them into the realm of "christianity." All of the sudden his men's christian groups were focusing in on the political world namely our newly elected President. One church that our family is familiar with Calvary Chapel Chino Hills recently held a town hall meeting promoting that the health care for all bill is voted down. Something seemed incredibly wrong with this picture and still does to me.

Now I don't mind a debate. In fact I like to debate. I enjoy it. Where it gets trouble some for me is when it becomes personal. I have been told by family you cannot be a Christian if you support our President or are progressive. I am not affiliated with a political party but have said I am progressive so that's why they go that way. I have been told you grew up believing homosexual marriage is wrong and abortion is wrong how can you now be a progressive. I have been told I don't "serve my country" and wouldn't even if I had the chance. When I retorted I do serve my country I am a community server of sorts the response back was that's not serving your country.

But all this to say the point of my post the reason I am a Progressive. I am a Progressive thinker because of my son and the fact he has autism. Those that are Progressive their goal is to save programs that serve people with disabilities such as autism. The goal on the other side of the aisle has been to ward off tax hikes and cut programs. All of the programs that have helped people with autism have been spear headed by Progressives, from social security, medicare, Americans with Disabilities Act and more. One of my heroes and lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy made it his mission to assist those with disabilities. I believe at the root of Progressive is to put people before profit, a sense that we must look out for one another, love one another, care about one another. The other side speaks of letting the weak fail and that the strong shall survive and that you can get through things if you pull yourself up by your bootstraps. They speak lovingly of democracy and the country first motto but in reality what our country is is a capitalist me first society. When I think of what Jesus would look at in terms of how he was in the New Testament here on Earth I think of Progressive. And look I am not saying that this President is perfect or that I agree with every policy. I am purely speaking of the philosophy that goes alongside the party of Democrats that are Progressive and Republicans that are Conservative. I am a Christian and I am Progressive. And I believe that in my interpretation of the Bible and more specifically the new Testament Jesus would have called himself a Progressive rather than a Conservative anyday.

Parents Just Don't Understand

Something I have been thinking about writing about but haven't is the subject of extended family and their response to autism or a child who has autism. My family specifically likes to use food. Food represents love. So when my son who has autism can no longer eat the foods my extended family eats the choice has been to let him cheat, to force him to abstain, not to attend events etc. When I have had parties and have tried to make foods my son can eat for the entire family or order them special I have been criticized for doing so and told to make or buy the rest of the people there "real" food.

My son doesn't want to love on or hug just anyone. It seems the only way my parents especially can relate to my son is by disciplining him. Aidan get off that table! Aidan No, No! He looks at them and sometimes listens. That's the only time they get a look from him normally so that's all I find them doing with him, verbal discipline.

Then there are the other members of our family. Let's just say they don't all rush to volunteer to watch him while we are somewhere and I want to do something else like have a grown up discussion. Never mind the fact that my husband and I were the token watchers of all nieces and nephews for them. I have never ever been able to relax, take it easy and enjoy at a family gathering with someone in my family saying hey don't worry I will watch him for a bit.

Who I have become as a matter of becoming an autism parent is something my family and parents just don't understand. They have no idea what I do, what groups I belong too, why my ideology on so many things has changed. Some families especially grandparents when they hear a grandchild has autism it is as if some mechanism forces them into action and they become so interested and wanting to help their child who has a child with autism. I thought that would happen at least with my mom but it didn't. Oftentimes I feel like such an outsider with my extended family. Their reaction or lack of reaction has been so demoralizing. I think I just needed an outlet to express that.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Aaron and I are considering different directions for Aidan's schooling. We are considering charter schools as well as looking at non public schools. It is not as though there are terrible teachers in the county programs. There are some very good ones. There is though a lack of the the things I find incredibly important like a 1:1 aide for kids who need them, inclusion and mainstreaming in regular classrooms during parts of the day and definitely lunch, recess with the other children. These aren't happening and I see some of these classes failing because of that fact. I think there is a lot to consider as we move forward and nothing is set in stone.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

To every season....

First some positive things to report: Aidan has been making more of reciprocal connections with us. Smiling and dancing while we imitate him and smile and dance and keep the interaction going. He even laughs in delight at this back and forth. It is awesome!

We just had a very very collaborative IEP with the school and I look forward to working with them to discuss placement in the upcoming month. Aidan is going into kindergarten and I am looking around at placements that would accomodate his needs.

Will update after the next IEP in May.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Change in the economy change in treatment plan

Well the economy straight up sucks. Jobs are being lost. Wages are decreasing. Gas prices that had gone down are going back up. Times are tough all around. Nowhere I think is this more evident than in the world of autism or at least those who chose to do alternative treatment. We had been doing homeopathy or energetic homeopathy for a year or so but could simply no longer afford it. So we are now doing with our lil man something called homeotoxicology. We are in stage one which is stabilizing him. It's the first level and that name sounds so severe like trying to get a patient on the table stabelized and that's exactly what it is.

These are the stages and I am sure we have a road ahead of us. But that's okay. It's affordable and doable for us. I struggle with should I give straight up meds or no because that might be the easier road but for now we are sticking to this.

Phase I (Stabilize) with emotional support. Phase II is Vitalize where we build up the adrenals, neurotransmitter and gut support, Stage III is Neutralizing toxins from the outside-in, inside-out and Stage IV is Energize where the child is on a maintenance schedule customized for them.