The problem? There were several parents in attendance.
Yes, I think it is a good idea that parents are informed and aware as well as the kids, however, parent attendance was never discussed with me. If I had known parents were going to be there, I would have been there to answer any questions from a parent-to-parent perspective. It was my impression that this was going to be a "safe" place to talk about what it means to be Autistic, where the kids would be able to ask questions and receive clarifications regarding their concerns. I was furious.
Here was my e-mail to the principal and the director of special education upon finding out:
I am aware that the Autism awareness discussion with Jaysen's class was held yesterday, I would love to know how it went. At our meeting, we discussed the purpose of this presentation was to provide Jaysen's classmates with sensitivity training and education about how Autism affects Jaysen, to foster more positive social relationships, and to reassure them that things are under control.The principal responded that I was correct, several parents did attend the discussion, although she didn't know they were going to be there. She said they were neither notified nor invited, and she didn't know how they knew there was going to be a conversation at all. She apologized, and said they should have asked the parents to leave the room while the discussion took place. She assured me this type of situation will not happen again.
It has come to my attention that parents were also in attendance. I do not know who authorized this decision, who invited the parents, how they were notified, or why I was not invited as well. If the intent was to have parents present, it should have been discussed, and I should have been notified. Had I been notified, I would have been there to represent Jaysen, and answer any questions parent to parent.
I want you to be aware that this is a breach of Jaysen's confidentiality under FERPA law. I gave permission to discuss Jaysen's Autism with his classmates and teachers. I did not give permission to hold an open forum about my son. I expect this issue to be dealt with accordingly.
Is it just me, or is this not enough? Are you planning on finding out how the parents were "invited"? Isn't it obvious to you that his ignorant teacher was the one who tipped the parents off to the freakshow as they dropped their kids off that morning? If you weren't expecting the parents, why didn't you clear the room? This is absolute bullshit. I am so glad he wasn't in school.
My advocate says not to get my panties in a bunch. I should look at it for what it is. Parents are now informed too, and now...the district "owes me one". She suggested not to file a formal complaint, and now is the time to ask for the big stuff. I took her advice and wrote a letter to the director of special ed, and asked for his teacher to receive immediate training, and a Functional Behavior Assessment (that they still haven't completed) with the assistance of ISD. ISD is the Intermediary School District, and they are supposed to know their shit. They're who you call when your district isn't cutting it. It's also difficult to get their involvement because honestly, they have more important things to do than other people's jobs. On Monday, I am going to write a letter requesting Extended School Year (ESY) services, and an IEE at their expense.
Still, that only makes me feel a tiny bit better. This is so wrong. The advocate is right, that I have to play nice because Jaysen's only in 1st grade, and has a lot of years left at this school. I'm just sick of all of this. At what point does it become discrimination? At what point does it become too much? At what point do people consider that there is a real child with feelings here? My friend suggested I confront the teacher about it, but I'm too afraid they'll end up calling the police because they found out just what a combative mom really is.
In a bit of humor, the other autism-mom at Jaysen's school, left something for me in Jaysen's backpack. It's a note on a heart-shaped piece of paper that says "I've been thinking about you, I hope you're doing okay. I remember mentioning this book to you. I think you will enjoy it. I couldn't put it down. I'm here for you."
And it was stuck inside...a copy of Jenny McCarthy's book.
She apparently doesn't read my blog.