Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Where's the Rest of the Story..My Response to 2/19/06 SF Chronicle Article on Special Education

Blogsphere is ablaze with comments on the San Francisco Chronicle’s February 19th article on Special Education . See the follow up post by Charlie Fox on Special Ed Law Blog and his initial post, Progranda War Carried Out in the Press .

My first reaction to the SF Chronicle article was that the war has a new battlefield. In the preface to Parenting Your Complex Child I described parenting a complex child as a war with many battlefields: home, dealing with school and other agencies and going out in public. The media has been covering mostly high functioning children but I have never read a piece that attacked parents until this piece. Will the media now be a new battlefield for parents to deal with?

My second reaction to the article is that it was very one-sided. Very little was included from the parents’ prospective. I found myself wishing for Paul Harvey’s “rest of the story”. Here’s the response I sent to the San Francisco Chronicle this morning:

“Reading your 2/19/06 Special Education piece I wondered where’s “the rest of the story”. As mom of a special needs adult, I know the other side of the story. Lawmakers tried to provide for disabled children. Unfortunately, red tape and combat zones came with their good intentions.

Explaining your child’s needs to “the team” and being treated as “only the dumb parent” makes it difficult to create an appropriate plan that is also cost effective for the district. I agree that parents need to get real in their expectations of what a district can and cannot do but a possible compromise can only be reached if both sides are listened to and respected.

All special needs children are unique. Many cannot be pushed into existing systems. They need individualized systems created for them. Much of that can be created at much less cost if the district is willing to look at doing things the way the child needs rather than the way it has always been done before. To accomplish this requires team building advocacy on both sides.

My book Parenting Your Complex Child (AMACOM Books April 2006) came out of our struggle with these very issues.”

The rest of the story is long and most of us have experienced chapter and verse. We can experience “the dumb parent treatment” whether communicated in words or attitude says to us “what do you know, you’re only the dumb parent.” We may be accused of not seeing our child objectively. It is unquestionably a battlefield.

The problem is when the war is going on the casualty is our children. Until we can start negotiating a peace plan nothing changes for our children. Programs don’t get started, IEP goals aren’t ever agreed on and things do not get better for the child.

It was impossible to tell the rest of the story in 200 word response but it was surely missing for the article.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group

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