Have you been told your child can’t do something that you think they should be allowed to do? Or won’t ever do something you know they can do? I get so frustrated when I am told no to something I know is right for my child. And I tend to fight much harder for him than I would for myself.
But I have learned that sometimes there are ways around “no.”
I visited the high school my son was to attend about a year before it was time for him to go there. They told me their plan was to put him in a self-contained class for kids with emotional disturbance. And send him out to a farm to work with plants. I argued that he had been in regular classes his whole time in school. And he hated playing in the dirt! But it didn’t matter to them. They said that’s what they would do with him to “keep him safe.” I cried, and I left.
Then I went to a friend with knowledge of all the schools in the district and we looked for the right one for my son. My son has mild cerebral palsy so going up and down crowded stairs was a safety issue. We visited the only one-story high school in the district. It also had a good reputation for inclusion. We talked with the Special Education Director.
They told us that as long as he could go to classes without an aide, he could attend regular classes. We had to meet with the principal, who had the final word on transfers.
Everything went well at the meeting until the principal asked to talk with Jason alone. Thoughts of what Jason might say terrified me. But, he was accepted into the high school! And it was the best 4 years of his school career.
He was drafted into the orchestra because of his knowledge of composers. He learned to play the stand-up bass. He had friends and a place to belong.
Then came the disagreement over his ability to do math. Jason struggles with basic math. But he can do advanced math with the help of a calculator. He passed Algebra I in middle school and it was time for high school Geometry. The Admission, Review, Dismissal (ARD) committee said no.
I had started taking Jason to the ARDs with me. After all, it was a time to plan his school experience–why wouldn’t he be there?
I asked Jason what he thought. He responded, “Well, I’d like to try.” That was the end of the discussion. He took Geometry and Algebra II. We got him a tutor and though it took a lot of work, he passed both.
My son wanted to try it and he succeeded! And he spoke up for himself even though all the adults in the room (except me) were against it. That’s success.
So, yes! No doesn’t always mean no!
You can learn about advocating for your child when you don’t think you’re getting the right services for your child on this website.