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High Functioning Autism and IEPs and Principals

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Hello!  I am the mom of three beautiful and brilliant children, one of which has High Functioning Autism.  His school has also labelled him as Gifted, and has stated on several occasions that they don't know what to do with him.

His IEP is a joke, and the meetings a farce.  Recently, my son (he is 11) was suspended for two days for an act that did not occur and the principal refuses to hear his side.  In addition to fighting that battle, we requested another IEP meeting (Our 4th in a year) because of his needs for social skill instructions.  

After visiting an advocate who went over the IEP in detail, page by page, we went to the IEP meeting and were told that what we wanted was unneccessary.  All we asked for were specific and measurable goals for the IEP, Functional Levels of Performance for his Autism, and assistance with his communication and social needs.

We were told by the district representative at the meeting that IEPs must be general, that having the term "Autism" on his IEP would tell educators what needed to be done, since the IEP was only for the student goals.  A Functional Behavior Plan would have to be implemented in order to address all communication, social, and in their terms, "behavioral" needs. As for Present Levels of Performance, we were told that was only for children who needed assistive technology.  Communication concerns were negligible since my son speaks eloquently.  The school psychologist dismissed nonverbal communication as relevant.

We were told that goals do not have to be measurable or specific, and those that were had not been written by educators who knew what they were doing.  Our advocate, they said, was not trained as well as the district and we were better off doing as they said.

I know what is supposed to be in an IEP. I have researched and talked to other parents, but the district will not budge.  It is like the term Autism is not an actual disability, but they are humoring me by putting it on his IEP.  We have filed complaints, but nothing is accomplished.  Our next step is mediation according to the State Board of Education we have been in contact with, yet I still feel that it is not enough.

The suspension devastated him because he did not understand it nor do what he was accused of, then he was moved away from his teacher that he loved into an Inclusion class.  When I asked why they didn't start him in an Inclusion class, it was becasue he was Gifted.  The school cannot seem to accommodate both of his "Disabilities." I can't seem to get through to them!

Any advice would be appreciated.  We are so frustrated! 

by on Feb. 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Replies (11-19):
by Gold Member on Feb. 14, 2013 at 1:53 PM
1 mom liked this

My husband suggests you contact your congressmen, governor, or ADA.

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM

I see our school staff severely lacking in uderstanding.  They think that autism only comes in one form.  :(  

Quoting Blondechic13:

On one hand, it's nice to not be alone in this, and on the other I hate that you are also going through something similar!  I know that is hard on you and your son and I admire how hard you are fighting for our kids!

We are filling out the Mediation paperwork today and I am going to start volunteering with our advocacy group that has been so supportive and helpful throughout this IEP mess, so I can also hopefully help other families. I am also meeting this weekend with friends who happen to be a 5th grade teacher, a sped teacher, and a school psychologist so that we rewrite the IEP as we need it. At least we would have something to show.  

I have often thought our principal and school psychologist evil as well, because I cannot imagine any reason to hurt a child over educating them.  Best of luck!  Your son is lucky to have you as his Mom!

Quoting Hottubgodess:

((HUGS)) I feel your pain.  I have a boy similar to yours who is not listed as AI but EI (Emotionally Impaired) which means "bad boy who needs to be trained".  It took me requiring an IEE (independent eval at school's expense) to get them to understand that yes he has a form of autism (they still "dont see it") and that yes he has sensory over load (they didnt see that either, but it was in all the emails I got from his teachers...duh).  

Two things to stress - yes by laws IEP's have to have MEASURABLE GOALS.  And the "I" stands for INDIVIDUALIZED - not a cookie cutter plan.  

Good luck.....I am currently working with other parents to stress to the superintendent we need better help for our kids.  Our SPED Director sucks....I honestly think she is evil and refuses to place kids as AI.  

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 2:52 PM

 There is good advice above.  I also think that you need to go over their heads to your local government and media.  It is ludicrous for any IEP not to have measurable goals and not to address all of the support needed by your child in school.  I mean, measurable goals are on the form!  Our IEP has also always addressed social/emotional issues and supports and had goals in these areas. 

My son is HFA and now a freshman in high school, and we have been lucky through most years to have very good and thoughtful people on our team. 

But we did for one year have an interim principal (when he was in sixth grade) who just decided DS was a "bad kid," and that was a year from hell.  

I would continue document, record, bring advocates.  Since they have done nothing and actually seem not to be complying with the law,  I would publicize the situation and bring as much outside pressure as possible to bear on them. 

You may be best off getting them to pay for your son's placement at a school better suited to his needs. 

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 7:37 PM
1 mom liked this

I keep hearing this ringing sound... OH LOOK it's the phone at a laywers office - one who specializes in special education law!  Seriously, they are expensive but MAN does the school district jump when they say GO!  Now if you think your child will only be in this school for a limited amount of time, it may not be worth it. 

by on Feb. 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM

I've seriously considerd the media, and we are looking for lawyers, but sped lawyers are scarce around here.  We've recently had a very positive article about Connor in our local paper, so I have "connections" for a story. I just have mixed feelings about going to the media over this. He will be in a new school next year, but it is the same district, and the district rep is now the one we are battling.  It has gotten to beyond ridiculous.  I've turned in the mediation paperwork as well.

You have all been so supportive and have great advice!  Thank you! I will keep you posted.

by on Feb. 22, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Hi my name is susan and Iam the mom of three children of which one of my beautiful sons is on the autism 

spectrum. and he had the same problem. He was expelled and his Iep were a farce because they did not 

have a clue I think that the professionals are the biggesr problem how can you get every one  to work

togeather if they don' understand > My budy is now 28 .

by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM

It's frustrating, because it's not like you have stress at home on top of everything else. I just found out, too, that a friend of ours has a son with an IEP that is measurable, but his is all for motor skills and physical therapy.  Another teacher friend's son at the same school has more severe autism and she has no problems with her IEP either.  This reeks more and more of discrimination since my son can function in a regular classroom until something sets him off.  I understand how it could appear to be a behavior problem, but we have a documented diagnosis, the school's own testing confirmed it, yet we seem to be getting a lot of excuses.  THe fact that they told me the IEP did not have to be measurable astounds me, especially when other students at the school have measurable and realistic IEP goals.

This is going to get uglier, but it has to be done.  This is not an isolated problem and it cannot be swept under the rug.

by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 9:40 PM
I didnt read all the responses, i have a bad headache but had to respond ,the point of the iep is to be specific! Otherwise it could just be said to the teachers he had autism and they would know what to do, every child with autism is different! Something that calms one will upset another! I would make sure every request you make for meetings or anything is done in writing get the school office to sign your copy so they cant say we never got that request! You are allowed to record any meetings BY LAW!!! all you have to do is tell everyone im recording this, when they tell you that you cant (bc they will) tell them you've researched the law and you know you're allowed to would they like to sign a paper stating they refused to let you record the meeting and then you can reschedule so you can get a lawyer involved ! I would contact a lawyer. That iep is supposed to be extremely detailed and tailored to your child! You know your child better than the school dont back down, schools think they know about autism they have no clue i havent met a teacher yet that treats kids with respect! My son is now homeschooled through a public cyber charter school bc its easier for me to teach him at home than deal with the way the school is here! I fought for a year unfortunately couldn't afford a lawyer and the school knew it! And i couldn't prove how his teacher was towards my son bc they refused to let the parapro come to the meetings even though she told me why my son came home crying everyday and didnt want to go to school!! I had the parapro tell me the teacher was emotionally abusing him and not doing what the doctor notes said she was supposed to and the school still sided with the teacher said i was lying but refused to bring the teachers parapro in to any meetings! Schools make me so mad! You know your child, dont back down! And that iep needs to be very very specific so the teacher cant say oh i didnt know to do that, or i didnt know that would upset him, or i didnt know you wanted me to call if that happened, bc when your iep is specific they KNOW what they are supposed to do and have no excuse when its not followed!!! Good luck dont back down!!!!!!!
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by on May. 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Just a comment not so much advice. I would like to see more OPTIONS (i.e. High Functioning Charter Schools). As parents, we have so much power. We know what works best. I am in the Orlando area (Hunters Creek). Just recently moved here. If anyone is interested in starting a networking/brainstorming group to discuss the idea of submitting a Charter Application in August 2013 for a high functioning charter school, please email. Let's put our strengths together. I have experience in Charter School start-ups. My son has made good progress. However, more than ever, I see the need of high performing specialty schools for Autistic children. Mainstreaming is good at the lower levels but as your child gets older, they need challenging work on their level with individual assistance. Best to you!

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