Today is National Autism Awareness Day. Autism impacts my family every day but today was our first IEP meeting at a new school district. A first time IEP with a new team is basically a review of all the ways that my son’s way of experiencing the world makes life in the box that is school a challenge. However, it is also my opportunity to advocate for my son. If I am an effective advocate, then I not only help my son but I bring further awareness of what really is Autism.
Specifically, I can help bring understanding that Asperger’s Syndrome is a unique way of experiencing the world. My son is not broken. He doesn’t not need to be fixed. He needs, like every child, to learn to express to those around him how he is experiencing the world and, in turn, to understand how they are experiencing the world.
Today, I think we did just that. The meeting went well. We have moved to a smaller school and it seems that being in a smaller school is solving a lot of the organizational struggles that plagued Daniel at his last school. It also appears that they will be able to handle all of the accommodations from his previous school. It remains to be seen what impact their approach to his dyslexia will have but they have most, if not all their books and texts as audio-books, which will help him immensely. I was also impressed to see that his Literature and Grammar teacher was able to effectively work with him to produce a well written Persuasive Essay and even before his accommodations was already working on scribe-ing for him. I am very encouraged.
Today also reminded me of all the families dealing with more intense experiences with their children. The parents of children who are non-verbal or self-injurious. As tired as I am today, they deal with a level of exhaustion that I can not imagine. My hope is that increased awareness of Autism will also increase the assistance available for those families.