DENIED …

Today I sat through yet another IEP meeting for yet another one of my kids. We did the full out thing, they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already expect walking into the meeting. 

They indicated that Lil Girl has a significant difference between her scores in the area of attention and memory from those in logic and reasoning. Reasoning and logic are her strengths. Due to her strengths in this area she scored high in cognitive, which denied her services in this area. 

Then they told me all about her personal – social behaviors. Here they spoke of how she is affectionate with family members and other adults. They did not show that it took her about 10 – 15 minutes to warm up to the evaluator that was playing with her. They talked about how she will sometimes allow adults to join her activities. They acknowledge that she does not like to help adults in the house, and that she is aware of other children, but does not interact directly with them. They say she can say her first and last name, but that she not respond correctly called by her name. Now here is the fun part because up until now it’s all clinical data … Lil girl LOVES playing in the kitchen.  She will give bowls of food and feed her babies. But the data is a little well … incorrect. They say she will initiate socialization with her peers. THAT IS BULLSHIT! She does not care about the kids in her class. She is happier playing by herself and gets very irritable when other children mess up her play. I CALL BULLSHIT! Oh and she is aware of gender differences, because you know boys have a penis. Yup she went there. God do I love the things that come out of my kiddo’s mouths. Again they state that there is a significant difference between her score of self-concept and that of peer social skill development. 

 

Her adaptive skills scored low as she still needs assistance with many tasks a 3 year old should be able to do, like undress themselves and always use utensils when eating, petting animals gently and not eloping. 

Her communication scored high because she uses gestures to get her point across and understand a lot of what is being said to her.  In other words, she makes herself and her needs known one way or the other. Her speech however is completely unintelligible. 

So what does all of this mean? Simply stated … her attention and memory issues are not a problem because her logic and reasoning skills are so high. However there has been a large decline in those since her Early Steps screening (about 15-20 points). Her adaptive skills are 5 points too high and her social skills are 2 points to high. These two areas being too high by a few points have denied her services for developmental delay. They have indicated that she has a severe phonological impairment that impacts her ability to make her needs and wants known. So for now she is being placed in a 2 1/2 a day program that will be language and speech intensive. 

While I am happy that she is getting intensive speech from the district, I feel lost because she had a really good testing day. It was one great day out of so many bad days that we go through. Now it is time to start working her therapy myself, like I had to do for me and for my son. While she scored anywhere form 2-5 points too high for the additional services, I will not let my child fall victim to a system that is too overworked and too finically stressed. My daughter will not fall through the cracks. She will succeed in her own way at her own pace. 

“Autism on the Rise”

Yesterday Autism was a buzz word again with news reports following the release of new statistics regarding the prevalence of autism in our society. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) released the statistic that autism now affects 1:68 children. Previous statistics indicate that the numbers were 1:88. This release, these numbers, caused autism to be a buzz word yet again. Not only for the NT community but also in our own autism community. But why? Here is a statement from the CDC’s website:

Prevalence

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. [Read article]
ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [Read summary] [Read article]
ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). [Read article]
Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table] [Read article]
About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. [Read summary]  http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

This blurp does not include the facts from the rest of the release. These numbers came from 2010 and include only 11 states. So why is this important you ask? Easy! The data is two years old. The states that the population was pooled from are limited. Seriously 11 states out of 50 in the US. This limited selection of individuals, mind you is counting only children above the age of 8, showed an increase of 29% in two years. The media is picking this up as autism being an epidemic. IT IS NOT AN EPIDEMIC! Autism is still widely misunderstood. The news stations picking this up are fueling a rise to find out why, a race to find a cause and cure. Let me tell you, we are not broken. We do not need to be fixed. 

I made a comment about the news report on ABC World news yesterday regarding a “Race to find out why autism is on the rise” and it lead to a friend asking “did they say why?” You see I don’t care why. Our house has rates of 3:5 with autism. My house is full of autistic people. I don’t care why it happened or what caused us to be autistic. I actually love our autistic life, even the struggles we have to go through to get to the great stuff. Instead of telling her that. I responded with:

there is no known cause at this point. Many believe there is a strong genetic component. The bigger concern is that there are very little services currently provided to our autistic children and adults. As parents we have to fight for every single thing in the school systems, more and more autistic kids are being placed in the general education (regular) classrooms with teachers who have NO knowledge on how to teach them. Media reports like this one and associations like Autism Speaks place more emphasis on finding the cause and/or cure and no focus or very little focus on helping families obtain services needed. The rates (which only included 8 yr olds from 11 select states in the US) indicate that we are going to have a generation of individuals entering the adult world and there are NO supports for them. The magical cut off for services seems to be 18 years old. I have two children who may never live outside of my home and may need my support all their life, who will take care of them when i no longer can? I’m not the only one in this boat. What will happen when those 1 in 68 children enter adulthood and their parents can no longer take care of them. This is why I was so outraged at focusing on finding a cause. We need to focus our efforts else where.

These new numbers will focus energy elsewhere. What we need to focus on is not the why’s or how’s, we need to focus on the services we are given. We need to focus on teachers knowing and being educated about the truths of autism. We need to understand that in a few short years we will have a group of people “age out” of the system and then what? Where are the supports for adults on the spectrum? We know what will happen after our children “age out” As parents and care givers we will be left high and dry with limited support. Should this be our reality? Shouldn’t we have a better chance at life? Autism is not something to be cured, rather the individual should be supported so that they can live the best life they can. 

The change we need

So I just got home from a very long day. Lil girl had her eval, posted about all of that earlier, then had school. So here is the thing I am extremely happy to find that lil girl’s intelligence is through the roof. Here is my struggle, she is one to two points too high for other services. They recommended that I go back to my pediatrician and request referrals for private evaluations for speech and OT. She attempted to line up every toy they gave her, but the examiner stopped her. When this was pointed out I was told that it’s okay because she was lining up colors.
When I pointed out that she imitated everything the evaluated did including the words that went with drawing a circle (examiner said “circle, circle, circle” while drawing a circle … lil girl with a crayon in her right hand still coloring took the lady’s crayon and drew her circle over the lady’s saying “circle circle circle”) I was told that is what they wanted her to do.

I was told that her intelligibility is not a concern at 34 months old, because she gets her point across with her limited vocab and through hit or miss pointing. She is understood enough for them to consider it “acceptable”

I was told that i need to work harder at getting her to use a fork and spoon when eating because she has a great grasp for coloring. I try with the fork and spoon but I am sick and tired of being hit by the fork thrown at my head. That is what happens if I have her use a fork. But if I don’t give her one on her plate I have her food thrown at me in frustration.

She is potty trained to an extent. She will not go to the bathroom on her own. She would rather wet herself before going alone. Other times she will simply pee where she is sitting/or standing without regard to the need to go.

She socializes with adults, but not peers. Her socialization was scored low because of this. They don’t know what to recommend because I already have her in preschool part time, and take her to the park and other venues where she can interact with children her age. She just wont.

The evaluated told me “She has no regard for danger.” This was not a question, this was a statement from watching her stand on the chair and not care that she was falling off of it. This was watching her do it again and again with the same results. This was her sticking her hand in my hot coffee without regard to it being hot.

She can not show the difference between a boy and the boys when shown a picture.

Yet I am left with the statement “We are sorry she does not qualify for services, you must go back to you doctor and request private evaluations. Or you can wait until she is three and go through Child Find”

You see here is a child who has dx of developmental delay. She is high functioning, yet too high functioning to actually receive help. This is where the divide in our community comes in. High Functioning vs Low Functioning … we each battle our own demons. We fight the same fight. If we were to band together and raise our voice as a unified community how different would our world be? How much could we change if we looked at it from all sides of the table?

Having a high functioning child is kind of a double edged sword. You know your loved one struggles yet you are not eligible for services. Having a low functioning child is not any better. Your loved one requires more help for their struggles than our system provides.

When will we demand a change for our loved ones? when will we be given the chance to give them the best life regardless of their functioning level? When will we see, within our own community, that our end goal is the same? That all we want is what is best for our loved one?