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This is Help?
The Different Drummer
Last comment by DifrntDrmr 4 years, 5 months ago.

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When school districts are unable to provide students with the services that meet their educational needs, the law specifies that they must fund the child’s education at a Non-Public School (NPS). It is my understanding that for students on the autism spectrum, The Help Group is a preferred provider for these services. Given our dissatisfaction with our daughter’s progress in the public system, my wife and I attended the Sherman Oaks campus for a public orientation to see if this program would be a good fit for her.

Pulling into the driveway we found that the campus is nicely landscaped and feels very welcoming. However, the first people we encountered quickly dispelled that feeling. The first was apparently a parent who was rejected for the orientation session because she had brought along her stroller age child. She was expressing her frustration to the child, who was too young to understand, that she had no one to watch her and what else was she supposed to do. It seemed surprising to me that in school full of child care professionals nothing could have been done to accommodate this parent.

Next we encountered the receptionist who was overwhelmed by the number of people at her desk and severely lacking in people skills. Most of her attention was taken by an older lady who was dropping off a student. The lady apparently did not speak English and could not understand the questions that were being asked of her. The receptionist’s apparent strategy to deal with the situation was to use a louder voice and roll her eyes a lot. The nice appearance of the lobby was doing little to convince me that this would be a nurturing environment for my child.

The tour of the facility did not do much to change my opinion. Every door and gate was locked from both sides. With his giant key ring, the administrator could have easily been mistaken for a warden. Without prompting he explained that the placement of the Sunrise School, their facility for students needing “intensive behavior intervention,” at the back of the facility had nothing to do with a judgment of the students. The thought had not even crossed my mind until he suggested it.

Despite the fact that this was an organized tour that had been planned in advance, arrangements had not been made for all parents to visit age appropriate classrooms or interact with the teachers. Instead, parents of elementary age students were allowed to look through the window in the door. Since my child is older, I did not pay attention at first. However, when the door was opened for someone to take a child out of the room I could hear an adult yelling at one of the children to “stop crying.” My interest was peaked.

Through the window I could see an adult and two children at the front of the class. The two children were standing across from each other and I am guessing that the attempted lesson had to do with social interactions. One of the children was visibly distressed and appeared to not want to be in the position that he was being placed in. In the short time that I watched the scene the teacher physically moved the student’s hands away from his face and moved his head to face the other student, but he still resisted. The adult then slapped the student on the cheek.

I immediately announced what had happened and my wife repeated my observation to the administrator, who did not react in any way. A second, subordinate administrator did come over to tell us that they would look into the situation. The tour continued.

Both my wife and I did receive phone calls later in the day from the facility asking us for details about what we had witnessed. In my opinion, this was a poor substitution for dealing with the situation immediately. I also found it was interesting that even though the representative of the school knew that we had been on an orientation for a potential student, she made no attempt to tell me that this was not the kind of teaching method that the school endorses. It would not have changed my mind that there is no way that I would send my child to this facility, but it would have made me feel better about the children currently in the program.

Latest Activity: Sep 13, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Blog has been viewed (1134) times.

CS commented on Thursday, Sep 05, 2013 at 14:48 PM

While I feel bad about your situation for your "special child," the local schools just cannot afford to accommodate the educating of so many "special" children. The taxes you pay as a family does not cover the HUGH expense just to educate one of these "special" children. When I have spoken to school counselors, they are overwhelmed with other kids who have severe psych issues...some of them scary where they fear for their lives. Maybe your wife can stay home and homeschool your child in order to get a better education for your child. I am afraid your child's education will never be good enough. Best wishes to you.

bill4dme commented on Thursday, Sep 05, 2013 at 15:22 PM

The purpose of my husband's blog was not for sympathy it was to educate the community about the NPS that the districts are contracting with. We understand that the school districts are overwhelmed and as parents we have to be proactive and informed. We were trying to inform other parents about our observation. Our daughter (which is 1 of our 2 autistic triplets) is almost 13 so we have been in this for a while and maybe we could save some other parents some heartache. Unless you have training as a special education teacher or a behaviorist, homeschooling is not the best idea for either the child or the parent in these situations. Keeping autism out of schools is not going to solve the problem and in fact it will make it worse.

DifrntDrmr commented on Friday, Sep 06, 2013 at 07:49 AM

CS: First of all, your position is not supported by Federal law. "Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including federal funds. Section 504 provides that: 'No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . .'" (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list...)

At their current level of progress, my daughters are going to need government services for the rest of their lives. Any chance for improving their future depends on intervening now during their years of education. You may think that schools cannot afford to educate them now, but this money is an investment in the future - both for them and society.

Finally, regardless of your lack of empathy for the less fortunate, I wonder how you think that it is all right for a child to be physically struck by an adult in a classroom.

CS commented on Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 17:53 PM

Sorry I have not been able to respond sooner but I just saw your responses and have eight minutes to respond so please forgive me going direct to the point.
Two out of three triplets are autistic: that tells me that you probably used in-vetro fertilization. If indeed that is the case which I highly suspect, why did you personally CHOOSE to transfer so many embryos knowing that the larger the number of potential children, the higher the percentage of problems? Secondly, why would you want the local school districts (and thus, the kids attending the local schools)to pay more to educate your two beautiful autistic children because of your PERSONAL choices? I read today about a school district in Yuba City attempting to pay off a complaining mother in the $80,000.00 range to remove her one older autistic child out of the school/district and he only as another year of school to go? $80K-one year???? Unfortunately, that is why the school districts are broke...just cannot afford it. Thus, all the other kids in the school district have to sacrifice or go to a private school to get a decent education. Darn, I could go on and on but must go.

DifrntDrmr commented on Monday, Sep 09, 2013 at 23:06 PM

Your response shows that you know nothing about my pathway to parenthood. Regardless, the law referenced above does not make any exceptions based on how a child was conceived.

I still wonder how you think that it is all right for a child to be physically struck by an adult in a classroom.

CS commented on Thursday, Sep 12, 2013 at 14:08 PM

It is not okay to slap a child in the face. The person just lost it and was exhausted. No excuses though. When tired, get someone else in there to help, but wait, there is no assistance/help due to lack of funding.
I worked with a severely austic 8 yr. old girl (two days ago for two hours) along with her parents; has taken me two days to physically recover since I am not 20 or 30 or 40 anymore. The mother gave me a book entitled "Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism," and begged me to continue working with autistic children...should have her speak to you for a reference about me!
Something is terribly wrong that so many children now are autistic...and I want to understand why. Years ago, when kids had issues, they would stay home with their mom thus, the schools were not financially impacted. Now, because of the Federal laws, our schools have become "free" childcare centers...let someone else deal with them temporarily as I need a break....and as a mom, I understand that since I get exhausted, however, here lies just one of the many problems that go along with that thinking.. China and India have far surpassed us in Math and the Sciences. Why? We don't have the $$$ in schools to properly educate our kids anymore. Where is the money going? Special Education. I don't know the answers but we all have a hugh problem now and folks need to start talking real (and not politically correct)about how all this started and fix it.

DifrntDrmr commented on Friday, Sep 13, 2013 at 09:20 AM

if this adult was exhausted at 11:00 in the morning, then he needs a new profession. It was not a lack of assistance that contributed to this abuse (as I said in the article, there was another adult assigned to the classroom), it was a lack of judgment. This child was not acting up for no apparent reason. He was visibly upset by the lesson and needed to be left alone.

You do not say what work you do with autistic children, but I am begging you to stop. These children do not have "issues," they have a medical condition that needs intense, professional intervention to give them a step up in life. A person who excuses abuse, thinks that they should be hidden away, sees them as nothing more than a financial drain and promotes quackery is not up to the challenge.

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