Fighting the dragon: Autism & the school system


As we are coming closer and closer to the school year, I am starting the cringe with the notion that here begins the fight with the Toronto District School Board to get the much-needed support for our son and others like him at our school. As we left the school in June, we were informed that while our school is considered a “hotspot” for Special Needs and recognized that there is a significant number of kids who require help to support them in school, we have thus far been allocated .5 of a position (for reference that is a 1 part-time position)..we apparently need at least 2.5 positions to cover the needs of the children.

We promptly did what many suggested and started writing letter (s) in Late June (combined with the parents of the other little guy that shared the SNA (Special Needs Assistant) with us last year). We sent it to the school trustee, superintendent, supervising principal and our MPP. We received 1 response (which we appreciated) from the superintendent, indicating that everyone was on holidays until the 20th of August and we would potentially meet then to discuss.

We have followed up but without any response to date.

I know, everyone in Toronto seems to be in a tizzy about the teacher contract agreement and what is about to happen with them. Ask any special needs parent what they think of hearing the trials and tribulations of teachers who live in such an unrealistic world of expectations on job security, pensions, and time off when it comes to hearing that your child won’t have any help this year and it’s sometimes hard to be sympathetic. I’m not saying that it’s the teachers who are responsible for the lack of resources available but I do feel that the Behemoth that is the TDSB and the way they have negotiated some terms in regards to union agreements have made it near to impossible to address the resources required in supporting the growing epidemic of Autism and children’s needs in the school system. 1 in 88 children or 1 in 54 boys now has autism. Can you truly say that your school system has changed their budgets in any way to assist that number?

Original source: http://www.churchstoke.powys.sch.uk/pages/viewPage.html?page=2071

I hate that this is going to be a fight. At one point during the summer as I was learning more and more about the lack of resources available, I even considered what it would take to become Catholic? (Trust me..I wouldn’t fit in..) Where would we have to move to access appropriate resources for T at school? Does it really have to get to that?

Parents we talk to who have kids on the other side of school (now adults and experiencing different challenges) suggest looking at it as a journey instead of a battle. I very much DO look at Autism as an adventure when it comes to the experiences T has brought us. We have learned to be more patient, appreciative, creative and grateful parents and I love how our family works.

They also say:

Fight…Don’t Give UP…YOU are the advocate for your child…YOU are responsible for getting him the best care possible. 

OK…I’m suiting up…ready to take on the fire-breathing dragon….

For reference on the most recent Special Needs Report on the TDSB Click here 

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