Ian was three years old when I first sat around a conference table at Meadowbrook School and begged for more help for him at an IEP meeting. At that time, Ian only said a few words, preferring to communicate with people through hand written notes or sign language. He read fluently, hated loud noises, and screamed a lot. I didn’t know why he couldn’t talk and what would help him, but I knew he needed something more.
The school brushed off my concerns and said that two hours a day was enough help for him, so I gave up. What did I know at that point? It’s not like anyone hands you a disability book at a baby shower, though maybe they should.
Since then, I’ve become a battle-hardened parent who knows how to push a school district for more speech therapy and knows when it’s time to call a lawyer. Those IEP meetings have etched two deep groves between my eyebrows and shortened my life span with inadequate sleep.
Autism is a game changer for schools and social services, because our kids have multiple problems and aren’t easily put in a box. Schools don’t know know what to do with our kids. And the state has no clue what to do with autistic adults. With autism rates increasing everywhere and costs skyrocketing, solutions are urgently needed.