Abigayle - posted on 09/02/2010 ( 2 moms have responded )
My children are all military brats; as I was and lived this life for 31 years. Having a child on the spectrum; High Functioning Autism with Severe Violent Behavioral Problems and Sensory Integration Disorder made this life in a military community the biggest challenge any parent could face. As parents of your own special needs child you are aware of the challenge we have just in the area of transitions in regards to an autistic child. So add in daily every day normal transitions that we have struggled with. For me it would be getting him up for school late and dressing him before feeding him; his routine was especially rigid. I had it written down; all to the minute. To just go to Walmart I would have to warn hours ahead of time and a ten minute reminder. I had to drive the same way or he would have a tantrum. Violent tantrums that had Walmart employees about to call child and family services on me because I had to burrito wrap and bear hug him for an hour on the floor in their lawn and garden so he wouldn't keep biting himself and hurting his siblings as well as dig more flesh out of my arm. So add in moving every two to three years; jumping schools and IEP programs and several states. Not to mention a custody battle with his biological father while we lived overseas and another divorce.
Needless to say I have fought every step of the way for my son. I have tried everything and finally succeeded with the dedicated staff of administrators, staff, and special education serivces and EFMP...he is flourishing. The problem is even though our DoDEA guidelines are higher in many people's opinion, and in his last school in Germany I would say I agree...the new school has not as much luck with the above and beyond mentality of the last one. We have children misdiagnosed, overmedicated, shortage of qualified special education teachers, need for adding co teaching styles in class and many other desired extra things to help our children have the best possible environment to grow. We have pretty good resources over all living in a military community; but educating Autism is a high priority for probably all of us as parents with a child on the spectrum. Doing research tonight, in preperation for a meeting with the Superintendent and also in preperation for scheduling a meeting with the General of our post; I realized just how much we need to push for more of outside communitys be autism aware as well. Tricare, the military insurance has started covering ABA therapy in I believe the East Region but I know in the civilian world it comes out of pocket and puts people in debt trying to provide it. I am lucky that I was able to get a similar way to teach my own child but through his previous school. I have not been near an areas to utilize the coverage of my own to have this therapy. I have no cost...no deductibles and access to so many specialists but it is impossible to really find those that are very experienced with Autism. The need is so great for the next reason in my own mind.
Not even eight or so years ago did people with Autism progress to the drastic measures our children have the resources to use for them to be able to. Back only ten years ago or so only 1 in roughly 3000 children were diagnosed with ASD per year. However those that were rarely if ever even mainstreamed to a g.e. classroom and only 2 percent as adults were in regular society. Now we every year see 1 in 110 children diagnosed...a drastic rate increase. BUT....if you look at these kids they are mainstreaming, becoming able to function daily as we never would have expected...they are learning to control the impulses the behaviors...they are brought out of their world and into ours more and more. My son is 95 percent of the time out of Andrew World speaking martian....lol....than he was two years ago. The reason is mainly and has a lot to do with ABA therapy. Doing research I found so much I had no idea about...so many tests and treatments other then medication, ways to educate and implement. Alternative therapy.
My question to everyone out there is if you have any exceptional programs, services, a school that went above and beyond, educating our community ideas etc. Resources anything. I would love some ideas to bring to the Superintendent or later the General to try having our community pull together and raise such an awareness they all help get what our school needs. So our staff and teachers and students have more opportunities and can feel a little less stressed trying to provide what we all wish we could expect. Its one thing to meet guidelines...its another to succeed them and to have a community help you do it is the best way I feel to raise public awareness. Please any thing no matter how small, out there, unconventional...please share.