I’ve spent the last few days being very negative about the Baltimore City Public Schools, with regards to Autism. I’ve smacked them around regarding the choice of the schools where the program is located, and about the transportation services they do – or, frankly, do not – provide.
And that’s all fair. Nothing I’ve said is untrue.
What is unsaid is the positive side, and I do not want to give anyone an impression of the school system’s efforts towards children on the Spectrum as the modern-day version of tossing kids into a back room and ignoring them.
What brought a lot of it into focus was something said by one of my Twitter followers who is a teacher (though not the Monster’s teacher):
I can’t be expected to resolve all your issues w/ your district & transportation I’m only the classroom teacher. #autism #parents
And that’s very, very true.
Ms. A, the Monster’s teacher, is an attentive and wonderful teacher. She’s made every last effort to help us understand better what’s going on in the classroom. She’s worked the wife to develop a checklist-style form that’s tweaked towards our specific concerns – his toileting, specifics on behavior, what he does/doesn’t eat from his lunch – to help ease the burden of daily communication. (It’s a good supplement to our communication notebook.)
Ms. KR, the Monster’s IEP coordinator, has been extremely patient with me and willing to meet with me at almost a moment’s notice whenever I’ve needed to. It was she who reached out to request the impact review in June when we were trying to evaluate how much damage the bus issues had done last year, and whether it rose to the level of a breach of delivered services. She’s had as much of an open door policy as she’s able, given her workload, and has always been very willing to explain to me what’s going on when with the Monster’s IEPs, much less with trying to line up the service providers when I need their attention.
Ms. ER (they really need to limit how many teachers have similar initials, so I’m using first and last for the two), the Monster’s SLP at school last year… could have been more communicative. She was very reluctant sometimes to elaborate on what she’d been doing with the Monster and so it was like pulling teeth sometimes to get her to tell us what she was doing, and how we could reinforce it at home. And we would have loved if she had had time for 1-on-1 work with him. BUT, she was getting some progress out of him, and that’s what we wanted to see.
Ms. F, this year’s SLP, has only seen him once so far this week. On the other hand, she went out of her way to call the wife yesterday to introduce herself and ask what we wanted her to emphasize in addition to the units that the class is working on. She also seems much more willing to work with us in terms of communication than Ms. ER, so we’ll see how that pans out over the school year.
I do have a good understanding of what each one of them is expected to provide to me. As I said back – it’s a matter of recognizing what each person with the school system can do and what their zone of responsibility is. I don’t bother Ms. A about transportation, and I’m not going to expect Ms. ER to fix problems with the Monster eating lunch. The majority of the professionals who work with the Monster are invested in his doing well and his making progress towards his IEP goals. And that’s what matters the most with regards to school. On that level, I think that Baltimore City Public Schools do a decent job for children like the Monster.
Now… if only I could feel the same about the transportation office or where Early Learning put the services…