Tomorrow is Jackson’s last day of PreK. It almost seems impossible that we made it to the end of the year in one piece.
This year has been difficult for Jackson and our family (I’m sure his teaches would say the same thing).
The year started with a lot of sad faces on his daily calendar. There were meltdowns and hard transitions. There was a lot of anger, frustration, aggression, stress, anxiety and tears (for Jackson and myself).
There were doctor appointments and an ADHD diagnosis (on top of the ones he already had).
He started ADHD medicine because the classroom was just too overwhelming. That medicine flipped a switch and made school manageable. I’m a firm believer that ADHD medicine can be a game changer for some kids. I’ve seen it first hand in mine. It made the impossible, possible.
This year a behavior plan was put in place.
I urged school officials to see that Jackson’s behaviors were directly tied to his diagnosis. He is not a bad kid!
This year there were a lot of meetings and an attorney and big decisions made about our son’s education.
This year I learned a little more about perseverance, faith and grace.
This year I felt defeated more times than I care to admit.
This year I worried.
There were days I wanted to do anything but drop Jackson off at school.
I woke up around 4:30 this morning and this blog post was born.
I kept thinking about all the struggles we’ve faced this school year and I came to this realization:
Kids like Jackson shouldn’t be left to fall through the cracks.
An administrator in our IEP meeting raved about the inclusive classroom Jackson attended. She said Jackson is a success story.
The reason Jackson is a success story is because his dad and I have fought tooth and nail to make sure his educational needs were met. We’ve gone the extra mile to make sure he could function in the classroom.
The reason he’s a success story is because his teacher and speech therapist didn’t give up on him.
He’s not a success story because of anything administration has done. They do not get to pat themselves on the back or pretend to be the heroes in our story.
If left up to administration, my son would have fallen through the cracks!
I have a son who still struggles even in an inclusive class with 14 students. There’s a teacher and two aides and he often requires one-on-one help.
But the plan for next year was to throw him in a kindergarten class without additional support. If he had a hard time, he’d be sent down the hall to the resource room.
When I voiced my concerns about this plan during our IEP meeting and explained our reasons for moving to a new school district, every member of the IEP team shook their heads in agreement.
They KNEW the plan written in the IEP wasn’t the best for Jackson, but it was all they could offer him.
I wanted to scream.
I wanted to say, why can’t you do better for kids like Jackson? But I’ve been fighting this same fight since he entered the district as a three-year-old and they’ve yet to do better.
And that’s not okay!
Sure, Jackson will be okay. We sold our house and moved to a better school. A school where diagnosis doesn’t drive placement. We’re moving to a school with programs and better options for our son.
But what about all the other kids like Jackson who don’t have parents advocating for them?
What about the families who can’t move to a better school district?
What about the kids who don’t have Autism, but who have ADHD, Dyspraxia, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorder and a hundred other diagnosis that make school really hard?
What happens to these kids?
The administration will probably throw a party when they no longer have to deal with the Linck’s.
On one hand I felt this obligation to stay and fight for kids like Jackson; to be their voice. I didn’t want to give up until something better was put in place for my son and other students like him. But my son’s eduction takes priority and sometimes you just need a fresh start and a break from the emotional roller coaster ride you’ve been on for the past three years.
I can only hope our fight for Jackson will trickle down and eventually help other kids like him.
I hope as more “Jacksons” walk through the school doors, administration will see they deserve better than being sent to a resource room.
I hope I’ve at least brought awareness about Dyspraxia, ADHD, Apraxia of Speech and Sensory Processing Disorder and the impact they have on a child in the classroom.
These kids have so much potential; we can’t let them fall through the cracks!
That’s not okay!