Next blog post will be about Parent Blaming!
What makes this advocate angry related to special education!
As a parent of two adults who have received special education, and an advocate for over 25 years, I have been angered many time by special educators. Something happened recently that reminded me of the one thing that special educators do that send me over the edge--literally makes me want to scream and shout! What is it---lies of omission! What are lies of omission?
From my book Slaying Special Education Dragons where I discuss lies of omission what I mean is things that special educators could have told parents but make a conscious decision not to. What types of things can be lies of omission: 1. Information related to a child’s disability or classification in special education (usually leaving out disabilities). 2. Information about needed special education and related services that the child needs to receive a free appropriate public education. 3.Information about tutoring services, Applied Behavioral Analysis services etc. 4. Information about things happening at school (such as related service provider absence, bullying, bad behavior by school staff etc).
I recently was talking to a mother at a recreation event where my daughter and her son were in attendance. After watching her child for a while we began to talk. I said your child has Autism--and she said no and stated another disability. You guessed it I got angry! Not because I am an Autism expert but because I knew that the school had been lying to this mother about her child’s disability, and that makes my blood boil! As an advocate I have many times had to tell parents that the school was wrong in their “classification” of the child’s disability, but didn’t feel at that moment that I could say anything.
No other “lie” can be so detrimental to a child’s future! Misdiagnosing or classifying the child’s disability means that the child is not receiving appropriate services for their disability. I find this especially true with Autism--the signs can hit special educators in the face and they will still deny that the child has Autism. But courts are beginning to take notice of these lies of omission and are increasingly holding school districts accountable! For example in the case: Amanda J. vs. Clark County 9th circuit court of appeals the court found that: “school psychologist did not inform the parents that their child had characteristics of Autism . . . Procedural violations that interfere with parent participation in the IEP process undermines the essence of IDEA.”
What can be done about lies of omission? It is critical that parents have their child evaluated by a qualified Clinical Psychologist (who is in the private sector and does not work for school districts). This is called an IEE (Independent Educational Evaluation). Slaying Special Education Dragons contains quite a bit of information on how to find a qualified independent evaluator if you need one. Make sure that the evaluator understands your child’s disability and is not biased against children and their parents. Another things parents can do is to educate themselves on their child’s disability, needed special education services, and all laws related to special education. These things will go a long way in dealing with lies of omission!