Toward the end of last year, I dropped some not-too-subtle hints that things were going poorly with Little Miss's school. Many of you suggested an advocate or a lawyer. We tried both. And it was after we hired the lawyer that I decided to stop talking about the whole school situation on my blog.
But that battle is over now and here I sit -- with a signed, implemented IEP. Heck, I even have the first quarter progress report in front of me.
Am I satisfied?
But we have a new place to start. And our starting point is much more solid than what we had six months ago. And that much, I can live with.
I don't know how much of the details of the battle are worth re-telling. The 30,000-foot summary goes something like this:
- April: Little Miss was diagnosed with moderate autism. We were told to get 20-40 hours per week of ABA.
- April: I asked the school for ABA. The school told me that service was not available.
- July: My husband and I explored ABA programs in our area and enrolled Little Miss in one. It was only 15 hours a week, but it was the best we could afford.
- August: I researched our rights and decided to ask the school to help pay for ABA.
- September: The school suddenly had an ABA resource. Two hours of weekly ABA was added to Little Miss's IEP.
- October: We watched the program get started. We knew Little Miss needed more. We asked the school again to help pay for the outplacement ABA.
- December: The school offered to add five more hours of ABA to Little Miss's week. Attending the additional five hours would mean that Little Miss could no longer attend the out-placement ABA service.
- December: We declined. The lawyer advised us that since the school had made an attempt to offer an "appropriate" education, we had no case.
- December: We paid out bill for the out-placement ABA and moved on.
Was it fair? I don't know. In December, the governor of Ohio signed a bill stating that health insurance cannot discriminate against an Autism diagnosis and that ABA will be covered for those with the ASD dx. So, in a word, my state's government feels that ABA is a medical treatment -- and not the responsibility of the education system.
I tend to disagree with this line of thought. ABA allows Little Miss to engage in her educational programming. Without the skills she has learned in ABA, I do not think Little Miss would be able to participate as well as she does in her integrated classroom. She needs what she has learned in ABA in order to consume her schooling.
Along those lines, if ABA is solely the realm of medical offices and therapy clinics, how can we expect teachers to make their classrooms ABA-friendly? Part of the reason Little Miss has continued to grow this year was her classroom teacher's willingness to take the ABA concepts and integrate them into the classroom. But that sort of thing is all out the window if ABA becomes the domain of medical insurance.
I don't want the school to shell out money it doesn't need to. By all means, use the money you would have paid for Little Miss's ABA sessions and buy a therapy swing... or new text books... or something. But this unexpected windfall from the state has me worried. If the school doesn't have to pay for it, will they still be willing to invest in it?