When my son was born, I knew he was special. He had a long journey ahead of him, full of wonder and hope. We lived in California when he was born, but after a few months, we moved back east to be closer to family and friends. He was a very loving, playful child. As he got older, and started talking, he would always tell us he loved us.
As the years went by, I quickly realized my son would struggle a good deal of his formative years. I thought this was a cruel twist of fate for the longest time, and I blamed God. It took me a long time to realize God put my son in this place. My wife and I were put in his life for a reason as well, to advocate for him to the best of our ability. This wasn’t something I ever thought I had inside me. A child with Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and a bit of ODD at times is a challenge. I won’t deny that. But I’m learning to see through the disorder and see him in my mind as the vulnerable child who needs his Mom and Dad more than anything else in this world.
Once I realized I had to advocate for my son, I thought that was it. But I soon realized God wanted more from me. He wanted me to advocate for more than my son. Sometimes the ideas that pop into my head for stories are things I have never even thought of. It’s like one door opens to an idea, only to find myself travelling through a whole house of words. My wife complains my stories are too long sometimes. And I agree with her. I’ve tried to keep them a bit shorter. But when I am doing a long story, like my investigative series on the DOE in Delaware, I find so much stuff out.
My name is Kevin Ohlandt, and I am proud to be a special needs father, a husband, and an advocate for any special needs child in need. And what we need is change. Change in our education system, as well as special education. Say no to high-risk testing special needs parents. Opt-out if you have the courage, not for yourself, but for your child. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be hard to put it back in. That genie is Pearson or Smarter Balanced Testing. Don’t let our government change IDEA and IEPs so much that they do not benefit the individual child. These are my goals, and we all need to get together and say this out loud. Join my Facebook group, EDPAST, so we can become so large they can’t ignore us. Thank you for all you have done for my son already. I couldn’t have done this without the trailblazers who are already out there.