Hey Disability Bigots, God Doesn’t Like Discrimination @TouretteNet @Touretteprobs @TicTalkTourette #netde #eduDE

I’m sick of it. I’m so damn sick of it. How ignorant can people be? They are flying off the handle over nothing. A boy looking at a table at a craft fair. The vendor running it. Boy’s mother bumps into something at the table by accident. Vendor starts screaming at mother and saying something is wrong with her boy. It’s called Tourette Syndrome genius. He can’t help it, but you can help your rage. That is a choice. My sons tics are not. Don’t worry, your not the only one. He’s been called a “mother fucker” recently by an adult. Been told countless other things as well and not just by that man.

Many people have remarked how something is very wrong with him. Thanks for that. I needed your opinion. My recommendation: read up on Tourette Syndrome and then buy a book about judging others and how to keep your mouth shut. Or you can read this, but please shut up. And if you are reading this, and you have children of your own with disabilities, you can still shut up. Thank you. I forgive you. I forgive everyone eventually. But I never forget. And all of you have lost a little bit of light in the world by not knowing the awesome boy my son is.

I have to wonder where manners and any sense of compassion went. It used to be people didn’t do this kind of stuff. But it’s happening, more and more. Yes, I have a son with a disability. And guess what, we’re not going anywhere so you had best get used to it. If you can’t, then deal with it yourself. Don’t bring your prejudice and discrimination to my family’s world. We’ve had just about enough of that. If you can’t handle kids with disabilities at large gatherings, then you might want to stay home. Cause kids like mine, he is one of 13% of kids in this state with disabilities. And those numbers are rising. I can’t say why, they just are. Maybe it’s all the crap in the atmosphere. Maybe it’s all those preservatives we love to put in our body. Maybe God is testing us all to learn patience. I don’t know. But I deal with it, every day. Like every parent, it’s a learning experience, followed by trial and error. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I get it very wrong. We all make mistakes.

A couple weeks ago I was at my son’s school. A little girl was being accompanied by a teacher. She came in an just stared at me. She didn’t speak at all. My guess is she was autistic. The look she gave me was one of hope, of true happiness. She walked over to me, smiling the whole time. The teacher came over and said I’m sorry. I told her it was alright. We are all God’s children, so how can we judge anyone based on that? If God made some of us to have disabilities, it’s cause God knew the person having them would be very strong. I still think He has a plan for all of this. Throughout history we have been faced with these types of tests and sometimes we pass with flying colors. But sometimes we fail, and when that happens, the world suffers. I want to believe that everyone has goodness in theme, and they can use that compassion and do good things. I know I need to do it more. So how about the next time you see a child having tics, or a child freaking out in a store from sensory overload, or a blind or deaf person struggling, how about you ask them if they need help. Maybe reach out a hand instead of throwing a voice.

Advertisements

Discrimination, Bullying & Isolation In A World of Inclusion

This is going to be one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written. The reason for this is because it is deeply personal. I write about bullying and discrimination often on this blog, and I understand it all too well. I see it everyday, in all walks of life.

“People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer.” Andrew Smith

Everyone in this world has bullied or been bullied at some point in their lives. Any time you exert will and force on someone to get a desired outcome, this could be defined as bullying. I am guilty of it. In my quest to have the perfect IEP for my son, I have expected knowledge and wisdom of my son’s disabilities greater than my own. This has been my life for the past 9 1/2 months. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until someone said these simple words: “You’ve had two years to understand your son’s Tourette Syndrome. His teachers have had eight weeks. And I’m sure you don’t fully understand it at times.” In a very odd way, my attempts at advocacy for my son in school can be viewed as a type of bullying. I admit I have been forceful in my attempt to do the best for my son, and at times the lines may have blurred between right and wrong ways to go about that.

“A lot of people are afraid to tell the truth, to say no. That’s where toughness comes into play. Toughness is not being a bully. It’s having backbone.” Robert Kiyosaki

Those words affected me in a huge way. My son’s teachers are with him seven hours a day. When I say teachers, I mean the entire school staff, whether they are certified or not. These are people who have been placed in an educational environment to help children succeed. They have hundreds of decisions they need to make on a daily basis. We expect them to make the right choices constantly. But they can and do make wrong ones. They are only human. Unfortunately, teachers are put in impossible situations all the time with disabled students. When I hear about my son calling out in class, or being disruptive, I sometimes wonder what would happen if a non-disabled student did the same thing. Chances are, with my son’s IEP, he would receive a gentle warning followed by a positive reinforcement statement. For a student without disabilities, the reaction may be different. Is this fair to this type of student?

“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” Bill Watterson

This makes me question humanity itself. We will give one type of treatment to a group of people because we are required to, but not another. Some teachers will utilize the techniques they see in an IEP with the entire class. But for those who don’t, I can see how some students and parents could see this as a type of favoritism or preferential treatment. I think, in an odd way, this creates a bizarre type of resentment against students with disabilities. Students certainly pick up on it. I can see the conversation already: “Johnny threw a pencil and he was talked to and nothing else happened. When I did it, I had to go to the principal’s office.” For this student, something complex happens. He sees Johnny doing things and gets away with it, but for others they get in trouble. Students, especially those in elementary and middle school, are shaped by those around them. They expect everyone to get the same treatment.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Do I think that student is going to reach out a hand of friendship to a disabled student? Sadly, probably not. The opposite usually happens, and this is when teasing or bullying comes into play. It can be a quiet, covert type of bullying. What happens next, which has happened time and time again with my son, is the disabled student’s reaction being far greater than the original sin. It’s like a snowball sliding down a hill, getting bigger and bigger every inch it moves. Soon, what was once a very small thing becomes so enormous it can’t be ignored. These things could be prevented, but it would take a very educated and compassionate person to stop it.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

If the non-disabled student goes home and tells his parents about this, the parent may call the school. Due to privacy laws the school can’t just say “That kid is on an IEP due to his disability.” This puts the school in a very awkward position. This can result in issues where the non-disabled child is pulled out of the school, and perhaps sent to a charter school or a private school. Or the charter school just can’t handle issues with disabled children, and the student is “counseled out”. These scenarios play out every day in our country and many of us don’t see the forest through the trees.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, outside of the school environment, these rules don’t apply. If a disabled child has an issue with another child in the neighborhood, a parent may tell the other parent about their child’s disability. At this point, the parent makes a choice: Do I let my child hang out with another child with this disability knowing issues can creep up more often? My hope would be yes, because it teaches our youth about tolerance and understanding. But the reality is a different landscape. I’ve seen it with my own son, where he is completely cut off from playing with certain children. Far too many people see disabilities as a type of mental illness, and when they hear the word medication, it raises this type of belief to high levels.

“I have learned that the biggest disability any of us may ever face is our own attitudes.” Jeffrey K. Walton

Advocacy is the art of informing another about an issue in a desired attempt to achieve resolution. In so many situations with my son, we have attempted to advocate first before issues could arise. But it is my fear this creates certain labels about him in others minds. When issues happen, the first thing this person may think is “They told me he has issues, well I’m not going to let my own kid be a part of that.” I have seen this time and time again, and it doesn’t matter which child has created the issue. It becomes the simple fact that problems are there, and instead of the adults getting together to resolve it, it becomes a blame game. It results in isolation for my son. The worst part is when he does see these kids again and more issues arise. Then it becomes something bigger than the sum of its parts. This is when parents who may have once been friends, turn on each other. The rational part of the mind is replaced by fear and misunderstanding. Anger takes hold, and that’s when things can get ugly, and what started out as a small problem can result in fences that can never be repaired.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to do anything on which it is poured.” Mark Twain

I read the blog Teachezwell often, because this is a special education teacher who is at the top of her game. She gets the students she is helping. She understands how so many of those issues are beyond their capability of controlling. She is not only a teacher, but for these students, their primary advocate at school. I wish I could clone her and place her everywhere in life. But I can’t, and I have to deal with this discrimination my son experiences almost on a daily basis. I see it in stores, or at a park, or anywhere the public is present and they see my son acting out or not listening to me. I understand him and what his limits and capabilities are. I know many of the triggers that cause him to do particular things. But how can I expect others too? Children don’t get an IEP outside of school, but I really wish they could. This is impossible. As long as there is fear and misunderstanding about things that aren’t viewed as “normal”, discrimination will exist.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Let’s face it, the vast majority of people who don’t have disability issues in their everyday lives do not attempt to reach out and educate themselves on it. I don’t blame them. It’s not like I research the effect of global warming on crops in Nebraska because it isn’t a part of my world. But to farmers in Nebraska, they don’t have a choice. If I were to meet one of these farmers, he may try to educate me on the dangers his crops are facing, but I would most likely walk away not absorbing what he said. It’s not because I’m selfish or uncaring, it’s because it doesn’t impact me the same way it does them. This is true of children with disabilities when parents advocate for them to the “outside” world. Adrenaline kicks in during problems, and the basic human tenet of “fight or flight” invariably kicks in.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

Is there any fix to these problems? Not an easy one. It would take a willingness of people to learn and find ways to resolve issues and not escalate them. It sounds very bleak. My heart reaches out to these children who feel cut off from the world and are alone so many times in their lives. They want to feel normal. They want someone to reach out to them and say simple words like “I understand,” or “I know what you are going through.” Loneliness and despair are the biggest enemies to these children. It’s where their thoughts start to live, and a deep and lasting sadness invades the light of their souls.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Inclusion is a good thing. It puts disabled children on the same level playing field with their peers. But it can also have some nasty side effects, the biggest being seclusion in an inclusive environment. I know my audience for this article is going to be those who are in this world in one shape or another. But I would encourage anyone reading this to pass it on. All too often, people don’t know what an issue is unless they see it. Please share this with those outside of the disability world. Unless we educate those who don’t have a vested interest, we can’t expect them to care as much as we do. It’s sad, but it’s reality. Whether a child has ADHD, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, or is blind or deaf, humanity doesn’t view these issues the same way as those who are knee-deep into them. But the best we can do is try, and try again.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama

To read the very awesome Teachezwell blog, please go to http://teachezwell.me/

Eagles Wings Ministries: Last Warning- No member of your flock is to go near my son, adults and children included! #netde #eduDE @DoverPost

This is your absolute last warning. I don’t know what kind of church you run, and I don’t really care. What I do know is your youth group leader ABUSED my son physically, and your church turned a blind eye and then denied it with the only true witnesses being the youth group leader and her son. You then used children to cover your asses and deny it to the police. Yes, my wife yelled at you and swore at you, but any parent would after your cover-up. No more. Tell your youth group leader that her daughter can not and will not bully my son at school. We will be filing a report tomorrow, so you may want to get some intervention for a certain family in your flock. I will not be having this conversation again. Once again, this is your last warning. If you don’t like my stories about you, then leave my son the hell alone. You don’t get to play the victim here. Do you understand me? If not, I would be more than happy to talk about it in front of a police officer.  Again…

UPDATED: For any new readers, this is an ongoing thing with a whacked-out church in my area.  I know they are reading this, so I just needed to make things very crystal clear for them.  And Stacie Bohannon, I would tell your daughter to stay away from my son.  I don’t want her looking at him, laughing at him, sticking her tongue out at him, and certainly not spreading rumors about him.

You’ll Never Guess What My Son Got In The Mail Yesterday!!! Will He Go? Hell No!!!

So I get home from work yesterday, go to the mailbox, and I see this in there:

e5b00f_56e64e0170bb45d7a7716fafc10b272e_png_srz_351_137_75_22_0_50_1_20_0

For those unfamiliar with this story, please read this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/disability-discrimination-local-church-youth-leader-assaults-my-son/

and this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/eagles-wings-ministries-started-their-bible-school-this-week-parents-beware/

and this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/the-eagles-wings-ministries-and-pizza-google-search/

Okay, now that you know the lowdown, I will address the rest of this post to Eagles Wings Ministries. before you go, please don’t go to this bizarre Lion King Pride Rock thing. A guy named Jim Jones had some church thing with Kool-Aid once. Stay home, watch Shark Week. It’s free, and your children won’t be emotionally scarred. But if you do go, watch your kids, especially if they don’t go on the slip and slide! Back to the church that may have named themselves after a Bette Midler song.

Are you out of your friggin’ mind? You knew my son lived in this neighborhood. You couldn’t have done just a tiny bit of research to know which mailbox NOT to put your Lion King Thing inside of? Really? Do you honestly think for one second I would bring my child back to your Child Abuse-Denial Church? The odds of me ever bringing him back to your little safari adventure are about as great as me bringing him to special education night at Campus Community School with Janet Asay Miller and Chuck Taylor. My bad, Chuck isn’t there anymore. He’s too busy blowing the Charter School Network trumpet. Or is that Kendall? You can never tell these days. Hey Readers, did you check this out: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-charter-school-network-wants-you-to-comment-cmon-special-needs-parents-lets-comment-netde-edude-delaware_gov/ or this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/googling-delaware-charter-schools-network-special-education-netde-edude-delawarebats/

Whoa, got off track there. Too busy shameless plugging when I was talking about your cult, er, uhm, AHEM, Church! You see, this almost went away. Right after (and I mean literally, right after, I posted the Eagles Wings and Pizza Google thing, I saw an article from the News Journal which prompted this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/breaking-news-feds-want-to-intervene-in-delaware-special-education/ and I that got me upset too. But that was a good thing, cause I’ve done a bit of investigating to find out what was up with that: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-netde-edude-del_gov-destateboarded-usedgov/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-part-2-netde-edude-usedgov-delaware_gov/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/part-3-of-the-delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-netde-edude-usedgov-delaware_gov/ All those stories totally kicked your ass in terms of readers. But up until my last story about your bird church, the story of how your Youth Group Leader assaulted my son got the most readers. And people still read it, just about every day since.

But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about blog statistics. Let’s get back to disability discrimination! I never heard back from you guys at all. We left a message with your “district” headquarters, but they never called. Maybe they were feeding kids at summer camp like it’s ration night in London during the Blitz in World War II. Just because I got distracted on my special education blog with, you know, special education, doesn’t mean I forgot about you. I drive past your church all the time. And instead of what I used to think before my son went to your famine dinner youth group, “Wow, that church is empty all the time”, I now think “That’s where Stacie Bohannon told my son to consider his ways before and after she kicked, tripped, and pushed him to the ground.”

In any event, just between us, you may want to keep the kids away from Miss You-Know-Who. I understand this event will have trips through the Amazon Rainforest, the African Savannah and The Australian Plains (which most people call “The Outback” by the way, they even named a steak house after it. Oh wait, don’t want families to think they are getting steak. Gotcha!). Kids might get pushed into quicksand, thrown off a cliff, or kicked by a kangaroo if Miss You-Know-Who has her way. Just sayin’. Since your going with The Lion King theme, you might want to have parents stay away from Miss Scar.

imagesE1AY5YI2

I have to ask. Why the whole Lion King theme? That would have been cool if it was, I don’t know, 1994! Kids these days aren’t into Lion King that much. Their more into The Lego Movie and the other 50 movies Disney has released since the Simba Death movie. Whatever floats your boat. Speaking of boats, did you check this out dear readers: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/indian-river-student-injured-in-classroom-titanic-experiment/ Dammit, I strayed again. Sorry Eagles Wings. I keep doing that, don’t I? What was I saying? Oh yeah, your theme. If your going to go for an older movie theme, might I suggest this:

untitled

But I do see you have more food bait for families to attend your event. More pizza slices cut into four pieces for kids? Or are you going to try new stuff, like rotisserie chicken and the kids get to eat the skin? Or maybe it will be spaghetti night, and each child will get three strands of spaghetti with ketchup! Will drinks be provided or will they have to drink from that nasty water fountain again?

Good luck with the rumble through the jungle Eagles Wings. If I hear any police sirens this week, Monday to Friday, August 11th to the 15th, from 6pm to 9pm, it won’t be hard to guess where they are going! Hakuna Matata!

Governor Markell – Are casinos more important than disabled children? ***Updated***

In Delaware, some of the most severely complex special needs students with disabilities are being shuffled out of Delaware. This is a tragedy on several levels. Elizabeth Scheinberg, in her excellent Children & Educators First blog, explains it better than I ever could. I saw her first post a couple weeks ago, and found it to be very disturbing on many levels. We can bail out casinos for $9.9 million dollars, but we can’t take care of our disabled children that need to be with their families the most? Legislators said the casinos are too big to fail. I say the children of Delaware are too important to fail.

Delaware needs to find a way to bring good psychiatrists and psychologists to this state. The services south of the canal are few and far between. If you want good services, you have to go to Wilmington, which is not the greatest in the country. To get excellent services, you have to go out of state. I have heard of famiies bringing their child to a psychologist, or “behavior therapist”, and before they even talk to the child, they say nothing is wrong with them. This needs to be a wakeup call for everyone in Delaware. To rip any child away from their family in this fashion should be illegal. Delaware’s legislators should seriously make this a campaign issue.

I’ve been doing research on the history of disabled children in America recently, and upon reading this it feels like Delaware is going back 70 years in special education on this matter. There is a lot of money that is wasted in this state. A lot. But when disabled children can’t be with their family because we lack the capacity to deal with their medical needs, there is something horrifyingly wrong with this picture.

From Elizabeth Scheinberg’s post on Children & Educators First: http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2014/07/delawares-institutionalized.html?showComment=1405201093924

From her story a year ago on the same subject: http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2013/07/delawares-14-million-question-why-does.html

From Kilroy’s Delaware: http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/more-proof-delaware-sec-of-education-lacks-capacity-to-lead-ships-spec-needs-students-out-of-state/

The complete 2013 ICT Report: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/NEW/FinalICTAnnualReportFY13.pdf

2012 ICT Report: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/NEW/ICTAnnualFY12.pdf

2011 ICT Report: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/files/ICTAnnualReportFY11.pdf

2010 ICT Report: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/Rep_Forms_Pub/FFY2011%20IDEAApplication/ICTFY10Annual%20Report2.25.2011.pdf

2009 ICT Report: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/specialed/files/ICTAnnualRpt09.pdf

My gut take on this, which you can also see in my comments on the other posts, is that I would bet my bottom dollar some of this could have been prevented had schools given proper accommodations and parental training (which is legal under IDEA law). These are our children Governor Markell. Is a casino more important than them? Once again, the race to the top is littered with special needs children at the bottom. Is it any wonder we need federal intervention for special education? Maybe it’s time to call the President.

UPDATED 7/13/14, 9:01 PM: The comments on Kilroy’s Delaware have become very emotional. I stand by what I have said the whole time on this. Here’s a copy:

10 Responses
Jon’s loving father, on July 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm said:
I actually saw this a couple weeks ago and was going to do an updated article on it. Guess I’ll have to wait til the 13-14 figures come out! Sounds like we are looking for the same stuff…lol!

(I didn’t realize at the time Elizabeth Scheinberg already did an update on the original article from last year)

John Young, on July 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm said:
Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

Jon’s loving father, on July 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm said:
I just commented on her blog as well, but I will say the same thing here. Ten to one the schools aren’t accommodating these kids the way they should, and blaming the parents. The parents are probably resisting the schools, and this is the result. It’s like it’s the 15th century all over again.

Joanne Christian, on July 13, 2014 at 3:33 am said:
Sorry, but this bleeding heart has been cauterized in regards to the high drama that has been misrepresented in the tenor of this report out.

Having been familiar with some of those out-of-state placements, I can assure you those families took a deep breath and were RELIEVED the panel decided the best placement could not be found within the boundaries of our state, and identified an appropriate facility elsewhere.

Your incindiary description of these difficult placements, misleads the reader into imagining children ripped from their mother’s bosom, as the other children witness an empty chair at dinner, and their mother’s woeful sobs into the night of her baby–her baby, sent to North Carolina…….

Thirty two children in the entire state are sent out of state for much needed, individualized, intensive services, and you want to demonize the people for offering that choice and access? You want to blow up the system, because the most difficult, challenging, fragile, vulnerable and neediest children can’t just show up at their local 7-11–er I mean school–and expect Baked Alaska, when we all know Slurpees and a variety of Tastykakes is the menu or program capacity?

Healthcare and education of a child are the two most manipulated public service agencies working towards continuing favorable outcomes for a child. Why is it, a parent will take a riverboat, camel ride, and New York taxi to get their child to a specialized hospital, full well knowing, the care, equipment, talent, and expertise needed must be delivered in areas drawing critical mass, so that funding remains efficient, and available MORE handily in order to deliver care to MORE children? It’s an economic reality, obviously misunderstood by those who begrudge the inconvenience of where a child is being offered the very best in educational services, and the child is the very mirror counterpart of that severely, compromised medical child?

And the mournful, “meaningful loss of time under one roof, support systems, and reunification” ? Reality check coming your way…..
How well do you think those dynamics were in play, prior to the offer of a distant placement? One of the most driven, caring, hard-working, loving ladies I ever met in my long career–confided in me, her placement hearing in regards to a severely physical and mentally handicapped son resulted in her just laying her cards on the table….”I will do whatever, is in the best interest of my son,as you have decided to meet his needs. I am prepared to continue in this role. However, whichever way you decide, I will be 100% mother to him–but his age now, and the evolving demands of his care, in the best interest of my other 3 children, I am or will request foster care placement for them, because there is no other mother to tend to them once my entire focus and energy is rightfully priortized to their very needy brother. (BTW husband bailed by the time child hit 6).

Your critical expose’ of a RARE assignment to a distance placement, is unfair without disclosure of case findings that would deem that placement merciless, cruel, and reprehensible. The work the ICT is tasked with overseeing is heart-wrenching enough, without the added undeserved attention of being made to feel like Herods, instead of the Solomons they are compassionately trying to stand beside.

THIRTY TWO children out of state. No doubt every one of them given a better, more comprehensive chance at progressing to a greater degree, than remaining within our 3 little counties. Many of those with multi-faceted, heavy, complex overlays of mental, physical, and developmental struggles that have usurped any sense of normalcy in a family. And that means THIRTY TWO families AGREED, it’s best to go–and take this opportunity–for EVERYONE. Because, by law, those THIRTY TWO families could absolutely decline the placement.

Sorry, but I see the ICT as angels in these families’ lives, and not so much the adversary that has been planted.

kilroysdelaware, on July 13, 2014 at 6:16 am said:
Joanne, at the end of the day the question is, why does Delaware / DE DOE lack the resources to serve all students of such need within Delaware’s borders?
Millions are wasted on Markell’s self-serving ed reform agenda that could better serve these children in needs instate.
But yes parents often make hard decision for the interest of their children and surely all wish there were another way like instate.

John Young, on July 13, 2014 at 8:10 am said:
Joanne,
Is it possible that those 32 would have preferred the same out of home placement in-state? ICT is a political body, just like all boards. They are not angels, just as they are not devils.

elizabeth, on July 13, 2014 at 9:44 am said:
First and foremost, I ran this post, almost word for word a year ago. I’m sad that you didn’t engage until the annual update of our system failure.
“Thirty two children in the entire state are sent out of state for much needed, individualized, intensive services, and you want to demonize the people for offering that choice and access?”
No, Joanne, I was very clear – I don’t argue the need. I argue Delaware’s lack of capacity to serve these children in Delaware.
“You want to blow up the system, because the most difficult, challenging, fragile, vulnerable and neediest children can’t just show up at their local 7-11–er I mean school–and expect Baked Alaska, when we all know Slurpees and a variety of Tastykakes is the menu or program capacity?”
That’s really disrespectful. Did you know that until four years ago, we were sending children to Judge Rotenberg where they were candidates for electroshock therapy? Archaic? Only since 2010 when a lawsuit eliminated the practice.
I agree with you – these children need private residential placement. But, this placement should be happening here in Delaware. Read the ICT report and I can tell you haven’t as the team acknowledges it is being used and abused and that its hands are tied by the code that created it.
“How well do you think those dynamics were in play, prior to the offer of a distant placement?”
They weren’t. But, they shouldn’t be off the table simply because a child needs a residential placement that isn’t available in Delaware.
“Your critical expose’ of a RARE assignment to a distance placement, is unfair without disclosure of case findings that would deem that placement merciless, cruel, and reprehensible.”
It was an expose a year ago. It’s annual update to a Delaware Solution now. And Read the report. You know as well as I do that no lay person will ever see the case findings. But, we can imagine how horrible they are, an emotional tangled mess, heart-wrenching to the core. I can more than imagine them, I know some families, too. I’ve witnessed the effects of placement out of state.
“Sorry, but I see the ICT as angels in these families’ lives, and not so much the adversary that has been planted.”
You’re right, given that Delaware doesn’t deem providing instate services and placement to these children as valuable, ICT is an angel for these families. No argument there.
But, it doesn’t exclude this state or that system from critical review. We need to attract talent and services to Delaware. And we need it, yesterday. The trend data shows that the need for ICT intervention is rising and quickly.
You know what, just read the report. Until this post, few had read it, few new it existed, even fewer cared. And if the you find destroying family units sensational, it did its job either way – some people are finally interested in reading the report. And that is always the goal.

Pencadermom, on July 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm said:
So what is the reason for sending to various states? Is it because there isn’t enough room in the Bear facility or because some children need more specific individualized care that isn’t available in Bear or anywhere else nearby? I would think the parents would want the very best program for their child, no matter where it is. Are the families for or against this? Obviously they would want their child as close as possible but how could that always be possible? I am thinking about people I know who have gone to hospitals far away, and drug rehab. far away, because that was where they found the best resources and help for their specific needs. Wouldn’t this be similar? Are the parents being asked to pay for this?

Jon’s loving father, on July 13, 2014 at 8:38 pm said:
Joanne, I’m sorry if you were so offended by Elizabeth’s article. Both Kilroy and I jumped on it, because it shows how ineffective special education has been in this state. I’ve seen firsthand how a school can treat a child. And I firmly believe that had my wife and I not intervened so strongly when we did, my son would one day be heading to one of these types of facilities.
I’m not saying all behavior can disappear over night with a child that has disabilities. But they can be taught different ways to deal with them. Positive behavior reinforcements are not used to the degree they should be in many of our schools. Zero tolerance holds a higher importance to many teachers instead of dealing with behavior effectively. No school is perfect, but schools have just as much growing up to do as children in my opinion. I think teachers have one of the toughest jobs in the world, and they are underpaid, and under appreciated. But they also have a solemn responsibility to teach our children. And teaching isn’t just common core and curriculum. It’s also teaching them how to be productive AND caring members of society. Some will say that’s a parents job, and it is. But I think it is also teacher’s responsibility as well. They are with our children more of their young life than their parents in some situations.
Do I believe schools can do more with education? Absolutely. Do I believe the DOE can do much more than they have to help the schools with special education? Absolutely. But I blame the governor the most for not allocating funding so Delaware can bring more psychiatric services to our state. It’s not a matter of “big cities get all the funding”. It’s a matter of doing the right thing for the people of your state. The fact these parents are thrilled their children are being sent away from their state to get good services speaks volumes in itself. The fact the government does nothing, in what, 6-7 years there has been an ICT, to improve and attract these types of services to our state is sickening.

Give me a break, on July 13, 2014 at 12:22 pm said:
More importantly is that there are more than 32 kids needing intense service and because it’s expensive districts fight tooth and nail to keep those kid in house and under serve them dramatically! Meanwhile jeopardizing service and safety to the rest of the student body.

So there you have it folks. I think Governor Markell should come out with a statement on this. What do you say Delaware News Journal, Delaware State News, Dover Post, and the rest. Who wants to call the governor tomorrow to get a statement on this?

UPDATED 7/15/14, 11:35am, with more of the comments section from Kilroy’s Delaware:
elizabeth, on July 14, 2014 at 9:40 am said:
PM – the problem is that Delaware lacks the capacity to serve its own. No, the parents do not pay for it. The tax payers do – sending our tax dollars to other state’s private facilities. These are private placements – not facilities affiliated with hospital systems or public education. Our children represent a profit to be had for these providers. And we’re spending roughly $17 million on this system – 3 million more than the previous year.
The problem with the system is that Delaware has failed to attract service providers. Meanwhile over a 2 year period we spent roughly $31 million. We are looking at black hole – the need is rising, the trend data supports this, but we are not looking for more efficient ways to provide the services needed – such as developing capacity in-state.
The other problem is that once these children are placed residentially – not day program – the odds of reunification in the home environment become nil. Unlike drug rehab, these placements are not temporary.
Yes, families tend to be grateful for the placement. They are at wits end caring for a child that needs more than they can give – more than this state offers. The permancy of the predicament often sets in after they’ve had time to recover from the crisis. And by then it’s too late.
That’s just plain wrong. We shouldn’t be shipping our children off to other states. We should be developing capacity here at home.

Pencadermom, on July 14, 2014 at 10:36 am said:
Really? I did not know that statistically they don’t return home. Is this a school issue or medical?

Pencadermom, on July 14, 2014 at 10:39 am said:
From some of the stories I’ve read on here and heard, the lines between medical and education overlap quite a bit. Is there no limit of what we expect of teachers inside a classroom, especially when they have such a large number of students already? Where do we draw the line so they can be effective?

elizabeth, on July 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm said:
PM – For this subset of children, it’s frequently a both issue. The purpose of the ICT is to provide a collaborative interagency approach to service delivery for children and youth with disabilities who present educational needs that cannot be addressed through the existing resources of a single agency. 9 different agencies are represented on this team.
However, the report states that frequently the educational placement can be attained in Delaware, it’s the residential component that can’t be.
And, yes, many/most of the residential students are lifers. They go in and the only way out is through aging out. Twenty of the 2013 students in residential placement are 18-21.
From the report: Students exit Unique Alternative services
for multiple reasons that include: the level of service is
no longer required, families move out of state, students withdraw from the education system, or students age out at the conclusion of the school year in which they reach 21 years of age.
In 2013, 4 aged out, these students went on to enter the adult system for care and support. Three graduated, seven were cured, one moved out of state, two transferred to treatment centers, one was adjudicated to an out-of-state placement, and one was incarcerated.
In 2012, there were 22 students ages 18 to 21. 3 aged out, one withdrew and one student was cured and returned to the district. But, remember, these numbers, for both years, represent children in both day and residential programs. We are not given enough data in the reports to discern one population from another.

elizabeth, on July 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm said:
Oh, PM, I know where to draw the line. I don’t dispute the need for these placements. I am driving the conversation about where these children should be served. We need to invest in Delaware, first and foremost.

Joanne Christian, on July 13, 2014 at 11:47 pm said:
John, Elizabeth, and JLF,
To Elizabeth and John first–you KNOW I would want these very necessary services for children, but am more defensive that it ends up being conveyed as certain children, more or less, are boarding an orphan train to stops that can manage them. Also, (and to you JLF), I realize my writing syntax can sometimes backread as harsh or unyielding–it really comes out in me, when all the problems in our current education model get revisited or ressurrected, with the spotlight sometimes being placed on the wrong culprit. I sincerely feel this is one of those times. But before I go on…..I have to know we can still all carpool together to Dover and eat Girl Scout cookies?

Jack, on July 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm said:
By the number it’s apparent these children have great needs.
Question 1–How are these children provided care before going put of state.
Question 2–when does ICT enter the picture?
Question 3–what do we need to do to keep these children in Delaware?

elizabeth, on July 15, 2014 at 8:51 am said:
Jack, here are your answers:
1. These children are being cared for in their parents/guardians homes through a piecemeal approach to services. Frequently, the services that these families need simply to not exist. Families live in crisis mode for months and sometimes years before ever option can be expired and their child’s case can be brought before the ICT.
2. ICT enters the picture when it can be proven that everything we have in our state has been thrown at them and they’ve failed.
3.To keep these children in Delaware, we need to develop or attract private placement providers. We need a residential facility that is equipped to handle the most severe of our children. Remember, some of these children could still be served educationally. It is their emotional, mental, and behavioral health when combined with a neurological disability that we lack the ability to treat effectively.

Joanne Christian, on July 14, 2014 at 11:44 pm said:
OK, back to discuss. These 32 students are of some of the greatest needs across all sprectrums–or singularily represent a major sensory deficit (e.g. deaf) that AGREED upon WITH THE PARENTS is better served outside our 3 counties, and 30 by 100 mile state boundaries. It is a collaborative placement. I am willing to wager, we have sent 32 out of state, and no doubt there are another 32 who wish/pray/hope/beg the panel would decide such intensive care for their child, as to deliver a respite for the caregivers. It’s uncomfortable I know to admit, but it is true–and we need to step it up as to resource availability to these dire situations.
My point being about “out of state”–if you were living in Hemet, California and their team decided the best placement for your child was up in Oakland–it wouldn’t be “out of state”–but meanwhile 450 miles up or down the road here in Delaware, puts you in where? South Carolina or Vermont?
“Out of state” should only convey a limited available resource, primarily due to limited occurrence, not generating the critical mass necessary to populate and staff these highly specialized facilities. The whole distance and travel piece for some children IS going to be prohibitive of any regular visitation, all of which is taken into consideration of the placement. And remember, bottom line is….parents/guardians AGREE to that placement. Many placements leaving Delaware are within a 3 hour range. Visitation travel is often provided, but quite truthfully, many of these kids are so fragile, it is not part of the plan on the student’s end. Others–have come home every weekend. Each and every case is so decidedly different, and customized to the needs, and best practices and interest for the child–at a HUGE pricetag too–it just frosts me, that the decision makers (which includes parent/guardians too, remember) are somewhat dismissed as bureaucratic dog-catchers. It’s an ugly position to be in, but we also can’t have pop-up in-patient ILCs, and expect to be top of our game if demand and resource are not aligned.
And FWIW–it gave me great pleasure to meet a young woman back in the early 1980s in Rancho Mirage, California. She hunted me down, in my office, having heard that the new hire (me) was from Delaware.
She shared with me, that DELAWARE was her placement, sent from California, having saved her life, continued her schooling, rehab., etc..and just “lit up” of what the place still meant to her, and how grateful she and her parents were to have been sent there. She had hoped someday she could return for a visit……So, believe it or not–sometimes, our little state might just be the right placement for somebody else. Oh….18 months here, and I think it was twice her parents were flown in for a visit. She could not travel–was all air ambulance for arrival etc..

elizabeth, on July 15, 2014 at 9:05 am said:
Joanne, I am going to continue to disagree on this issue – we need to attract capacity to serve these children in our state.
You state ” no doubt there are another 32 who wish/pray/hope/beg the panel would decide such intensive care for their child.”
And you’ve proven my point. It’s not 32, it’s 64, 128, etc. The need is rising, ICT is the Gate Keeper. These 32 represent the cases that have actually made it to ICT. How many more are desperate for relief but stuck in a pipeline?
So why not develop a world class facility or network of facilities to serve these children? Aren’t we racing to the top? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to open a nursing home in Delaware? If we had the same stringent practices in place for our children that we purport for our elderly, we could control the quality of the resources we attract.
A couple years ago, I reconnected with an old friend. She had come to delaware for her son about the time mine was diagnosed. Though we had grown apart as our journeys took us different directions over the years, we happened to find each other at the same meeting years later. She confided in my just how hard her life had been here, how services were non-existent given the severity of her child’s disability, how she had prayed for years for his case to go before ICT and how relieved she had been when he was finally residentially placed.
Her greatest regret – she had agreed to the placement b/c she was desperate, even though it was three hours away and she had no personal transportation. She hadn’t seen her child since he was transported to his new home. She knew he was never coming back.
Imagine that happening 64 times over this year? and next? and the year after?
ICT is not the problem, the solution needs fixing.

Jon’s loving father, on July 15, 2014 at 9:25 am said:
Joanne, you keep stressing that the parents agree. This is the most likely scenario.
ICT: “We don’t have any more capacity in Delaware to serve your son”
Parent: “So Johnny can’t get help?” (crying inconsolably)
ICT: “Actually, we do have a place we contract with. It’s in Pennsylvania, not far from the border.”
Parent: “But I live in Harrington, that’s over an hour and a half away.”
ICT: “It’s really the best we can do. If a spot opens up in DE we will let you know.”
Parent: “What happens if we don’t do this?”
ICT: “Johnny came to this panel because of the fights, at home and at school. Left unchecked, he will be expelled. We know Johnny’s disability has become something any parent wouldn’t be able to handle. He needs help, and this is what we are able to offer at this time.”
Parent: “But it’s so far away, what if he needs me? He isn’t always like this.”
ICT: “We understand. But you can visit anytime you want. And we will pay for transportation. This is really what’s best for Johnny. He needs help, and we want to get him the very best care that’s out there for him right now.”
Parent: “I guess I don’t have much of a choice. Will it be permanent?”
ICT: “We don’t think so. We believe, with proper care, counseling and treatment, Johnny will be back in public school in a matter of time.”
In this scenario, the parent’s options are very limited. It’s a matter of choosing between horrible choices. I wouldn’t say all parents agree in a situation like this. It’s like any choice made between bad options while also in a very emotional vulnerable state. Never a good environment for this scenario.

elizabeth, on July 15, 2014 at 10:34 am said:
OMG – that’s pretty much the way the conversation has been summerized to me by a couple different families. Take a look at Lou – he’s DOE’s fictionalized character – a profile of ICT users –
http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2014/07/whos-lou-ict-dialogue-is-rolling-at.html
If Lou was your kid and these were the options presented to you, what would you say?

Jon’s loving father, on July 15, 2014 at 11:29 am said:
I was guessing, but under the guise of what I have read in these reports (all of them that are available on the DOE website), and what I know of special education in Delaware. I am of the firm belief that many of these situations could have been prevented years earlier. Child Find in Delaware is horrible, especially at the charter school level. Just look at the school profiles and see how many charters have NO complex level students. 9 of them! Talk about charter school enrollment preference! Lou was my son a couple years ago. But guess what, he wasn’t getting the special education he needed and his behavior was a direct result of the school’s ignorance. Once he received those services (at a different school), his behavior completely changed for the better and he did better at school. Granted, he is not a complex student, but the way the system was at his previous school, he could have been eventually. Thank God we made the right choice and got him the hell out of there.

The conversation about this issue continues, and I have read through these reports. There are some shocking statistics, especially once need based funding was introduced in 2010. I will be doing an article on this that will come out in the next few days, unless Kilroy or Elizabeth beat me to the punch!

To Kill A Mockingbird: The Art Of Prejudice In Delaware #netde #edude #fb

It’s time for a change. Let’s make it happen Delaware!

Exceptional Delaware 2017

One of my favorite movies of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. Way before I was involved in matters with special education, I found this movie to be a true picture of society. Even now. Everyone assumes the African-American special needs man was the one to commit a murder. People called this person different names back then, but political correctness has changed the label, but not the stereotypes.

I look at what is going on in Wilmington, with the school to prison pipeline. Way too many of our youth are exposed to violent crimes, and many of them feel there is now way out. When did we allow this to happen? How many of these students may have special needs that have never been identified or diagnosed? Who is to blame? The schools? The parents? The students? Maybe it is a combination of all three. We seem to have…

View original post 417 more words

To Kill A Mockingbird: The Art Of Prejudice In Delaware

One of my favorite movies of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. Way before I was involved in matters with special education, I found this movie to be a true picture of society. Even now. Everyone assumes the African-American special needs man was the one to commit a murder. People called this person different names back then, but political correctness has changed the label, but not the stereotypes.

I look at what is going on in Wilmington, with the school to prison pipeline. Way too many of our youth are exposed to violent crimes, and many of them feel there is now way out. When did we allow this to happen? How many of these students may have special needs that have never been identified or diagnosed? Who is to blame? The schools? The parents? The students? Maybe it is a combination of all three. We seem to have forgotten about the spirit of the civil rights movement. Prejudice has taken on a new form in the 21st century. It’s no longer about the Ku Klux Klan running around burning crosses and lynching black people. It’s about placement and segregation.

All of the schools in Wilmington are divided into two types: the haves and the havenots. The Charter School of Wilmington is a shining example of the haves. Only the best and brightest get into this school. But the selection process is flawed. The fact that only a couple handfuls of African-Americans graduated this year is a clear sign of that. The fact that the school as a whole only has .6% of special needs students is another. I refuse to believe that the school only looks at the best and the brightest. I truly believe they handpick who they want and who they don’t want.

Boo had to find out the hard way how society views him. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he paid a heavy price. His best friend in the world was a girl named Scout, and even all of her hard work, supporting him and befriending him came at a price. We need more Scouts in the world. We need our state government to take a very hard look at what is going on in Wilmington. It is considered one of the most violent cities in the country. Where is our state pride? This is a stain on our state that can’t just be washed away with a simple swipe of a brush. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. So while our government celebrates the impending release of Smarter Balanced Testing and the great reform of our schools in the race to the top, let’s be mindful that this only means so much as how our state is viewed. And with Wilmington as the largest city in our state being one of the most violent, it doesn’t matter how great the government thinks our best schools are when we can’t take care of the ones that need it most.

 

If we spent as much time building up the charters in that area as we did on cleaning up Wilmington, we could do wonders.  Instead we allow these schools to cherry pick who they want and don’t want.  Stop the segregation, stop the hurt, stop these people from thinking they are not productive members of society.  Stop sending a message of intolerance and shame.

The Eagles Wings Ministries and Pizza Google Search

So I wanted to find out what the fascination is with Eagles Wings Ministries and pizza, so I did a Google search, and found a lot of local pizza places send pizza to EWM.  Included are: Tony’s Sausage House, Capitol Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, Four Season’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and Little Caesar’s Pizza.  If you took all that pizza, and offered it to me for my forgiveness for Stacie Bohannon’s assault on my son, I still wouldn’t take it.  I know the Bible says to forgive, but usually an offending adult would need to take responsibility for their actions.  Especially for the forgiveness part to even begin.  So until Stacie Bohannon and Eagles Wings Ministries apologizes for their actions against my son, I may have to find out all I can about EWM and post something everyday!

To my regular readers, I will still post stories about special education in Delaware.  This is sort of related as this church was advised of my son’s disabilities and still chose to treat him in an unspeakable way. I really wouldn’t mind a resolution or legislation being passed that would indicate that anyone who works with children in any capacity needs to follow the child’s IEP. I think Delaware could use that. Maybe that would prevent these types of things from happening. In the meantime, I have more pictures that are food related at this church. It sounds like a lot of their advertising for child services relates to food. It reminds me of that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the guy lures the children into his van with sweets.

10339547_807363585941036_8133976632147240937_n

391561_464720933538638_2049562633_n

Eagles Wings Ministries started their Bible School this week….Parents Beware!

Especially if Stacie Bohannon is involved.  When I went to drop in that night to see my son I thought something seemed a bit off.  The way she was wanting the children to take notes on her bible scripture seemed like it was more for her than them.  To find out what Stacie Bohannon did to my son, you can either read it here: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/disability-discrimination-local-church-youth-leader-assaults-my-son/#comments and if you are an ex member of the church, please let me know of any other times an adult there has grabbed, kicked and pushed a child with disabilities.

I haven’t heard a peep about it since then.  I have checked their Facebook page, and saw their vacation bible school started this week.  I think I would rather chew glass than have my child attend that event!  Their website shows the Sunday school teachers.  Thank God Stacie Bohannon isn’t one of them.  But then again, who knows what some of the other adults are like at this church.  In any event, it really makes me wonder about this church.  They are a part of the Delmarva Church of God.  My wife left DCOG a message last Friday and hasn’t heard from them either.  The way the pastor wouldn’t tell me the youth group leader’s name sounded like there was something to hide.  Same thing with my son’s ex-friend’s mother.  Is there more to Stacie Bohannon than meets the eye?  Her very public Facebook page has some wonderful pictures and comments regarding something it took her 13 years to get.  I know it seems like I’m giving her a hard time.  I am.  She physically assaulted my son.  Legally, I guess you could say she offensively touched by son, if she was found guilty of that.  But the state police refused to do anything because, as Stacie Bohannon yelled at my wife, “He’s lying!”.  I do know one thing.  I would never go there for pizza.  My son said they got two pizzas for the youth group that night.  The youth group leader got three slices of pepperoni pizza.  And another adult there got some too.  Want to know what they did for all the children?  They cut each piece of pizza into four more slices and told each child they could only get one piece.  Maybe they were thinking more kids would come, cause there weren’t that many kids, and that’s a lot of leftover pizza.  Maybe they had a chowdown after my son’s beatdown.  As long as the adults had more pizza later, that’s okay.

As per their Facebook page, this is their motto: “Our banners are FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE. We exist to serve God and others through a heart of compassion, service, and humility.”  So let’s go through these, cause I can relate.

A heart of compassion: yes, I have seen their light.  When a child pushes the leader’s son off of him after he jumped on him, let’s be compassionate about how pissed off we are and grab, kick and push the kid down!

Service: Why yes, I see this as well!  Let’s serve our community by alienating any new members and parents.  We felt so welcome to your church.  We would want to come to a Sunday service just right about the time hell freezes over folks!

Humility: I see this most of all, cause my son sure felt humiliated after a few hours at your church.  And after he told us, he got very upset about this happening to him, and he questioned why he had to go through stuff like this with his disabilities.  You remember those, cause my wife told you about them a couple weeks prior.

I know one youth group leader’s mottos seems to be pepperoni pizza, kicking kids who are less than 1/3rd her age, and hiding behind a youth group and pastor to protect her when the mother gets pissed off at her.  My wife asked to speak to her away from the children, but she used them as a shield for her overdramatic performance and denial of the events.  When my wife and son pulled up right before that, they both heard some kids saying “Uh-oh”, so I wonder how much prep time the kids got to support her story?Image

The blessed church above this sentence.  I hope hell didn’t freeze over…nope, just the winter.  Phew!

And from their facebook page, I can’t tell if those are supposed to be chains or chocolate donuts.  Keep them away from the pizza lover!  Or she might connect her foot with your child!

Image

Disability Discrimination: Local Church Youth Group Leader Assaults My Son

Being a parent of a child with a disability is a very tough thing.  Parents of “normal” kids don’t get it.  With my son having TS, ADHD, OCD, SPD, and other initial disorders, he has had a lot of friends.  The problem is most of the friends don’t stay as his friends.  They come and go like waves on a beach over the years.  He just wants to be accepted, like any child does.  He has a very forgiving heart, and he doesn’t hold a grudge for too long.  He has tried to tell people about his Tourette’s in the past, but it doesn’t usually go to well for him.  He has been bullied over it.  But even worse than kids are adults who refuse to understand that he is different.  A neighbor told us once that he is one of those children who will respond well to kindness and compassion.  Unfortunately he hasn’t had a lot of that in his ten short years on this world.  People don’t always get it and I believe some don’t even want to.  They don’t want to accept what is different.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe if they do that, then maybe they will see that we are all different in some way.

Sometimes, as a special needs parent, you want to bury your head in the sand and run away from it all.  The challenges at home are one thing, but to see it in schools, neighborhoods, churches, scouts, stores…it can be overwhelming.  You question if you are a good parent and your own self-worth can go down the drain pretty quick.  But then I will hear my son laughing, and it all goes away.  My wife and I can be very tough sometimes, and I think God gave us some thick skin so we can protect and advocate for our son as long as he needs us to.  For those who know who I am, this is a fact: I will not tolerate any discrimination against my son.  He is a boy.  A caring, kind-hearted boy.  That is who he is deep inside, the true him.  What you may see is a manifestation of his disabilities, and you may judge him by that cover.  Every book has a cover, but the heart of any book is what’s inside.  I would rather see my son have very few friends who accept him for who he is, than have several “friends” go in and out of his life.  The same is true for my family.  We have each other, and sometimes that has to be enough.

Last nigh, my son was told to “consider his ways” by a youth leader during a bible reading at a local church youth group.  This was his second time at this youth group, and my wife had advised them of his disabilities the first time he went.  An hour later, while playing tag, her son jumped on my son so he pushed him off, which is a normal reaction.  The youth leader came to my son, grabbed his arms, kicked the back of his leg, pushed him down and said “Now you see what it feels like”.

When we found out, my wife went down to the church to confront the youth leader.  She denied it and said he was lying.  All the other kids were involved in another activity, so no one else could have seen it.  Of course the whole group said nothing happened.  The youth leader refused to talk to my wife in private, and told her and my son they were no longer welcome at their church.  My wife said some not so nice words to her and left.  My wife was able to find the phone number for the pastor and left a message.  The pastor called back and denied anything happened, even though she wasn’t there.  After some back and forth, we called our state police.  An officer came out, took our statement, talked to my son, and we advised him we wanted to press charges against the youth leader.  He advised it wouldn’t be physical assault, it would be offensive touching.  He called later in the evening and said there were conflicting stories and he couldn’t do anything.  He said we could file a complaint with the justice of the peace.

What kind of world do we live in where an adult leader at a youth group can attack a child like that and the law doesn’t protect a boy with disabilities?  And where a pastor refuses to give the name of the youth leader?  I eventually found it Scooby-Doo style for the 21st Century by going through the church Facebook page, and going through likes and other people’s comments and then their friends and so on.  It truly is amazing what some people will put on Facebook for the world to see.  But I digress.  Once again, my son has been traumatized by a person in a leadership capacity.  When will this stop?  I know other parents go through this kind of crap.  We need to stand together.  Our children need us.  Because one day someone may tell your child to “Consider your ways” without looking at how evil their own are.

Obviously, no one in my family will EVER attend that church again, and we have never been happier to be “not welcome” there.  Because any church that would allow that type of thing to happen and then try to cover it up isn’t associated with the God I believe in.  They may be upset at how my wife reacted, however several parents have told me they would have done much worse than say some words in anger after their son had been physically assaulted.  I was a little miffed my wife lost her temper, but let’s be real.  I would have too!  Any parent would.  What they don’t know is something only I know.  If my son was lying, I would know it.  He does something, very subtle and unique when he lies.  He doesn’t even realize I know what it is, and I don’t believe he is even aware he does it.  And guess what he did not do when he told us what happened? That thing he does.  God bless my child, because his flock certainly won’t at a certain church in my area.  But guess what, he doesn’t need them.  What he has is more precious than any building or group of people.  He has a good heart. Consider your ways…