First, thank you. For the support and the suggestions, all of which we've been contemplating. We do want to have another IEP meeting as soon as possible----we know we have to get Charlie into some other setting.I was undone by my emotions. The result of the meeting was the request for an out-of-district placement and a Functional Behavioral Assessment by an independent evaluator to revise Charlie's Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) (which specifies the use of a helmet); the Supervisor of Special Education initially said that there was no need to revise Charlie's IEP (and therefore the BIP, which is part of it) prior to his going to a new placement, and that this would be done after he was in the new placement.
Her words invoked precisely the reason that we had said no (as the Supervisor of Special Education pointed out) to placement at this particular center. It is quite large; for this reason, we had again sought admittance for Charlie into a much smaller, private autism school. He was rejected from all of these and so the center is the only option. And once Charlie is out of a local public school in our town---where he is seen by other students and members of the community---it's not unlikely that he'll be out of sight and out of mind. Certainly, I would rather think, from the point of view of the special education administration in our town. Charlie at a large autism center means that they'll be a whole new bureaucracy to wade through.
And it means that Charlie will be removed from the community. Ensuring that Charlie can be out and about in so many places has been a key part of Jim's and my advocacy for him. We'll still keep taking Charlie places---if anything, Charlie going to this new center means that we'll be doing everything we can to make sure that he sees as much of the world as he might, and that the world sees him.
It's a truism. But it really takes a village, an entire community, to raise a child like Charlie. We'd be the last people to deny the extend of his needs and the fact that sometimes, things are really, really tough; really beyond difficult. (Though dealing with Charlie's toughest moments is preferable to IEP contention with school district staff, what can I say.) But it really takes everybody opening up their hearts and minds to see Charlie as he is---not the potentially violent kid who's kept contained in a helmet and "three-man protective holds"----but as Charlie, as 12-year-old kid who tries his best and aims to please and who makes our world brighter and more beautiful every single day.
The village that is our town has failed Charlie and, once again, we feel that all we can do is hang onto Charlie and get him out as quickly as we can.
And we all know who the biggest loser is.
The photo is of Charlie at the town library Wednesday night during Jim's talk about his new book, On the Irish Waterfront.