Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Next Phase

The struggles to ensure a future for our children with disabilities never ends, does it? First we have the school battles, fighting for the things we know our children will need to succeed in the future. Be it a special reading program, instruction in how to travel with a cane, or extra school time – it often seems that we have to fight for everything.

Then there are the medical issues we face. The search for a diagnosis and proper treatment. Sometime we get lucky and find doctors who share our commitment to children with disabilities, but more often than not, we endure long waits, doctors who don’t ‘get it’, and other medical staff who act like we and our children are a nuisance.

And I would be remiss if I left out the struggles for community acceptance, finding a church home, and all things surrounding physical accessibility.

I am now, however, moving into a new realm of struggles – the fight to ensure my Jessica can find a job that she likes and which she feels is something she wants to do with her life.

I had sincerely hoped that the school system would do an adequate job of preparing Jessica for employment. IDEIA says they have to. Well, I don’t know about you, but that hasn’t happened yet. The school has worked on things like cooking, doing laundry, and hanging up clothing. But what about filling out a job application, showing up for work on time, getting along with co-workers, and specific skills that Jessica would need to find a job?

I knew I couldn’t count on the school system to completely prepare Jessica, but I had an ace in my pocket, or so I thought. Our state has an agency called the Department for Rehabilitative Services. Their published mission is to help people with disabilities find employment.

Since our last two meetings with that agency involved me taking an attorney with us to the meeting, you can imagine how well that is going.

I won’t go into too many details yet, but this agency that is supposed to help Jessica seems to grossly underestimate her abilities, and in fact, will only speak to me when Jess is in the room.

I’m going to keep trying. I’m calling for an IEP meeting and inviting the DRS staff. My hope is that the two organizations will work together for the common goal of preparing Jessica for employment.

Shall we start taking bets now on how well that will go?


Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

Don't hold your breah, my dear. Don't hold your breath.

I was just thinking today, as I walked out of the Blue Jay's IPP meeting, you can know the law inside out, you can know who is suppose to do what but ... making something meaningful happen for your child can still seem like an imposssibility.

Sue said...

I am so sorry to hear that you are finding it so hard to push through with this phase of challenges.
This generation of young people are paving the way for the ones that will follow but what a terrible cost parents are having to pay, both financially and emotionally, to push through this inclusion barrier.
As a teacher I know how difficult it is to ensure rights at school. I can't even begin to imagine the frustration you must be feeling but my heart goes out to you.
Thanks for the post. It is a good reminder to me to keep the big picture in mind no matter what age my students are.
I think some of my parents might appreciate a 'care call' too.
I hope that tomorrow is better. Will be thinking of you.