Justin was judged and treated poorly at school and denied special education services as early as four years old. I fought the best way I knew how but was never successful with getting the school district to understand Justin’s needs. The school site administrators at the SST meetings would make me feel like it was my fault he had problems and that it wasn’t their responsibility to help with Justin’s inability to be successful with his education. For years my husband and I watched Justin’s self-esteem sink lower and lower which caused him to have a negative attitude and bad behavior. It got worse every year until he finally broke down in 6th grade. Because of his break down, at the end of his 6th grade year we were finally able to get him a 504 plan. Even though he had the diagnosis of ADHD and Tourettes Syndrome, the district still denied him eligibility for an IEP. We found new doctors and finally got some answers; Justin was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.
After receiving the Aspergers diagnosis, things changed a little with the school in junior high but he still wasn’t getting the help he needed. I made sure to have annual 504 meetings but Justin was still struggling. 9th grade started out great but his grades quickly began to decline. We then started having problems with some of the teachers because they refused to help him and made Justin feel like he was choosing to get bad grades. The 504 document never held the teachers accountable by documenting that it was their responsibility to provide accommodations. Instead, they would write that Justin had to do all the work. One teacher even treated him poorly and embarrassed him in class.
Due to the stress he felt, Justin would throw up every day before school and have melt downs almost every night. I felt like such a failure as a parent because no matter how many meetings we had we never saw any changes being made. One day, as I sat crying in anticipation of another meeting, I decided to search for help. I called the first person I found and was embarrassed as I cried during the conversation. The woman told me that even if I didn’t hire her I needed to get help, especially since my son was already in high school. I talked to my husband that night and told him about this woman named Valerie and how she was so compassionate and helpful. We decided to hire her immediately and it was the best decision we could have made! She made such a positive difference at the very first meeting!
Now I cry tears of joy because I know we couldn’t go through the IEP process without her. We still have a few years of high school left but I know we will win with Valerie advocating for our son.
Since hiring Valerie Justin now has an IEP. He goes to school with a better attitude everyday because he finally has the support he needs. Valerie knew how to ask for assessment and show evidence of why Justin should receive accommodations and services. Now he has a 3.5 GPA. He even has less melt downs at home because he has less stress at school. After being denied Speech services and going through the appeal process, we now have been successful in receiving a private Speech and Language social skills group and pragmatic intervention because of Valerie and her expertise. It was a big financial decision for us to hire her but we look at it as an investment in our son’s future. Valerie is worth every penny!
Leah, Inland Empire