I hate privacy laws. The purpose is to keep people safe I suppose, but they do not work that way for my two kids. Privacy laws keep schools from telling people about my kids’ disabilities. A substitute teacher is not supposed to be told a student has autism. How can that possibly work in the student’s best interest? In an emergency the adult in charge, would assume the student had age appropriate skills to cope. At the very least, the child does not learn as much on the days there is a sub if the sub does not know there is a challenge of some kind for that child.
|Tate in Kindergarten|
I did not know this when Tate began school. I assumed all adults who came in contact with Tate, in any capacity, would be informed of his disability and educated a little about autism. That is not how it works due to privacy laws. Only the teachers working directly with Tate or Sydney are supposed to be told about their diagnosis and behavior issues. I had to tell my kids’ librarians, music teachers, P.E. teachers, art teachers, and secretaries about their disabilities myself. I even stopped the janitors at Sydney’s school and explained what her disability was and asked them to step in if they saw her behaving in an inappropriate way.
|Sydney and Tate|
This year, I insisted both my kids’ IEPs state that substitute teachers have to be told about my kids’ special needs. It became very important to me after walking into a P.E. class when Tate was in third grade. He was crying, rocking and stimming while his classmates were playing a sort of dodge-ball game. It was chaos. At the front of the room was a substitute teacher who had not been told Tate had a disability. At that point, Tate did not have a support person with him in P.E. either. I was still fighting that battle. I could write volumes about the power struggle that went on over para support, and I probably will (but not today.) It is not quite as urgent that a sub be told about Tate’s disability if he has para support with him. However, I would still like every adult who has any part of educating (or keeping Tate and Sydney safe) to understand there is a language delay and behavior issues that need to be considered.
We live in a very small town and don’t plan to move in the near future. The more people in town who know about Tate and Sydney and their special needs, the more people I will have watching and helping to keep them safe. They are less likely to be bullied by peers, if the peers and their parents, understand my kids have a disability, as well.
I have asked that Tate’s classmates be educated about autism and the schools have been really cooperative in giving Tate’s classmates age-appropriate information each year. I wish there was a way to share information with Sydney’s classmates about her disability as well but how do you explain alcohol consumption during pregnancy to seven year olds? For now, Sydney knows she is adopted. She knows what that means. She knows what her pills are for and what they do and she knows she feels better and is able to think clearly when she takes her medicine. When the time is right, we will explain to Sydney what ADHD is and what Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is. How fair would it be to keep it from her?
This is a post explaining how I educate Tate's classmates about autism and how helpful it has been: What is Autism? or Why Does Tate Act That Way?
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