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Thursday, January 25, 2018

With A Special-Needs Child, There's A Lot Of "If"

This morning, I started my day with my son's yearly IEP meeting. For those of you with not-special-needs kids, that stands for Individualized Education Plan. Once a year, David's father and I meet with his teachers and therapists to discuss his progress, his challenges, and the support services he will be receiving to help him succeed and meet defined progress goals.

We used to do this without David, but since he turned 13, he's now required to be a part of them, though it mostly seems to swirl around him in a jumble of words. He knows he's doing good, he knows he needs to work a little harder at some things. But this year, we added a new element: life after high school.

David starts high school this fall. Holy cow. David starts high school this fall.

He's eyeing the culinary vo-tech program, and of course, he wants to continue to sing in chorus. And they outlined a whole slew of programs he can utilize to help him enter the job force and live a possibly semi-independent life after high school. 


Every year, that's the word, and it's the word that can mean a major difference to kids like David and to parents like us.

"If the programs maintain their funding . . ."

You see, there's never a guarantee of that. If that state decides to reduce or outright eliminate some of these programs, David may not have that level of support, or possibly even may not have that support at all. There's a constant state of fluctuation from year to year. Whether or not the state funds these programs depends on how much money the state has for these programs, many of which are funded by federal grants to the state. It rolls down from the top, and in the current administration, with the current Secretary of Education who is confused about the laws protecting the disabled in America, determined to slash funding to public schools and making drastic changes to proven guidance in the matters of disabled children, things aren't looking too positive for a lot of these programs.

You'll forgive me if I'm holding my breath, and will continue to hold it, at least until the next election. Even after that, I still get to hold my breath, as always, but possibly a little more hopefully. 

No matter what, my son's father and I will do our best to help him live a happy, well-balanced, responsible and productive life. But we won't be around forever, and we need to be sure that we and his teachers are doing all we can to ensure that.

I just wish we could ensure it without the word "if" for a change.

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