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APS needs a clear plan for vulnerable kids


As the parent of a special needs child you get used to making difficult decisions. It never gets easier, but you develop an emotional callus that allows you to look at all the information and decide what action is in the best interest of your child.

My son is now 13 years old, so I have a lot of experience researching information about medical issues, therapies and treatments. I’ve devoted hours to gathering facts to help me decide the best course of action to benefit my child. He has had more therapies and tests than I can list. I’ve traveled across the country with him for diagnostic testing and medical treatments. I’ve never made a decision about his care lightly.

With this in mind, you can imagine my dismay when I was told this morning that I have to make the decision whether or not to send my child back to school almost immediately. If given a clear and comprehensive plan of how APS intends to keep the most vulnerable students and staff safe, I would be able to make the call despite the short notice. …

Not only do I not know what safety measures APS intends to implement in classrooms, I don’t even know where my son would be attending school. We have been provided exceedingly sparse information about what going back to school will look like and where it would be. At this point, half-days at school would be wonderfully beneficial to these kids. Nathan misses his teacher, Ms. Maggie. The only time he perks up during the videos is when he hears her voice. He smiles and looks for her. She is a devoted teacher, and I’m sure she misses them, too.

If APS would list the physical precautions it is utilizing and assure me that my son and his friends would return to his classroom with his teacher and EAs whom he knows and loves, I wouldn’t hesitate to let him return. I know they would do anything in their power to keep him safe and help get him back to his routine. Nathan loves school. He loves riding the bus and playing with his classmates. He desperately needs to return to school; he cannot pay attention to a video screen for more than a few minutes at a time. It takes constant redirection to bring him back to the task at hand. It takes months and years of repetition for him to learn and retain tasks. But he does learn when in a familiar and supportive environment. …

All too often it feels like parents of special needs children have to fight for what is best for them. We have to fight to get accommodation. We have to push to get them the therapies they need. We have to push for more time with therapists, then we have to fight to keep what time our children are given. We even had to fight to get a certified teacher for his class.

Special needs kids are constantly being forced aside. I am tired of feeling like I have to battle the APS bureaucracy to secure the services my child deserves and is legally entitled to. Because he does deserve them, no matter the cost, as do his peers. …

There is no way I’m putting my child’s well-being in the hands of APS when it can’t even give us basic details of the reentry plan. If I didn’t know better I’d suspect APS is hoping to discourage us from sending our special needs kids back into the system.

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