Just read a great article called “Met Schools Redefining Special Education Amongst Children with Autism” that discusses private schools in New York whose curricula are developed based upon and dedicated to the individual learning needs of children on the autism spectrum. The article points to the importance of bahavioral analysis as critical to this process in assessing and developing an appropriate educational path for any individual diagnosed anywhere on the spectrum. Unfortunately, our current situation (national and local) is such that we do not have enough teachers and specialists prepared with the training and background necessary to meet these individual needs and advance ALL of our children who do not excel in a typical classroom.
KUDOS to the Met schools in New York!
However, not until we, collectively as a nation, determine to make this type of private education accessible to all will we advance all children to reach their maximum potential. That, after all, is pretty much what any parent wants for their children. Our federal laws guarantee the right of all individuals a quality education, but as a nation, we struggle to meet this obligation. When we do not, we damn those we fail to a lifetime of dependence that we, as taxpayers, will support.
So, if you do not care on a personal and moral level, perhaps you might notice the punch from these lifetime costs of services of one individual on the spectrum who could draw between $3 and $5 million (YEP~That’s MILLIONS, folks!). By intervening early enough and providing access to quality education options to these children and their families, the lifetime costs of care can be reduced by as much as two-thirds. Now do you care?!
Options to consider that would increase access to appropriate quality education in Missouri are such things as charter school expansion, open enrollment, teacher development and scholarship tax credits, to name a few.
So until we reach the point that we can and do meet the individual needs of all (something we work toward daily here at CEAM), the odds of success favor those parents who learn their rights and responsibilities and learn how to become fierce advocates for their child. As noted in the article referenced above, that parent who advocates the most, will get the most for their child. PERIOD.
[Author’s note: please see our innovative new program, launching in spring 2011: the financial assistance and parent training program; this program will provide direct access to St. Louis area children who are not excelling in their current educational environment and will offer parent trainings to any Missouri parent seeking to become the parent advocate they need to be.]