Susan's Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An IEP for Life

Why does all the support slow down and become suck city when a special needs person reaches 22? What’s magical about 22? Why not 32? Why not for as long as he is alive?

Oh, Welfare State, some of you are no doubt thinking. Crazy-liberal-Social Contract-Big Government types! Spend, spend, spend!

Yes, spend. Spend on social programs. Create supports so that people can get the help they need to live decent lives, so that they can fulfill their potential. We can only benefit from such a plan. And you know what else? Our government is big whether you know it or not. It just depends on what you want to be big. You may want a very large military operation. You may want highways maintained with government funds.

You may want every single person in the country to have an education, regardless of ability to pay. You may want to see every single person working, playing, and living as fruitfully and as healthily as they can, above all else.

I want that for Nat. The education that Nat is getting right now should extend into his adult life. I want to see the progress he has made continue. I want Nat to be able to work, because he clearly gets joy from being gainfully employed. I want him to continue to learn how to converse, and how to take care of himself by learning social skills, cooking, cleaning, medical self-care, community safety skills.

I have seen what the years and years of publicly-funded schooling has done for Nat. He has gone from being a child with almost no words, no play skills, no desire to interact with others, no ability to follow directions or to get what he needed, to someone who has all of that, and more. The more he is taught, the more he learns. He will not need to have constant care and attention in an institution, the way people did decades ago. He will not feel the need to explode with frustration because he has been taught how to express himself to others. He will form relationships and contribute to the general happiness around him.

These accomplishments have value, from financial to emotional to social to communal. Yes, it cost a lot to bring Nat to this point. But I think it was worth every cent. He took every bit of energy teachers devoted towards him and he pushed himself to learn, to compensate for his differences. And in turn, he has taught those around him a lot about different perception, about God, empathy, and unconditional love. Nat has returned society’s gifts in equal or better tender.

So, I’m sure, will all of your kids, if given the opportunity.

I want them all to have an IEP for life. I want it for them, and for Nat. I want to see what else Nat can do. I want him to experience the world unfolding, the wonder of understanding, the beauty of other minds, the joy of connecting and achieving. If he has staff around him as an adult the way he does as a teen — people who patiently and gently provide structure, modeling, prompting, praise, and repetition as needed — I can only imagine the strides he could make.

Isn’t that every bit as important as building a better highway system?



— added by Phil Schwarz on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Having a special needs kid swung me from right to left, politically. Funny how that happens.

— added by ASDmomNC on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 7:50 am

A liberal is a conservative who was mugged the night before.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:15 am

Not this liberal.
A liberal is also the designation of the Founding Fathers, as in Jefferson, Adams, et al. Were they mugged?

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:18 am

Amen Sista!

— added by Bonnie on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

anonymous, may I just say that in my very narrow view of politics, conservatives are usually just frightened nerds with a sheep mentality! Sorry, but that’s the way I see it, and this probably won’t get published and understandably so, but I just had to say it, no matter how dumb or irrational it sounds!

— added by Bonnie on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:59 am

Why does support slow down (or become non-existent in most states) after age 21 or 22? One word–MONEY–that’s why. Disgusting, but true. These kids are tossed aside and many of them are living at home with their aging parents. I really don’t know what’s going to happen when all of the younger kids become of age. The numbers will be even bigger and it will be a disaster for families.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

Oh, my. I’m not there yet, my daughter, especially, who recently had to attend a residential school is 13. I’m still not sure–at least until next year (so I’m told) of what comes after 22…

— added by Holly Nappi Collins on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I am the commenter who was the first anonymous and I am a screaming liberal and have been for my whole life (and I am old!).

My point was too few people want to help unless the issue directly helps them, ie bridges versus educational services, etc.

Learning should be life long and not suddenly end at age 22.

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Oh, I just jumped right down your throat, Anon… I shouldn’t do that, no matter what stripe you were!

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm

AMEN!!!Well said…and very true. I want to see the same progress that Nat has made in my son someday. Your posts give me such hope. Whatever it takes I’m for it. I’ll do my best to keep autism awareness alive, or any disablity for that matter.

— added by Candy on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Whoever stated above (Bonnie I think) that conservatives are frightened nerds with a sheep mentality is 100% SO RIGHT, and I live in south Alabama so I should know. What burns my biscuits is that the government always has plenty of money to start a war somewhere or give a blank check to whatever corporation wants it (all with taxpayer funds, of course) but give a free milk to an underprivileged child and I can hear them wailing already. Any public funds you spend for someone like Nat to continue learning and becoming (more) independent is money you get back ten fold. And that’s so obvious.

— added by Sharon L. on Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 9:53 am

This conservative says:

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Funny how life can change you, isn’t it?

— added by Judith U. on Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 9:58 am

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