By Valle Dwight
Tara Kennedy-Kline’s 10-year-old son was recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and given an IEP. The diagnosis came after years of “behavior issues” in the classroom, particularly when it came to transitions or his insistence on things staying exactly the same every day (if a child sat in the “wrong” spot, for instance, her son would act out).
In first grade he was put on a student support program for his behavioral issues, he was working with an OT assigned by the school district, he was in a special program with the guidance counselor and his parents went to quarterly "learning intervention team" meetings with the school psychologist, principal and other support staff.
“Even so, Alex served several in school suspensions for behaviors directly related to his "issues". He was also threatened with being held back because his grades were so poor due to refusal to cooperate in class. (his IQ is above 140),” said Kennedy-Kline.
“Everyday, literally every day it was something,” she said. This year they had him transferred to a school with an autism support program. During the first week in the new school, he was shocked to find that kids “get recess here.” What his parents didn't know was that for an entire school year, he had been denied recess so often that he thought recess stopped in third grade.
"People would tell me that if he had an IEP, he'd have protection from punishment, but I didn't know what his rights were," said Kennedy-Kline.
The confusion about discipline and special education goes back more than a decade.
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