I pray everyone is well and in good health. I know we are all so over the corona virus but I pray you and your family are in good spirits and pressing on. If you are new here please take the time out to review the resources available to you on the website. There is so much information that I’m sure will be helpful to you and your family. Alright fam, we are still in the midst of corona so time is of the essence, so let me get straight to it. I cannot stand lack of communication and an improper hand off. Let me explain. If you are not familiar with Jayson’s story please take the time out to review Jayson’s journey on our website or obtain your copy off Amazon of my book entitled “How the Small ‘a’ (autism) Taught me to PRAY Big.” Jayson was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years and 7 months of age. He is now 6 so you can imagine that I have been at this for a while.
Fighting for my kiddo!
When it comes to my children I hover on the line of being OCD and being overly meticulous. Nothing gets by me especially when it comes to their education. I cannot effectively advocate for my children if I do not pay particular attention to every detail. So when individuals who impact my children’s daily living don’t acknowledge my child’s needs we have a problem. Let me explain. Jayson’s virtual school schedule is jam packed. He meets with the special education teacher from 8:45 am – 1130 am. In addition to that he meets with the “specials” teachers (art, gym, music and library) weekly from 12-12:30. Every, yes every, teacher is aware of and has copies of Jayson’s IEP (individualized education program). So please tell me why these teachers do not assign homework assignments with the expectations outlined in the IEP? How are special education children who have difficulties with speech or writing able to submit homework assignments that require video submissions and or written text? I understand that teachers are very busy, BUT what accommodations or recognition is being given to children with IEPs? My frustration is not just for my son but also for the 5 other children in Jayson’s class who are also battling with deficits. If those children’s parents don’t speak up and I don’t speak up, who will advocate for these children? They will become another statistic. Just another child who society believes can’t learn so they won’t put the time and effort into trying to teach them. So long as I am alive, Jayson and every child I come in contact with who doesn’t have a voice to speak for themselves will not be ignored, will not be forgotten and will be given an opportunity to fulfill their God given purpose.
Jayson’s art project…he was so excited!
What’s the morale of this story?
Advocate advocate advocate! You are your child’s only voice. Below is a letter I sent to our county executive, councilman etc. I did get responses and a call back from the superintendent office on plans they are trying to put in place with the Board of Education and let me tell me, I was very grateful! It is nice when you advocate for change and actually start seeing steps towards something positive. With the school board’s meeting last week, there were discussions about possibly having the K, 1st and 2nd graders return to school. I pray the grace of our Lord rests upon them as they make such important decisions that will affect our kiddos, for the good or the bad. The primary aim for me and you all as well should be to make sure that when something doesn’t seem right, speak up. Sometimes it’s as simple as a reminder and other times it requires a re-education and in this case, I felt like our government officials needed to mix their thoughts with that of the Board of Education. You may come off rude especially to those in authority who should know better but again you are your child’s voice. Stay strong family. We are in this together. Leave a comment below and tell me about a time you had to advocate for your child. Stay blessed, safe and remember to keep washing your hands.
From my heart to yours,
To Mr. J. Olszewski,
My name is M.J. Wotany. I am a single mother, an author, a respite care provider and the owner of SEG Center. SEG Center is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to support families with spiritual and educational tools needed to venture through autism together as ONE Center, ONE Family, and ONE body in CHRIST. I am writing to you on behalf of my son, Jayson, and other autistic children and caregivers who cannot speak for themselves. Prior to the covid pandemic Jayson attended Chadwick Elementary School where he spent half of his day at regular education and the remainder of his day in special education. As part of his IEP (individualized education program) plan, Jayson was assigned a one-on-one provider who was there to facilitate his learning experiences and ensure Jayson was not doing anything harmful to himself or others. After school Jayson received speech therapy, occupational therapy through ABA (applied behavior analysis) services at home. In one day, Jayson went from consistent rehabilitative services by trained healthcare professionals to ME. In an instance I became his regular education teacher, his special education teacher, his speech therapist, his occupational therapist, his ABA provider and oh yes his mom. If you are wondering if I am trained in any of these professions, I am not. I have a master’s in healthcare administration. Since my son’s diagnosis I have sacrificed everything to ensure that Jayson receives the best services possible. I have also made it my mission to advocate not only for my son but for other autistic children and their caregivers as we maneuver through this complex journey of autism.
I am well aware that in the midst of the pandemic there are constantly changing variables. As of the writing of this letter Baltimore County Schools have opted for virtual schools for all students. The question I have is what accommodations can be made for special education children? Studies have shown that early rehabilitative services by trained healthcare professionals can determine whether a child lives a productive life or remain debilitated throughout their lives. I am pleading with you, help my son and all other autistic children in this county. Yes, moms are superheroes, we can do all things, but I can’t perform, to the degree which is required, the rehabilitative services my son needs, facilitate him and my daughter’s schooling, be a single mom and hold a full time job. Below are some suggestions that I pray you sincerely consider.
- Full day in person special education with a maximum classroom size of 10 students
- Half day in person special education with a maximum classroom size of 10 students
- In home one-on-one facilitators for those that are agreement specifically for speech and occupational services and
- If the one-on-one is in agreement, her services should be PAID to come into the home and be the one to facilitate his online learning program.
Everyone needs to realize that these kiddos look at us moms, grandmothers or caregivers as their safety net, therefore how can they concentrate during online sessions or have that same focus as they would if they were in school when we are not there. If accommodations can be made, so that Jayson can keep the only familiar face he remembers from his previous school that would be very much appreciated. I can’t begin to think of how these aids can wait around for 6 months with no jobs and when schools resume you expect to still have dependable working staff for these kids that are all about consistency, structure, routines and more importantly familiarity.
I am begging you, please consider helping those who don’t have a voice to cry out for help for themselves. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please find above my contact information. I look forward to hearing from you.
CC: Tom Quirk, Sheila S. Ruth, Patrick G. Young, Jr. and Charles E. Sydnor III