Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doesn't Add Up

According to my son’s school district, once you have autism, that’s it: you only get one diagnosis. Any other problems you might have will just have to stand under that umbrella with you in the rainstorm. And if you have dyslexia or dyscalculia? They will not diagnose those at all, but you are welcome to drop a few grand on a specialist to do the evaluation and send it to the district for consideration. But if you have autism AND dyslexia or dyscalculia? Well, go ahead and go to that expert with your mortgage payment, and the district might add something about that in the comment section on page 26 of your IEP.

As you might have guessed, my nine-year-old boy has autism AND a learning disability -- dyscalculia. We have known this for years. You could spend five minutes with him and figure it out, if you yourself got past the third grade. We’ve clamored for documentation. We’ve spent years in private educational therapy. We pay our therapist a fortune not just to teach our boy math, but to then go to the schools to teach our son’s teachers to teach our boy math. We want it in his IEP that he has dyscalculia so that each fall we don’t waste for first month or two re-establishing and wasting precious time. How could we get this documentation? At the last IEP we were told, “Request a district psych eval.” And we did.

Finally, this past week the school psych read her tome to us for 35 minutes. It said: your son has autism. “Any questions?” I had one: where does it mention his math disability? Then I learned what you now know. The district is comprised of a blind people groping only at disparate parts of elephants. They feel social awkwardness and shout: Autism! They come upon knotty verbal pragmatics and scream: autism! Can’t add, subtract, multiply, divide, or COUNT? AUTISM!

But, no, my son is not a math equation whose sum total is autism. It’s just one factor. Another factor? Dyscalculia. Know what other factor he has? Infinite creativity. Vocabulary to the millionth power. Potential cubed.  He deserves to have specialized support for his math disability based on what works for how he learns. And yes it’s challenging and expensive, but he’s a good investment.

I had another question. There quite a crowd of us in the room. I’ve been in education for almost two decades, and we had the teacher, resource teacher, AP, OT, BID, ed therapist, and my husband. “Who here would go on record saying you believe my son does NOT have a math disability?”

Everyone looked at their feet. No one spoke.

“That,” I said, “is because we all know he has a math disability. And I want it documented. And I want supports in place that specifically address it. And if you won’t document it, I will pay a reputable expert who certainly will, and then I will bring you the bill and ask for reimbursement, but that is a waste of time and money. I know he has dyscalculia, you know he has it, and he has a right to the proper services. Put that in the IEP.”

If they do, I will sign it.
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Rooster's Mom is a parent, educator, wife, mom, and writer. She blogs at roostercalls.blogspot.com.


  1. Wow. I can't even imagine - what good does an IEP do if it doesn't have all the information on it?? Good for you for standing up. I don't think our state is like that, but if it is, I'll be the first school psych to stand up and scream, once I start in the fall....

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