Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Personal Impact: Kids With Special Needs

It is sometimes hard for those whose children enjoy full health to understand how difficult it is for parents with special needs children; to have your parenting constantly evaluated and scrutinized by professionals and experts. The politics of dealing with school administrators and advocating for your child can be very difficult. This Millard mother has written her family's personal story but prefers her family's identity to remain anonymous.

I have three children, two of whom are either disabled or sick. My oldest daughter, 11, has Asperger’s Syndrome. She was diagnosed last year after a battery of tests performed by an experienced psychologist in Lincoln (we live in Omaha). She also completed an intense vision therapy program and continues to have an on-going occupational therapy program. Due to all those appointments, plus a few small sicknesses, we hit the 20 day mark sometime in April 2011. The social worker gathered all my data and the county attorney declined to prosecute.

Fast forward to this year. This same daughter missed two full weeks of school in September after pneumonia was diagnosed later than it should have been. She then missed another week because she caught influenza (and yes, she had been vaccinated). Now, on top of her weekly occupational therapy appointments—only 1.5 hours missed per week—her immune system is weak and she is catching every little virus she comes across. We are now at 23 days absence.

In addition, my second daughter, who is 9, had been diagnosed with IBS, anxiety disorder, and, as of yesterday, vestibular migraines. She also missed a full week of school with a kidney infection. So now we’re somewhere around day 18 for her.

We have clearly had an unusal fall as far as attendance goes. And I have documented every sickness by going to the doctor and wasting their time and my insurance co-pay so I can get a note even though I know we have a migraine situation occurring. Or my oldest has a 100.5 fever. Or the middle one hasn’t been able to poop for two days and needs to take a load of Miralax.

In light of all this, our school social worker, who has been exceedingly supportive and helpful with us, told me this week she is concerned that the county attorney will only see that I have one child who was “on the list” both last year and this year and another child who is joining her. It doesn’t matter that they both are excelling in school. It also doesn’t matter that my kindergarten-aged son has attended every school day but one. (Because I’m going to drive him 15 minutes to school each day and let the others be truant? Really?)

I asked if I should get an attorney at this point. The social worker said that the first round is basically herding the parents into the courtroom and having the judge “read the riot act” to them. Hmmm…let me think about that…NO WAY am I going to be berated by someone for following the school’s handbook and keeping my kids out of school when necessary. I’m so frustrated.

So I’m holding on to the rollercoaster as it nears its apex. Bring it on.


  1. Then there are some families that should be prossecuted, that aren't

  2. Shocking!! You mean there are people who get away with irresponsible and even criminal behavior in our society?!! You mean we don't have ZERO crime, ZERO Failure, ZERO foolishness?

    Excuse my sarcasm... BUT if we used your standard of success in the legal systems of our state we could have no hope of success without a total loss of freedom!!

    Stamping out 100% of truant behavior or any delinquent or criminal behavior is only possible when the government takes away an extraordinary amount of freedom. It is a very fascist argument, if only the government could have oversight in all cases we could eliminate crime, certainly with enough fear in the citizenry you can get fantastic results. American law has been based on a fundamental idea that it is better that ten guilty go free than for one innocent to suffer. The law must protect the innocent even at the expense of eliminating all crime. This law does not adequately protect the innocent or the basic principles of American law.

  3. This story perfectly exemplifies a scenario caused by Nebraska's new
    "100% attendance" objective that comes not only at the expense of fundamental liberties, respect for parents and common sense, but also the health and well-being of our children.

    If lawmakers want to take credit for lowering truancy and disuading juvenile delinquency, that's great. But they better not think they'll be forgiven for doing this at the expense of freedom, privacy, the presumption of innocence, the presumption that the vast majority of parents are not only capable, but those with the God-given right for determining what is in the best interests of our kids. And they certainly had better not do it at the expense of our children's health and future.

    1. This is an example of public policy failing to address the difference between people & things! It is not possible to have an HHS system or judicial system based on property law & have justice in real people terms.

    2. I don't follow your statement, Anonymous. What do you mean?