A few weeks have gone by. I can finally catch my breath and look around. So, what’s the status quo?
- Grace is finally stable. No more paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations–for the most part.
- Her mood is the wild card at this point. She still struggles with mania and depression, but the extremes have moved in.
- Sleep is an ever-present challenge because of the mood issues. If Grace is manic, then she might not sleep. If she’s depressed, then she might not sleep. Sleep, however, is when the brain rests and renews. It’s also one of the primary ways in which relapses are prevented. This is a catch-22.
- We’ve learned that Grace does better in contained environments like home, smaller spaces like the grocery store if it’s not too crowded, and a bookstore with which she’s familiar. She cannot tolerate malls or overly crowded buildings like her school. She can’t process the sensory input both audio and visual.
- She will relapse. It’s only a matter of time, but now we have more resources in place.
So, what now? Well, the partial hospitalization program (PHP) is getting ready to spring Grace, but they are, unlike some PHPs, adamant that she have an appropriate placement; and, her school district is clearly not going to provide her with an appropriate placement. What’s going to happen? I have been collaborating with the people who provide education to the patients at the PHP, and they have agreed to perform an IEP evaluation for Grace–something her school district should have done but failed to do. I just learned yesterday that Grace does indeed qualify for an IEP (of course she does!) according to IDEA’s criteria for educational disabilities. On Monday next, I will meet with the IEP team which includes the facilities director of the school providing education to the PHP’s patients, Grace’s therapist, and Grace’s current PHP teacher. The special education director of our school district will meet us at the PHP, and we will acquaint her with the ASR (assessment summary results) for the IEP. I will then declare that I want Grace to be placed in an intermediate district that can provide her with the most appropriate education until she is in the 7th grade at which time she will qualify for day treatment. Everyone on staff at the PHP agrees that Grace has profound needs, and a public school will not be able to meet Grace’s needs. The facilities director has stepped in with gusto and been a true advocate for Grace and me. She has decided to deal with our school district herself which I appreciate to no end.
I don’t know how this meeting will go. What I know for sure is that I will be dealing with duplicitous people who have no problem saying one thing and doing another. They also have no problem breaking the law. Perhaps when they were young and full of idealistic ambition they thought they were going to make a difference. They went to college, learned how to educate special children with special needs, and, at some point between there and here, tiny compromises in ethics were made. One white lie here. One ethics breach there. One little cover-up. One federal violation…Sooner or later, one’s sense of right and wrong becomes murky, and it becomes more about covering one’s ass than it does about meeting the educational needs of vulnerable children. I think this is what has happened in my school district.
Nonetheless, my job right now is to take care of Grace, and, unfortunately, I have another daughter who has an autism spectrum disorder whose needs are not being met either. She does have an IEP, but it matters not. She’s drowning, and there isn’t a soul in her school who really seems to care. I have to make some decisions about her future, too. Oh, the timing…