FIGHT FOR SCHOOL INCLUSION & CREATE A SENSORY ROOM FOR OUR YOUTH!
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As a resident of Iredell County, North Carolina for several years, and most importantly as a parent to an amazing young man with Autism and Sensory Processing Dysfunction, I am calling for action to become our local Exceptional Children's best advocates, spreading awareness and messages of positive change within our schools I am also calling for easier access to local services and facilities for people like my son As parents and individuals who want equal rights, it is our job to meet and work with agencies to stop discrimination and promote inclusion. My twelve year old and those on the Autism Spectrum I know do not often experience the life that they deserve...The same life the other students receive, the same life others live if they need something to help them adapt and to feel accepted if different.
I hear stories of children with friends at lunch tables across our nation, of classes with instruction and inclusion and the opportunity to do a science project or sing in choir or leave the hallway or play outside with other children. My son does not get these opportunities despite what data many similar parents might think is accurate on an IEP. No....I see complete isolation down a hallway that no one else enters. I see children eating in class while the school is in the lunchroom. Often, they eat alone in the class while they spend time on their laptops. Sometimes kids like London, my son, sit in the back of a room with foam walls surrounding them, so that they cannot see even the EC class or teacher for hours. I see them staying in EC classrooms and hear my son tell me about friends being restrained for crying every week. He spends every other day in a small room at school if he is "disruptive." Sometimes, he forgets there is a light in there and comes home crying. I go to meetings for hours and read Wrightslaw and seek advocacy but nothing changes. He remains segregated and his EC peers sit in a class with no instruction or opportunity to thrive. Meanwhile, we rank high because of laptops and test scores. EC student test scores do not count on the school rank. It seems as if the system needs this placement in order to keep prestige and budget for technology. These children are bright, do not have extreme deficits and are fully capable of being friends with others, creating projects, eating meals and playing alongside the rest of the school but they are not. I have advocated for my son for years, but it is time for us to be the change instead of leaving IEP meetings with no change and our kids feeling alone and not getting the education and childhood they deserve. Trust me, it is us that must stop being complacent and nodding our heads while our kids are put in isolation rooms, being restrained, being left out and lacking instruction so that they can be a part of our community.
We start by advocating at the schools. I have speakers that I will invite and am looking for parents and/or their children who are willing to speak to the community, our schools, our classes, our administration to get them what they deserve. Inclusion is what makes all humans feel accepted. My son is not included. In fact, he is shunned. I invite you to write letters of what your vision is for your child in school or community, what you have seen living in different parts of the nation with educational results, services, etc and advocate for friendship, mentors, services, regular childhood, understanding autism for those who don't, promoting their gifts and talents, speaking out against bullying and what inclusion and the least restrictive environment means for you or your child.
Send me letters, let me know when you are available to speak or if you are willing to speak to a group on any of the above subjects. Don't be afraid. Any voice is better than none. You will have support. No venue is too small. Speak up. Let me know what you can talk about and where. If you want to but lack ideas, I will assign you a subject you know and we will figure it out and put a group together to hear you. This is your time to be your child's best advocate!
My other project I need your help with is a sensory room for the youth in our community that have not had this need met but deserve it. I will begin funding for the project and will be accepting donations on this page. We need to write the mayor about the benefits and lack of sensory services in educational settings and in the community. I need a location so put your feelers out and give me ideas or connections. I think a community Sensory Room will be best but have actually been turned down at two schools when I offered to build one with a project manager with all materials to redo lighting, provide balls, mats, light projectors, etc in the room that is already at the school. They said they were fine. Meanwhile kids go to "cool down rooms," as I walk passed the unused rooms with a few balls that have old cardboard, trash and desk chairs on top of them.
Step 1: Send me stories, send me availability, ideas, times or places you would be willing to share on any of the topics I mentioned in the prior paragraph.
Step 2: Sign this petition
Step 3: Forward this petition. Add to it on any social media platform you can with your input promoting this change for our kids.
Step 4: Accept my meet up invitation that I will send out before the school year (date TBD). Bring friends or family that can relate or care or might have a connection financially, informatively, or be willing to help. Bring your children. They are always welcome and I will provide a space for them to relax, play and if they need to sit with you, they can. If you have to leave, no worries. No sitter, no problem. We will do our best and accept you, your kids just the way you are....Inclusion. No judgement. If they want to help, they can. Explain it to them in a way that they would be happy about if you are okay with that and ask them how school or life could be better and what a sensory room or school day would be like if they had one for them and their friends.
Step 4: Have them sign if appropriate. Have them send a letter to me, no matter how short, telling me how they feel in school or how a sensory room would help them. Anything. They are becoming advocates. They are a huge part of this.
Step 5: Write the mayor and board of education. Contact ECAC. Ask me for this information if you don't have it.
Step 6: Raise funds/ Let me know if there is a group or person who wants to help financially, even yourself. Every penny counts. This will go to the sensory room.
Step 7: Be the change for Mooresville, NC! Be the change for your kid, my kid, other kids trapped in a cycle of less than everyone else around this wealthy school district. Sign this petition and help me. I want to do it all alone, but I need you guys, my Exceptional Child family who knows the struggles, the joys and wants the best for their children who are being denied their rights to inclusion and the amazing opportunity to live in a proud town that accepts them for who they are and advocates for them, standing out on the map, even providing a safe haven at no cost per visit to a sensory room for play, calm, and an escape from the loud world. Mooresville, NC is ready. I am ready. Are you?
1.Sign and forward 2.Contact me asap about anything you can offer for the sensory room or connections 3.Share this.
If we win this petition, our kids and your friend's kids who need sensory input or output or a place that will help them, will have this through a Community Sensory Room at no cost. We will join to help this town that is often a shining example be just that, this time with the Exceptional Children being the ones who benefit and are given something that will benefit them and their families, whether during or after a meltdown, as a reward, as a place to go when things are hard, a place to hang out with a friend, a place to visit on a rainy day, a place of therapy for kids who hear everything, sense everything louder, more blurred and more bright than others. It is the least they deserve, special lighting, vibrations, chairs, centers; there will be input and output in the center. Your child will be given a break. It will not be shabby, embarrassing or weird. It will be cool, a wonderful experience and the place they will want to be and often need to be.
If we win, our community and schools will hopefully put inclusion into effect. If we win, you will learn and be a part of making a better way for your child or a child you know by educating other youth and the community and leaders about their rights, their abilities and demanding a life that includes them. That means a school where they eat with friends, where they are not restrained for crying, where they are able to participate in events, to play alongside neurotypical peers and receive instruction from a teacher, not just handed a worksheet and see outside of the four walls once a day for 20 minutes. They will know other people. The schools will hear their story through auditorium programs, posters promoting inclusion and parental involvement to help our young people not be treated like lepers by some through isolation and lack of opportunity. We will see less bullying, more friendships, more mainstream opportunity, and better teachers, one on ones, better budgets, organizations and teams that involve our kiddos. This is huge.
If we lose and you do not sign and write and pass this on, there will be no sensory room, there will be no inclusion, there will be lack of opportunity to be a part of what all neurotypical kids are simply allotted...classroom instruction, real recess, teams, friendships, confidence, education, a life where they never again have to fear being placed at the back of a room, facing a wall inside a box for half of a school year, like my son did. I know that sounds harsh, but that is what happened this year. If I do not make this change, I have failed you, your family and most of all my beautiful son. If we lose, our kids will not be equal in this town, plain and simple. They deserve the world. Let's give them the best we can and not remain stagnant. I am ready. Our kids need us.
Thanks for hearing me out and for your participation in being this change by signing!
Amber and London :)
Note: This does not reflect every educator in Mooresville. I adore so many of the teachers and staff my son has had over the years, who are still a part of his life and who fought for his rights like he was their own son. There are great people in our county who have this same vision and deserve recognition for pouring their hearts into projects for our kiddos, parents who are heroes, kids who befriend lonely ones. This is an effort to have a community with them as the example, not the rest of the community who fails to treat Exceptional Children with equality.
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