ASD Students Deserve a Free and Appropriate Public Education from St Johns County Schools
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Although St Johns County Schools' website states that it provides a number of services for students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), it has become evident to me, as a former educator, current mental health therapist, and now soon-to-be stepmother of a child with Autism attending SJCS, that the district does not, in fact, meet the needs of ASD students.
The SJCS website states that "With communication, both social and functional being one of the primary deficits characteristic of this disorder, the program focuses on teaching, practicing and generalizing these skills throughout the school environment. In addition, the program highlights socialization skills as well as increased attention skills, two other common deficits in the area of ASD." Elliot (soon-to-be stepson) receives none of these services.
Elliot's classrooms have not been geared toward students with Autism because only a small percentage--maybe 20%(?)--of the students in the class are on the Autism spectrum. The others have varying disabilities and might be Intellectually Disabled, have Other Health Impairments, or have Language Impairments. They learn very differently from Elliot. The mind of a child with ASD is unique.
Though the SJCS website boasts of its ASD services, the truth is that these services DO NOT exist and ARE NOT provided--at least not that Elliot's dad (or I) have seen. Social skills training does not exist. Attention difficulties are not addressed. And communication services are provided by an unlicensed Speech and Language Pathologist Intern for less than 60 minutes per week. Are these students receiving a Free and Appropriate Public Education?
Like all parents, Elliot's father and I wish for Elliot to learn and grow at school as well as at home; however, it is incumbent upon us--but mostly E's dad--to teach Elliot what he needs to succeed in life and/or to obtain therapeutic intervention (via a behavioral therapist) in order to provide the additional social skills, communication, and attention-related interventions that he needs to thrive. If he is to grow up to be independent, he needs MUCH more than is provided him by SJCS.
Please sign our petition to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Elliot, get the services they need in St Johns County Schools. They are special kids (as all kids are) with unique learning styles who need an educated suited to the way they learn.
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