Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My letter to our District School Board

Summary - Owen is not recieving 1:1 Support at his school, and he despretely requires it. I wanted to help anyway I could, so I wrote a letter to help show them why he needs it so badly. Here it is -

To: District School Board of Niagara

Regarding: EA Support for Owen Coens, JK-Cherrywood Acres, Niagara Falls

Current Issue - EA only in his class in the morning, no support in the afternoon.


I am writing this letter, in hopes that you will understand and concider giving my son, Owen, who is in Junior Kindergarten much more EA support than

he is currently receiving as of right now. Owen has been diagnosed in March 2010 with Severe Autism, and has always required asisstance in almost every aspect of

his young life. Owen has a very difficult time expressing verbal communication, and just started putting 2 words together within the past year. Owen will still use a very small amount of Sign Language if he can not find the words, like, "more, different, or help".

Since attending Cherrywood Acres, Owen's social skills have increased from what they were, but are still not anywhere near where a, "typical" child would be for his age, and he is struggling in all other areas, like staying on task, communication, focusing, and small amounts of behavioural screaming when he is not fully understanding what is expected of him. Owen has now become a, "safety risk" at the school, and this was documented in his Daily Activity Journal from his teachers directly to myself and my husband, stating in the afternoon, when his EA support is gone, he has begun to wander where the teachers can not see him, he is also standing by the classroom door sneaking out (so now the door is staying shut), he is not completing tasks given to him without support - becuase there are 30 students in his classroom. His safety for wandering or called a "flight risk" has not gone unnoticed by the City of Niagara Falls, as Owen has no concept of danger or a dangerous situation, a traffic sign was place on our street for his safety, so I doubt there should be a problem at his school giving him the support he quickly requires. Since the ratio is 1:15, I can only imagine how a parent with a, "typical" child feels when the attention is not always there, which makes the concern 100% more heartbreaking when it is your child with a disability who does not have the ability to tell you how there needs are not always being met. The teachers are trying their hardest, believe me, I realize that - and Owen has been so fortunate to have an amazing, supportive and caring school - but for his own success, he needs to have more assistance as things do not come easy to him, and he needs to monitored 24/7. I can only imagine as a parent the lack of support my son and the other little boy in his class also sufferring from ASD experience with only 2 teachers in the room and no EA support in the afternoon.

Owen is also having a difficult time at meal times at school, which has also been documented in his Daily Acitivty Journal buy his teachers and EA. Since there is only 1 teacher available for the lunch time duty, again for 30 students, Owen is not getting that 1:1 support he needs to be prompted to finish his meal. It has been documented so far in the entire month of November, but November 11 2011, that Owen was only having milk and a cookie for the entire day he was at school - I am sure you can understand why I am very upset over this. I am sending my child who is 4 years old, to his school for 6-7 hrs a day, and he is not eating hardly anything the entire day, then returns home starving. It is my understanding after speaking to his teacher Mrs. Philip that the support during lunch is also not there, and in my opinion, for his health needs to be.

Most of Owens behavioural issues are happening when his EA support leaves from supporting his class in the morning, and goes over to the other JK class in the afternoon. His wandering, screaming, crying, health and safety concerns highten, and I can not let my son regress when he has come so far, especially in his school environment. Knowing that this has been documented, the school and I have had many meetings about this, and now has become a concern for his safety and his health, I can not see why this can not be resolved quickly and give him the support he requires in his class and day to day activities. I am an active member and public presentor for Autism Niagara, an employee for over 6 years at Bethesda Health Services in Vineland, and a mother to a 4 year old that needs me to be his voice in a world that can't understand all his complexities.

I eagerly await for your response, and for my sons sake, I hope that it is quick, so he may start to live at his full potential and I am not worrying all day for my son's inability to turn to ability.

Thank you,

Vanessa Coens

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