Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Day of School :)

Here we are again, school time. Time where Owen is back into the swing of things, back into his "norm" where it all makes sense again, and this year he gets a special treat: Maddie is joining him.

At Owen's school, they put the SK's and JK's together, and try and keep them with the same teacher. I love this idea, especially for my children: not only with Autism, but just in general, my children thrive on relationships built and the same routine, this was a great thing for Maddie as well.

Last week was the first week: they stagger them in. Owen was first for a full day, off the next day while Maddie goes in for the morning. They loved it. The next day, both would break my heart by giving me the QUICKEST kiss of life, and jump on the bus. Owen (happy to say!) is not wearing the seat belt with Maddie beside him, man that girl helps without even knowing it.

Maddie has been a bit confused when Owen goes off to to SK things while she does JK things, I love that they are so close. They have their cubbies beside each other, they sit with each other: but as well, Maddie will come home and tell me about her day with the other kids as well, music to my ears.

School is going so well for those two peas in a pod: something has to go wrong though right? here it is.

Ben started preschool, the same preschool his siblings went too, and I am the president this year of the Board at the preschool as well. Here we were thinking the Resource Teacher referral went in, of course not. So, Ben is listed as not having a Resource teacher, but thankfully she is there anyway helping another little boy. Ben did well the first day, RT was there, he is learning the routine, I am NOT there (big help). Fast forward to Day 2: yesterday. Its' my duty day (parents go in and help with the chores, activities and watch the children). Ben has major meltdown, even the other kids were closing their ears because of his noise. Low and behold - no RT. She is there for 1 day out of 5 at this school. Yea, you heard me right, 1! RT's in preschool are loosing their funding, some parents (and its their right and feelings) don't know how to work with children with Special Needs, so when the RT is not there, the Teacher has to deal with those situations, which in turn takes time away from productive learning.

These are the EARLY years. I am a famous one for using the phrase, "Early intervention is key to optimal success". Where is the early intervention when there is no funding for the child to even stand a chance? So, yesterday after seeing my son in such a tantrum: I had a plan.

I came home. Calmed down. Emailed.

I emailed our Mayor Jim Diodati, our MPP Kim Craitor, the Region, the Niagara Community Foundation, Welland MPP Cindy Forster (thank you FB friends). Here is my letter (all of them were a little different depending on the person who was getting the letter)

Dear Mr. Diodati and Mr. Craitor,

I am writing to you as a mother who has 2 boys, ages 5 and 2, who have severe Autism. You have both been so kind and gracious to help us for our 2 fundraisers in the past to help raise money to pay for Intensive Behavioural Intervention therapy, as our boys continue to wait on the government funded waitlist for 3 years: again, yes we are still waiting.

What I am writing to you about today, is the lack of funding the children with Special Needs are getting, and continue to get less and less with help while they are in preschool. My youngest son Benjamin attends Kids Kastle Co-Op Preschool here on Lundy's Lane in Niagara Falls, 3 mornings a week to help him with social, communication, structure and routine. He is suffering from the lack of attention he receives, which is at no fault of the teacher, as the school is only allotted 1 day for the Resource teacher from Niagara Support Services to be there. In his class alone, there are 2 children with an actual diagnosis of Autism, 1 child in the process of getting a diagnosis, and 1 child with massive behavioural issues with possible Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The Resource Teacher is there on Mondays, then on Wednesdays and Fridays, the teacher is left alone, with 2 parents (who may or may not feel comfortable to help with one of our children with Special Needs is having a meltdown, wanders etc).

This funding, or lack there of, is covered through the Region, and then is sent (in our case being from Niagara Falls) to Niagara Support Services, and each year the amount of time the resource teacher is there is less and less, and who is suffering? The child that has no help or support, and parents like me who feel they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

What I am asking is for your help. Being a parent to a child with Special Needs is no easy task, our life goes from one obstacle to the next: so I am asking that if you are at all able, to help us get more funding, to be on our side for the children who need that extra help but slowly every year the funding for that help is being taken away.

Please help us, an email to the region, a phone call, anything would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Vanessa Coens
6528 Harper Dr
Niagara Falls, ON
L2E 7K6

Thankfully someone is looking out for my boys: I received an email this afternoon from our MPP Kim Craitor with his phone number asking me to call him. Which I did. Now the waiting game.


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