Wait! You need an accommodation?

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Today was the first day of school. Both the boys are in middle school, and they are both doing some different extracurriculars. On top of it, D has shifted to mostly General Education classes. S has an honors class. This is all great, but means I’m communicating with more people. And with that, we come to my tale.

I requested before the school year started to have D’s case manager be switched to the same case manager we have for S. Simple switch, yes? Because I find communicating with a lot of people overwhelming. Each person requires different tones, explanations, and often I end up with a lot of emails in succession. I mean…. I’m autistic. Social skills, communication, yeah.. not my strong suit. I fake it well enough for day to day interactions, but it really stresses me out. Just ask my chiropractor. She can always tell when I’ve gotten overwhelmed by my muscles and bones becoming out of alignment…. again.

Well, nope. Not a simple switch. My official request for an accommodation was denied. Apparently, I don’t get to write down that I’m requesting an accommodation for my disability and it be honored. So strike one! I’m a parent, and I shouldn’t just have to email one person, I should email 3 people just in case one person isn’t available that day. So not only not honored, but told I should be emailing even more people for each child. Fun times.

I’m not sure I really get that. But then today, D had 3 meltdowns, by his own account. Only 2 of which the staff recognized as meltdowns. Great that he’s recognizing the feelings of a meltdown enough to recount what happened. But guess what this means… I’m going to have to start teaching him to self-accommodate. That is, he is going to need to learn to continue to self-soothe because no one recognizes that when he’s having to initiate a break means he’s going to need more support throughout the day. I’m sad that at 12, he’s going to have to learn the lesson that sometimes people are just not going to accommodate you because you “appear” to be “fine.” Yeah. Not the greatest lesson.

Then from that whole incident, I learn that previous accommodations are no longer honored unless you restate them. Something as simple as communicate with me in writing. I’m not able to process what’s said on the phone in real time and don’t want to miss important information. It’s pretty simple. But unless explicitly stated, I apparently get a phone call. And of course, since I can’t process in real time, I couldn’t just say to the person “Hey. Yeah. Can you email this to me? kthxbye.”

Which brings me to questioning why this is. Why is my need for an accommodation expected to change in 3 months time? Why is a new accommodation when variables change (adding a new student to the school) denied? Why does my son need to learn to self-accommodate?

The only thing I can figured is that it’s supposed to lead us to be more “independent.” That we are expected as we go towards adulthood and indeed after becoming an adult to not need supports. (sarcasm after this point) I mean, if we’re able to calm ourselves down right now, surely we can keep ourselves in that state. Surely, if we can communicate clearly in this setting, we can in all. It’s not that we have accommodations to help us. It’s not that we practice as much self-help skills as possible to get through those scenarios and rely on our accommodations for the rest of the time. No. That’s not what we do. (end sarcasm)

I don’t believe this bodes well for the rest of my boys’ middle school career. If we’re already seeing signs that self-accommodation is needed, if we’re seeing that ADA required accommodations are being denied, then what does this mean are the expectations of students and disabled people, in general, who interact with this school?

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