Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2008

Autism in schools

August 7, 2008

To the editor:

My heart goes out to Mr. Stapleton and his family. Misinformation is a dangerous thing. While two years ago, I might have agreed with his belief that children with autism were being bused to Kansas City, Kan., I can tell you as the proud parent of a senior and sophomore, children with autism are in every building in Bonner Springs.

Sean, our youngest son, is an outstanding member of the Braves swim team and attends many general education classes. Last year Sean received a standing ovation following his 50-meter freestyle swim in the final swim meet. He is not the fastest. He is not the best swimmer. He is unique in every way. He is a valued member of the Braves swim team. How can a 16-year-old who has significant autism be such a vital member of his school? It takes a caring, compassionate, knowledgeable and well-trained team of general and special educators, administrators, other professionals, peers and parents.

As the Center Coordinator for Families Together Inc., Kansas Parent Training and Information Center, I have visited many schools throughout the region. My sons are right were they need to be. Bonner Springs School District is one of the most progressive districts when it comes to inclusion of students with all types of disabilities. By no means is the district perfect but it has come a long way in the past 10 years.

Every student with a disability has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents are a part of the team that develops the IEP. Least Restrictive Environment is a cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). I personally know of at least three students with autism in each building in USD 204.

If Mr. Stapleton has concerns regarding the LRE for his son, I would be more than willing to help him and his student's team determine the most appropriate supports, services and placement.

Proud parent of two Braves,

Leia Holley

Families Together Inc.

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