I'm having a hard time finishing up that letter to the school district about N's evaluation.
It's not that I don't know what to say, it's that I'm not sure how much I want to...lie is a strong word. Exaggerate? Dissemble slightly?
Here's the thing: There is a woman at our school, a woman whose son is on the spectrum and in special ed (though very much mainstreamed into a general ed classroom). She has become so consumed by this process that she is now on the district's special ed advisory board. Rather than having me pay an advocate, she has taken on sort of 'mentoring' me. She is a WEALTH of knowledge (you should have seen--or, rather, FELT--the box of information she handed me when we got together the other day to talk) and a very strong personality. Perfect for an advocate, actually. I would not be at all surprised if that's what she eventually ends up doing in her life.
I sent her a draft of the fleshed-out letter I wrote up the other night, in full panic-and-stress sweat, angry and nervous and unsure of what was right to say. She made a bunch of changes, suggestions, no more than that. She thinks I really need to push for an autism-spectrum diagnosis, or at least to push for the sorts of assessments that would lead to an autism-spectrum diagnosis, in order to get the information we both think I'll need to help N be successful in school. That's all well and good...except I am almost totally certain that he is NOT on the spectrum. And saying, "I think he's on the spectrum, thus you need to do the following tests" feels...deceitful to me. Put a little more positively, it would just be fighting fire with fire--stacking my deceits, aimed at helping my son, against their deceits, aimed at avoiding spending money on helping my son. Do the ends justify the means? And, really, if you think about it...Who am I to say he ISN'T on the spectrum? If pushing the symptoms that are spectrummy (and he has them, though some of them are fading quickly) to the forefront--even if they're not really forefront issues right now--will help, is it wrong to do that? Do I owe these people perfect forthrightness? Don't I owe my son more?
And have you ever seen a paragraph that more defines the words "self justification" than the one above?
There's also a lot of entitlement in what she wants me to ask for...which is a problem I have. I do not have a huge sense of entitlement--or, perhaps, just not one huge enough for the battle before me. But that I might be able to muster. One of her other main points--that I should insist on having people from the district level involved in and attending these assessments and IEP meetings--seems to me to be almost asking for too much attention for a child who is clearly at a lower level of need than many of the other special-ed kids. I worry, somewhat, that bringing in the people who see the full spectrum of what is in the district will backfire on me, make N's problems seem even more insignificant, and even less worthy of services. I just don't know.
So, I'll be spending part of this weekend tweaking my original letter complaining about the assessment process, and adding in those of her suggestions I feel could possibly have come from my mouth, and finding out the addresses of the people to whom I will be sending it. (In that, this woman's help has been absolutely invaluable...She gave me the names of the key personnel at the district level to whom I need to level the complaints I have about the way the assessment meeting went. And THAT I have no problem doing. Because that meeting was fairly atrocious, and I want blood.)
Wish me...not luck. A cool, calm head. And the ability to walk the line of morality and advocacy so as to achieve the best end possible.