momtuition

Excuse Me While I Get On My Soapbox

Posted on: April 30, 2012

Ok… So this is my final article in the Autism Awareness series and come next year I don’t want to be the one doing this.  Well, yes I want to but I also would like to see more parents, advocates, teachers etc. coming onboard and sharing their insights and stories. You know that whole “together we’re stronger” line? I think the person who first said it was on to something.

I’m like a mixed bag when it comes to Autism Awareness Month. I think, like many other families, we want it to be every month. There’s still this pressing need to raise the collective consciousness past April and beyond. I believe we have made some progress though. Just think about it… The Daly Observer said yes to running this series of articles on probably what is the highest distribution day (Mondays). I was soooo happy because I knew what it meant to me and was hoping it would mean to so many other parents.

We all have a passion for something. Most of the readers of this series, their issue is autism or special needs in general and all the other needs (education, health) which form an intrinsic part of it. Those needs are urgent for us – We live with them every day. Our task now is how we, through advancement, can realistically meet those needs.

As many of you know, I’m a founding member of the special needs (I’m beginning to have issues with that term (special needs) but another day and time) education lobby group ABILITY and… We. Need. Your. Help. It’s in everyone’s best interest that our education system improves. So how do we do that I’m sure you’re asking? Who’s with me if you think what’s needed is a heavy dose in proportions we have yet to fully confront of reality, accountability both personal and governmental.

Many of us have been fighting for a long time – Fighting for opportunity, for change, for a better future for our kids; each sometimes meaning different things to all of us. If I were to be honest with you, sometimes I want to give up. I want to say; “I don’t care! It is what it is.” But then I always think back to the first parent I ever met who had a child (actually 2) on the autism spectrum. I waited an hour to meet her. She could have “blown me off” but instead she made time for me – To talk about my kid and my issues and most of all she listened to me. Every time I think about it, it brings me to tears. I don’t expect everyone to fully understand this; after all you may not have experienced it before. However it is one of the main reasons why I can’t, or better yet won’t give up.

Top of ABIITY’s wish list is carefully thought out, well-crafted solutions that have vision and scope – One that would come about through respectful discussion with a healthy dose of compromise.  We don’t pretend to have all the answers but… We. Want. To. Help. We can’t sit by and…

Watch our kids continue to age-out of a school system that did nothing to help them cope in the adult-world they’re being thrust into.

We cannot to accept this continued indirect and in some cases blatant discrimination of our special needs students.

We cannot accept this continued archaic way of thinking (by some individuals) that, special need student equals a curriculum consisting of arts and crafts and recess.

We recognize that special education is not the only need served by the public school system; limited funding has to cover all children. On the other hand though, we cannot continue to accept that it’s ok for our education system to limit access to some students to accommodate whatever level of effort and resourcing it feels it is convenient to offer.

What happened to the core principle of universality of access; education for ALL? It breaks my heart when I talk to other moms with kids who are eighteen, twenty years old and the system they went through has (for the most part) remained the same today. How can anyone expect us to accept that! We will not be having this conversation ten years from now. Will we? We just cannot let that happen!

So what are you going to do about it?

My advice…                                                                                 

I encourage you to be…

More assertive, not angry

More committed, not blindly and

More open-minded, without compromising your values

At the end of the day; don’t idolize the box so much so that you’re unable to think outside of it.

======

My name is Salma Crump and I want to thank everyone for their support, words of encouragement, for all the emails they’ve sent – A few parents sent me some very personal emails and said that I sharing my experiences have helped them. That made everything so worth it. To all the folks who sent me emails saying; I touched a nerve or caused them to think of things they’ve never even considered. Thank you. It’s important that you’re onboard for change to happen. Most of all… Thank you to The Daily Observer for making available your platform so my voice could be heard a littler louder. Truly living up to what you believe – “Let there be light”.

This is the final article of a five-part feature I’ve been writing each week which focused on my experiences raising a child with autism. If you have a story to share, any words of advice to add or questions to ask please do so by leaving a comment or sending an email to: salma.crump@gmail.com

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