This is what Rich and I look like when we're A.) all dolled up at a wedding and B.) relaxed and enjoying some time together. Our weekend in Cape Cod was probably the best weekend I can remember having in all of my 38 years. Rich didn't miss a single detail and I felt like royalty from the moment we left town to the moment I returned. I didn't worry about Ethan at all because he was in good hands and I knew he was having a great time. Whenever Rich called home to get an update we could hear Ethan's laughter in the background. I slept through the night 2 nights in a row in big comfy bed and ate amazing food the entire weekend. I saw old friends and spent much needed one on one time with Rich. I danced and laughed my self sore.
Now we're home and Ethan and I are on the mend from some weird upper respiratory illness that he probably brought home from school. He missed 3 days this week and was pretty bummed about it, each day signing "backpack" and "school" as if to remind me that I was forgetting something important. In addition to signing more often, interacting with peers, and following directions; Ethan has also been putting things away when he's finished and he's getting better by the minute at going up and down the steps. School has really transformed him already and he's only gone for 3 weeks!
Last night I read a blog post written by a mother of a child on the spectrum that really resonated with me:
"And so here's my five-cent revelation, guys: the hardest thing about having a child on the spectrum is the relentless advocating--every damn minute of every damn day--to make sure that the rest of the world treats him with the respect and care he deserves, until such time as he can do it for himself."
I have been teetering on the edge of losing my resolve when it comes to the dispute over his placement at the deaf school. Most of the time I just want to cave in and pay the tuition ourselves. Giving up isn't really an option for us financially, but neither is taking this to the bitter end. Going through due process could cost us up to $10,000 and we could still lose. In Illinois (the only state I found stats on) the court favors the school 2/3 of the time. So if that statistic were similar here in Ohio, we'd be out the money and still be stuck with the cost of tuition.
Our advocate gave me some extreme advice after just one harried conversation. She has a great record of winning her cases (she's not a lawyer, but she knows the law) so I decided to follow her directions and I withdrew our appeal. She instructed me to request another IEP meeting instead because we have a new report from Ethan's SLP that we would like to use as part our argument. She thinks (and I'm sure she's right) that if it isn't part of the IEP or MFE (sorry for the education terms) that the school won't give it a second thought. I hate the idea of going back into another IEP meeting, but from what I know about this woman, she's a shark and she'll likely do all the talking anyway! She sees multiple issues with his IEP that need addressed, so I know this is the right thing to do.
She also wants a psychologist to visit the placement at the public school as well as observe Ethan at the deaf school. This report can support our argument that Ethan's social/emotional development will be stunted in a public school vs. a school where all the children and adults use sign language. How we get this paid for is still a mystery.
The only good aspect of all of this is that Ethan's deaf school is very understanding and they are allowing him to stay on as a "visitor" for as long as it takes to resolve the situation. They have never asked a deaf child to leave for lack of money. That would go against everything they are there to accomplish. So Ethan will remain in this wonderful place that is helping him find his voice while I continue to dig deep and try to find my own.