I’d like to publicly thank the CARD Center for all of their hard work and support.
This is an organization that provides free (or low-cost) seminars and classes for parents, teachers, and the community about autism. They also work within the school system, observing children registered with their center, and then providing feedback and helpful advice to teachers and guidance counselors.
They also attend IEP meetings with parents.
This may not sound like a big deal, but these meetings are crucial to our children. What gets decided here gets put down – practically in stone – in the form of an IEP, and teachers and others refer back to it as the years go by. When a Card Center rep attends an IEP meeting, the school sits up and pays attention.
I’ve been to two formal IEP meetings.
For the first one, our CARD Center representative, was able to go. The room was packed. All of my son’s teachers attended – at one point or another, as they weren’t free the entire time – as well as the guidance counselor, school psychologist, social worker, speech therapist, clerical staff, and others.
Our rep knew exactly what to say and how to say it. She knew how to separate disability from ability, and how to get the difference across to the audience. She had excellent questions about homework, transitions, and extra time for turn-ins.
In short, the IEP meeting was a smashing success. We got everything we needed, and school staff – teachers, guidance counselor and more – left more educated about autism than they were when we started.
The second IEP meeting I attended was a dismal failure.
Needless to say, I was on my own for this one, due to a schedule conflict. Only four people attended – myself included – and the guidance counselor rode herd on everyone there. I left without having won anything. Not a thing.
I will never do this again.
Even if it means re-scheduling, I will never go again without at least an outside observer to help everyone mind their manners. This guidance counselor honestly didn’t care about anything I had to say. Didn’t understand and didn’t want to understand anything about autism or sensory sensitivity.
In closing, if you haven’t looked at this organization before, need help with a situation at school, would like to learn about autism seminars for educators (send your teacher!), need IEP advice, or would like to learn a little more yourself about behavior analysis or any of a range of helpful skills, I highly recommend CARD.
Note: My intention is not to scare anyone. I’ve worked successfully with guidance counselors in the past – without the benefit of outside people – to help my child. There are good people everywhere.
Oh, and we sorted out the guidance counselor issue by going directly to the Assistant Principal, who was both helpful and a good listener. I love happy endings!