A Tsunami Is Coming

In the meeting that was scheduled for Shantel and I to officially meet the new IEP team members that had been assigned to Shantel after her assistant, Mrs. N,  and the Department Chair, Mrs. G, both quit, we all reviewed the IEP in detail to ensure everyone understood the terms of the agreement and we all signed on the dotted line, AGAIN!

The new, temporary assistant, Mrs. C, was a middle-aged woman who took to Shantel right away. She was compassionate, caring, and very supportive of Shantel. As the events of the next few weeks unfolded, I am sure if not for Mrs. C, things would have been much worse for Shantel than they were.

In addition to the District Department Head, Mr. R and the Department Chair, Mrs. J, and Shantel’s Assistant, Mrs. C, there were many other IEP team members we haven’t talked about yet. For example; every teacher Shantel had was considered part of her IEP team and they all provided their opinions as to what they thought Shantel needed to do, or what they thought she did or didn’t need to have. Keep in mind Shantel was the first totally blind child to attend this High School and none of her teachers had ever worked with a blind student before.

Her mobility instructor, Mr. P, who was responsible for teaching Shantel how to travel safely from place to place using her long cane, was part of the IEP  team as well. He would work with Shantel once a week for two hours. At first, he worked with Shantel within the school. Then, once she mastered the school, he would come to our home before school, and take Shantel into the community to teach her how to cross streets and intersections using only the sound of the traffic surge as her indication of when it was safe to cross. He also wanted me to understand what I needed to do as Shantel’s sighted guide, so he would blindfold me and have me do mobility with him.  I was fine with him teaching Shantel the skills she needed to learn to be safe, as long as he or I was with her. But, then he told me I needed to start letting her walk alone to catch the bus to go to school, and take the public bus to the mall, and even told me I needed to let her go to the airport alone and take a plane to Tucson and back! All of this so she could learn how to be independent! I told him very quickly that wasn’t going to happen. He said if I didn’t allow all these things, I would be crippling Shantel and she would never develop a sense of security as she travels within her environment. But he really stepped over the line with me, when he said I was going to be the cause of Shantel getting herself killed! Now, keep in mind, Shantel was only fourteen at the time, she had just been attacked, in the safety of her own school, and was still traumatized from that whole event. Shantel was telling me she didn’t want to walk anywhere alone and begged me to promise her I wouldn’t let that happen. I tried to explain to Mr. P what Shantel’s fears were, and I also told him I didn’t think it was safe for her to be out alone yet.  I told him I wouldn’t let one of our sighted children do those things alone at fourteen!  He told me he was going to write this all up in his report and call another IEP meeting to discuss how I wasn’t cooperating with his “authority and expertise”. I simply said “I will see you at that meeting, but in the meantime my expectations are you will support the current IEP and not leave Shantel alone at any time”.

Next: The Tsunami Builds In Strength!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 19:57:55

    I don’t know how this Tsunami could get any bigger! So I will patiently wait for the next update! xoxo


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