Saturday, September 5, 2009

when can I move to New Jersey?

As I have written earlier, we participate in Ohio's "autism scholarship." The program is essentially a voucher system for parents who feel that the public school cannot provide adequate services for their autistic child. The funds are used to acquire speech and occupational therapy, one-on-one ABA therapy, or almost anything else needed to help bring an autistic child toward more typical verbal and social development. I am very thankful for this program. Our school system had no teachers or classrooms focused on autism. He could have one-on-one speech therapy only once a week. It was not enough.

With the voucher money, we pay for Martin's speech therapy and his tutor. Last year, the tutor accompanied Martin to a Montessori preschool. They did one-on-one work after school ended at noon. Our hope has always been that he could manage school alone. Last year, we transitioned Martin toward more time at school without his tutor's assistance. It went really well.

This year, however, has not gone so well. And part of the problem is that even if Martin can manage the school day alone, it will never look like the patterns of typical children. He will still cover his ears when the noise is too much. He will still needs breaks from the close contact with so many children. Even as the challenge of school helps him develop socially, it will never overcome the fact that Martin interacts with the world differently. And that difference is increasingly becoming a problem. With no teachers or classrooms focused on autism in our area, Martin has to be in more typical settings if we want him to experience school. And no matter how the teachers and administrators try, they never seem to be able to let go of their typical standards. They want Martin to respond consistently to verbal direction. They want him to learn routines quickly. While they would never say that they want him to be like everyone else, they want him to act like everyone else.

So I am ready to pack my bags for New Jersey, the state where insurance companies must cover speech and occupational therapy for autistics to the same degree they cover it for stroke victims. I'm ready to head out for the state with the most renowned public school resources for autistic children, with teachers and classrooms prepared to work with kids like Martin. But I don't live in New Jersey. It's hundreds of miles away. I live here and have no idea how to make the best of this situation. Anyone in NJ want to trade houses and jobs for awhile?


  1. I totally feel for you and can only imagine how frustrating the school setting must be for him and you. PA is not so bad either (if you are considering NJ), and we'd love to have you move here! We have 4 fantastic Autistic Support classes at my school. I hope Ohio can develop some like ours sometime soon.

  2. I wish you could move here. Our school districts pay for 1:1 aides, and everything else. The school where I teach has children on the spectrum and lots of them. I think it's not fair that you don't. Maybe I can talk you into California! :)

    -Jen S.