Today I read an article about the Top 10 best and worst places to live for people with Autism. I was happy to see that the Boston Metropolitan area ranked in the Top 10 for accessibility of services and resources. But, while it's great to be featured among the "best" it certainly made me think about consistency.
Today, I met with a Mom in our office who moved her child and her family from one local community to another to avoid her son with special needs being confined to a "basement" classroom. When she asked why the Special Ed Kindergarten class was a level below the regular kids, she was told that "they let them go up and visit." I was horrified; and she was motivated to find a school district that would let her son above ground.
While this family was able to change zip codes and find relief, there are a number of parents, grandparents and caregivers who battle with teachers, administrators and school districts to ensure that their children are in a setting where they can thrive and be the best versions of themselves.
On the Northshore, we have a number of wonderful organizations who are dedicated to working with children and families who struggle with Autism or similar challenges, but what else can we do? As parents, educators, friends and family of people living with Autism and other social and learning disabilities we have an obligation to ensure that the children in our community are not exiled to basements and forgotten school wings. We need to speak up to ensure that the services in our area are not just among the best- but the very best.
Ashley Coates is the Assistant Director of the Brain Balance Achievement Center in Danvers, MA.