In order to make long horror stories short I have just briefed what has happened in my daughters years of school. This IS our personal experiences. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more, I’m more than happy to share from our experiences.
2003-2004 Tara was in the Oconomowoc Area School district- I didn’t have many issues to really talk about. I experienced the educational Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher went above and beyond, She really tried hard to get Tara the sign language that she badly needed. The therapists at that time were very good with Tara and did everything that they could. Oconomowoc had NO issues with me being in the classroom observing my daughter.
2004-2005 Tara was in the Waupun School District. I cant really say much about this school district other than at that time the special education program was in the High School. I didn’t really like that as Tara was not with her peers to be able to learn from them. But on the other hand is that there was some High School students that did volunteer in the special education program so there was always extra help. They did sign language with all the children as the teacher and staff members of the special education program had basic sign language. Waupun WELCOMED parents to stay and be active in the special educational program for the kids with special needs.
2005-2006 Tara was in the Clintonville school district for a very short time for very good reasons. This school district is worthless and not worth any child’s time. I would have fought this school district but because I didn’t have to fight about services I didn’t know Tara’s rights or many of my rights. Clintonville school district broke tons of laws, didn’t care who they actually hurt, didn’t care if they were doing things the correct way or not. Clintonville was a babysitter flying by the seat of their pants. Not worth WASTING your child’s time at this school district. The only good thing that came out out Clintonville school district was that I threw myself into researching Tara’s rights, laws and regulations to be able to fight for our rights in the future.
2005-2009 Here we are at Shawano School district. I’m not impressed at all with Shawano School District. I had to fight from the beginning just to have things modified. I spent 3.5 years constantly fighting for Tara’s rights and a correct IEP. This school is NOT worth the stress they put on your family, this school district is guaranteed to keep your child from making progress. This school district has PROVED that they just want the federal and state funds and not care about the education of a child with special needs.
2005-2006 The school knew that Tara was deaf and hard of haring but they would only give Tara 30 minutes per month for the DHH services. The OT, and the PT were good but they needed a boost to get along and make progress. So I wasted 1 whole year fighting just to get things modified for Tara the way that they should be in the classroom. Then I got the excuse also that “oh well this is Tara’s first year here and we don’t know her very well”. Half the year has already gone and past. Yet they still didn’t know Tara?
2006-2007 So the second year comes around that she is in Kindergarten at Shawano School district. This school year was also wasted because I had to waste it with fighting the district on what Tara needed, even though the district knew themselves. I had taken Tara to evaluations for the DHH services and what they felt that Tara should be getting. Even after all the evaluations and meetings they still couldn’t get the correct services for Tara.
2007-2008 Now this year has been hell also so far. The “paraprofessional” did make rude and mean comments “Tara is like a 2 year old and I’m so past that.” The school district was told that they can come visit my house and see how Tara is and try to get to know her if they would like. Tara wasn’t making progress and not wanting to go to school hardly anymore. So I had to go in and check things out on why she doesn’t want to go anymore. Well I saw that Tara is not even being reached (Just like the years before) and Tara is in her own little world 95% of the day. There is no inclusion with this school. The kids don’t really know her or have the resources to get to know her. I ended up putting in a complaint to the State of Wisconsin against the Shawano School district. There is no communication between school and home due to the school personnel. I try to get things communicated from school to home but they refuse to communicate with me. Xxxxxx X came up to me one day after I was done getting Tara ready for the school day and she asked me if I would like to go to the Wisconsin School for the Deaf to see what they have to offer for kids that are deaf hard of hearing plus other handicaps. I said just to bring things back here and try to use them like ideas right.. She said yes. Then 1 week later things are being spread around that I’m going to send my daughter to school to WSD. When I refused and said no and stuck to it then the WSD visit was canceled. Shawano School District is NOT a place if you want your special needs child to be reached and make Progress. They fight you on everything even if it is very obvious. They do not care what is going on as long as they are saving money, they worry about the budget when in an IEP meeting and the cost, they do not worry about what the child needs at all. I was also told by a county worker that “Shawano is not a place or school to be at all; It is one of the WORST”. Till this day even after the complaint has been filed there is still nobody that is in for Tara. Her IEP is still NOT being followed. The school district is not communicating, or trying get get the process to move forward so Tara can make progress and get an education that she needs.
Thank goodness this year is over!!!
June 11th 2008 Graduation from Kindergarten
The children had their graduation today and it was absolutely wonderful! Tara was very good during the ceremony and Tara’s aide (Julie) was wonderful with Tara. Julie has the potential and tries very hard. She was over all a good fit for Tara because she listened to what Tara was trying to tell her, and she tried very hard to do what she was suppose to do.
Jonny had a part to do in front of everybody. He did wonderful and made the crowd giggle (Jonny make someone giggle no way) Yeah right who am I trying to “kid”. What happened was they were al singing a song and it went something like this: I have a grad etude attitude Yea Yea Yea, I have a grad etude attitude Yea Yea Yea What are you grateful for ? What are you grateful for? Jonny says “I’m grateful for Chocolate chip cookies”. I have a grad etude attitude Yea Yea Yea, I have a grad etude attitude Yea Yea Yea!
We came home after the ceremony and we celebrated. I Made a cake for them and decorated it with Jonny’s Help. Tara wanted to dig right in and eat it before it was done so I had to “fix” the cake. We had candles and we sang the congrats song. One of the days I will not ever forget!
We had a blast and it was defiantly once in a life time experience! I sat with one of my friends and we were both in tears! Our “babies” are growing up FAST. Tara and Jonny will be both going into the 1st Grade and growing and getting bigger and bigger. Time flies when you are having fun, I enjoy being able to watch both my kids grow up some days just go too fast! I will be posting some graduation pictures feel free to stop on by the Photo page to see them! I’m sure that they (Tara and Jonny) have grown since you last checked the pictures.
Well 2008 Summer is now over thank God! Everything fell through for Tara this summer, so we worked at home on things and did what kids do best. We played and went shopping and played and we enjoyed every minute of it together. This Summer Tara started to sign a PHRASE “I want _____ more Please”, she started to put her self on the toilet this summer as well. She can now put her own shirt on also.
The School year has now started and Tara has a new Aide, her name is Jill and she is wonderful! Tara really liked her from the first day and was fine with me leaving after staying half the school day. Tara really figured her out right away and found that Jill DOES listen to what Tara needs, and Tara has taken Jill to the bathroom each day so far (4 days into school).
Tonight at dinner time I got the question “Mom does Tara have aussim?” (Mom does Tara have Autism”?) I said yes and then Jonny says because she was born that way right? I said yes and Jonny said I talk and Tara talks well sometimes like “yayayayayayyyyayayayayay”. Right I said yes and Tara also talks with her hands and Jonny interrupted and says yeah I do that also. I said yes.
So how do we talk to the kids about why some are the way they are? You explain that it is OK to be different, explain how we are all different in different ways. Example, some have brown hair some have blonde, some wear glasses some don’t and that is ok. So how do you explain “dis” ABILITIES you explain like this Some people voice box doesn’t work some do, some ears work some don’t and that is OK! Do this as much as you have to for your child to understand and they will be just fine when they see a child with a “dis” ABILITY.
The Sate of WI VS. T Clark/ Kristen Kaun
June of 2007 Tara went to see if she had Autism. I took her to 2 different doctors to be sure that there wasn’t a miss diagnosis. It came that Tara DOES also have ASD besides the CDCS. So in August 2007 I sent in the papers and the diagnosis that Tara has received by 2 different doctors. The county worker told me that the state was requesting more information… I ask like what and she said that she didn’t know just anymore information that would have to do with Tara. So I sent in what I had. So I wait about 1 month and call the county worker again. “No I haven’t heard anything yet”, So then I asked if I could call the state and talk with them directly to see what the “hold up is” and the County worker said no you cannot call them, I do not think that I can give that information out to you I will have to call and see if that is “allowed”. So I went and found all the people that work with the children services of the state of Wisconsin, and called and left messages until someone called me back. Then the county worker called me back (after I had already made about 10 calls). Then I did get a message from Katie (with the state of WI) and she says that they are looking at Tara’s file right now and we should have a decision in a week. So the week comes and goes and 3 weeks later I call all once again. Katie told me that the letter is on the way. 3 weeks later still no letter. So I waited till after the holidays were over (Christmas and New Years). So I made calls again to the state of WI to see what the hold up is. Well another doctor said that she does not have Autism (even though the doctor NEVER seen Tara nor did he ever diagnose her in person. He just read reports….. So then I asked to have it in writing and then I get the run around again. Finally I got pissed and called and called till Pam called me back and she told me that there is NO letter and it is not appealable. I REQUESTED/demanded a letter to be sent out to me stating everything that was being told to me. So they finally gave me a letter (by this time it is August of 2008) and the letter stated that Tara had a stroke and a bunch of other things that were not correct. So I picked it apart got what I needed and called Disability Rights of Wisconsin to see if they could help. They were not sure if they were going to take Tara’s case or not but they were in the “background” helping me through everything what the doctors needed to do etc…. Well 1 of the doctors (Dr. Hintz in Pewaukee WI) that diagnosed Tara said ” Who is going to pay me for doing this”? I was thinking to my self well you are the one that dx’d Tara you should have all this stuff and know this already…. Then The other Doctor (Dr. Lund) in Green Bay WI was ready and willing to get Tara what she needed and was more then willing to do what he needed to do. So I researched for many many weeks and many many hours for what I needed to PROVE that Tara was Autistic and she had the right to get everything that another child with ASD gets. So I appealed the decision since the letter said I could and the appeal date was set, but only for 15 minutes!!!! Can you believe that this complicated case and only have 15 minutes? So 3 days before I was to go to court I received a call from DRW (Disability rights of Wisconsin) Mitch said that he would take Tara’s case!!!!! I cried! I was so happy that I was able to get the help that was very much needed. Mitch was along for a good month and receiving everything that I have found etc… Then I receive another call from Mitch and he is asking for Tara’s appeal date to be moved due to the allotted time (was scheduled for 15 minutes on the 17th. So I said ok… So the new date was Scheduled for September 29th 2008 at 10:00 am but via phone conference. So put everything on hold as I felt that I had worn myself out of all my energy and everything I had. So I rested and other things were also happening that were affecting things in the household so I had to pull everything through….. So I was following Jeff ( he got laid off and we were taking the truck back to Menomonie we were in the middle of nowhere and I had no clue where I was, then my phone rang and I took the call. It was Mitch from DRW on the 22nd of September.
Mitch said I have some good news and I said ok, and he told me that the State of WI folded (meaning that Tara and I WON her case)!!!! I said MITCH I’M DRIVING RIGHT now and he said can you pull over and I said no because I’m not sure where I am at and I’m following Jeff to take his truck back, and he told me that he is going to give me the run down and to call him when I’m not driving anymore….. So I did, but in the mean time Tears were flowing like a waterfall, hard to see because I was so happy that all the hard work Dr Lund and I put into everything worked out for the best of Tara and her needs! So I texted messaged everybody that I could and I called everybody that I could and let them know the GREAT news! So the state of WI put it in writing that Tara was put on the waiting list as of September 12th 2007 and she should be receiving intensive in home therapy in less than 2 months!!!!! So we BEAT the ODDS once again! Now Tara will receive the therapy that she was to get her whole life so far! Now I am for sure that when I suspect something to go get it checked out and NEVER listen to anybody and their OPINIONS! Due to others opinions Tara would have lost this valuable therapy that she was entitled to in the first place from birth to 3 years. I’m sure that if she would have had this while she was way smaller that she would have made more progress then she has already. But that is ok because now I have the information and I can concentrate more on the issues at hand instead of trying to tackle it all at one time like I did in the past. 1 more year past with 2 major fights and 3 more years of information at least in my head, now to help others that may have been or going through my situation. So we are celebrating this special occasion September 5th 2008 for a Job well done to Dr Lund and his staff, Mitch for all his help and for Mom for all her VERY hard work well done!
October 6th 2008 After going through mediation and an agreement in place the Shawano School district is not doing what they are suppose to. They are not using the Picture communication so Tara can communicate her needs. Things are so frustrating because I have asked for 2 IEP meetings and the school district still has not granted 1; not even for communication and progress and for me to be able to explain to the school what we are doing at home to keep things consistent for Tara to make tons of progress. The CD teacher doesn’t even know how to teach Tara and she is asking me for advice but yet they still wont follow through with it.
March 11th 2009 Wow this has been a school year so far!
I have been forced to home school due to not having the money for a costly lawyer in time.
Since I am now home schooling (for 1.5 weeks now) both my children they are doing absolutely wonderful! Jonny knows what adjectives are, nouns, pronouns, verbs and their purpose, telling time, counting money, measuring, addition and subtraction facts, doing great in Science learning about all different animals, history, art, reading, proof-reading and correcting, Just everything. He is MUCH happier and so much less stressed. He works on his school work daily and enjoys learning new things and applying them and me quizzing him on what he has learned.
Tara has shown me that she for surly knows her colors (R, O, Y, G, B, I, V), shapes square, triangle, circle, Tara also knows how to write her name without help, using both hands to do 2 handed activities, dress herself with the exception of her socks and shoes, Tara is putting herself on the toilet and going all by herself, washing her hands all by herself, continues to feed herself, less negative behaviors, Sorting, imitation skills have also started to come out, she is also interacting with Jonny and other peers finally, her communication is coming along much better, she is using her sign language much more, and she is also using her picture communication pictures and getting a AAC device (Machine that has voice out put when Tara pushes a picture button, Tara is also able to listen and follow simple directions!
As you can see home schooling both my children has been nothing but a positive experience and in the best interest of both my children. I do feel bad though as I kept trying to fight the school system and not just home schooling my children at a much earlier time. We live and learn though and as long as we learn from our mistakes and try not to do them again is what is important. As a suggestion, if you are battling the school district you are in, don’t waste your child’s time, your time, energy and putting your child and your body through the tons of stress, SAVE your time, energy and Body and your child and just home school if at all possible. There are tons more opportunities for your child(ren) to learn the “natural” way =YOU! Children learn from the parent (s) in the first place, ever since they were born so just continue and reach out for help and advice if you need it.
Tara went in to the dentist and Jeff and I had to hold her down since she is still overly sensitive for anything to be in her mouth if she didn’t put it in. She did wonderful with us holding her down and letting the job get done. No cavities this time! Yay Tara!!!!!
Tara is on the trail basis for an AAC device. Not to sure how this is going yet but I’m sure that we will find a machine that best fits Tara and her needs. She does like using the trial one that she has however the pictures are different so it is a bit for her to get used to.
We went on our 2nd actual family vacation. It was a Blast! We all enjoyed our time away from our daily everything that goes on. We met a GREAT wonderful family that we have made friends with. We hope to keep the friendship growing. This was a great educational experience as well for the kids and they didn’t even know that they were learning! We went to the Crater of Diamonds, a place to look for diamonds. We didn’t find any but it was fun and educational. We also went to the Old Mill, the Military museum, Arkansas State capitol, searched for the Hot Springs but couldn’t find anything except for the town. We wanted to see the actual Hot Springs but instead ended up going on a scenic drive. Must see the photos AR is so beautiful but we MUST have the Air conditioning on while we were there or Tara would let us know it was a bit to warm for her unless she was outside in the water.
This year has been very busy for our family. February I had pulled both children from the public school; system as I didn’t need a crappy baby sitter for my kids for 7.5 hours per day esp. when they were not getting what they needed to get an education. Both children are now as stress free as they can get for the most part. They are much happier children and have grown to be closer. Tara also started her ABA therapy. It seemed to start out ok but then we came into troubles because I (Kristen) wanted to be more involved with Tara’s therapy and WEAP doesn’t do that until the child is about to go post intensive. I just wanted to be able to do carry over so it can be more effective for Tara. Therapists come and go due to not wanting to do what they needed to do for Tara’s safety, 1 got kicked out of the house since they thought that it would be ok to “go off” on me in my own house. Not happening! Another 1 was told “no cell phone can do therapy for Tara or Cell phone and no therapy for Tara” She chose to keep her cell phone. It seems as Tara is just a number and just a pay check. After asking to be involved for many months and we were told ” we do not allow parents to be in the therapy area at all during therapy only during the team meetings” we had enough esp. after the meeting with the county and then the therapists LIE in front of county and say different things. Not happening in our home either. Tara has mastered the use of PECS (picture exchange communication system) now someone that DOESN’T even know Tara is saying ” Tara has a hard time distinguishing between 2 different pictures” now let me fill you in a bit. They “tested” Tara with pictures that she has NEVER seen before nor will use for her communication and that is what they tested her for. To see if Tara will chose the correct picture for her communication. The pictures that Tara has MASTERED are the EXACT same pictures that are in her dynaVox. They keep saying that Tara doesn’t know this doesn’t know that but if they really knew Tara they would see that she IS making progress and Tara is a VERY smart girl. Just because Tara knows how to pull the carpet over their eyes, doesn’t mean that Tara can’t do it. Tara just shows what people expect of her. I expect MORE and demand MORE of Tara and Tara KNOWS it and she will do it! Tara is NOT a baby and she is VERY SMART! We will be looking for another provider that will PROVIDE the QUALITY therapy that we want for Tara and what Tara NEEDS. We MUST Be involved as we have been her whole life so far. We don’t accept anything less!
Tara has been doing great with her home schooling. She is making progress and LOVES to show off how much she knows. She is still a stinker at times, but I still wouldn’t change her for nothing. She cleans the table off after dinner, she is starting to sort silverware, she puts dirty laundry down the shoot, she is able to change her clothes by herself, she is continuing to feed herself and is working on feeding herself solid foods. She is doing great with feeding herself. For some reason though she thinks that the food off our plate tastes better so she likes to eat off our plates. Boy does that get Jonny MAD. Jonny says “Mom Tara is stealing my food again”! HA HA Siblings…
Jonny is doing GREAT with his home schooling and is LOVING it. He is absorbing everything that he should be plus much much more.
Tara has RECEIVED her OWN DynVox and LOVES it! It has greatly decreased the tantrums, meltdowns as it is her way of communication.
We will continue the fight for Tara as we ARE IN THE BEST INTEREST FOR TARA for THE REST OF HER LIFE. WE KNOW TARA THE BEST AND WILL KEEP IT THAT WAY!
Dec 2011 Well we are coming to the end part here of intensive therapy. Tara has 3 awesome therapists she has the perfect balance right now. Tara also started school and they literally handed out the services to Tara. I was AMAZED by how they are. Tara Loves it as she RUNS into school each day she is more than willing to get up and get going to school! She has made a friend her name is Raven. Tara recently got her hearing aid and she loves that also. She tries to wear it to bed at night. Tara’s bus driver told me that on the way Home Tara said “Mom” now I just need to hear it :) I wonder if she will hold back on me.? She has been watching my mouth BIG time when talking. I think she may start talking! I still have my hopes for her to talk and communicate what she wants needs and feels. Tara has a great Bond with Jonny and gives him hugs everyday multiple times a day. Tara LOVES to help clean and move furniture around while I am cleaning. Tara also has a great Bond with Dad (Jeff) when he is home she likes to keep him busy and gives Mom a break. Tara wrote her first note to us. I went to the neighbors house for a visit (Jonny was spending the night) and Jeff was busy doing something in the house. She got her marker and drew a car on the wall next to her heater that she LOVES to sit in front of. She went out in the car sat in her seat and had 2 seatbelts on. She was ready to go, she drew a note (which I need to let you know that it was her first legible picture that she drew! At least she knows that she has to ask and let us know where she is going….. Tara has been doing great with food and ate egg omelet and some toast! YAY FINALLY, but that was at school so hopefully she will bring that home and do it at home as well. Tara got an Ipad2 and she Loves it! She didn’t want anything to do with her Dynavox still to this day! So it just sits here getting dusty. Oh well maybe some day she will take to it. Tara is gaining daily skills and learning how to do daily tasks. She is making progress and it is beautiful to see! She is really starting to grow up (which is a bitter sweet) It is Sweet due to the fact that she wasn’t suppose to live past the age of 5! It is sweet because of all of the doctors that she is proving wrong! It is sweet because she is simply amazing to say the least! The reason it is bitter is because she is growing up so fast!
2009-2010 I pulled both my children out of the Public school system and I homeschooled both of them. My Son Jonny did much better and so did Tara. Jonny did the K12 WIVA program. Tara was denied because of her needs. So she was regular homeschooled. Both the kids grew and learned so much. They were able to both get their needs met above and beyond.
When we moved they both wanted to go to the public school. So I let them, they wanted to be by their peers and wanted to give school yet another try. Hey I can’t blame them in anyway.
2010-2011 Home schooled both of the kids. They made many gains and grew so much. I enjoyed it as I got to see right before my eyes the progress that they were making.
2011-2012 was the first year back for both of the kids to the public school system. We rolled with the punches. Wasn’t to bad but wasn’t good either. Tara started at 1.5 hours per day. By the time the end of the year came she was up to 1/2 day. Tara received her therapies the full time that she was at school and had no time for other opportunities. Jonny was suppose to be evaluated for a possible IEP. Bonduel School district told me that they do not test for LD or anything that would need an IEP. He did get extra help in his reading and math. However he hardly made any progress. Jonny wanted to try the next school year to see how he did and liked it.
2012-2013 Jonny Loved his teacher that he had and Yes I agree she was the best that he had so far. She spent extra time with him, enjoyed him, and understood him. No other licensed teacher did that with him before. If he would of had her this school year I know he would have stayed. This school year was horrible for Tara. She was not making any progress, they had no routine, in fact she regressed, started new behaviors that were never seen before, she wasn’t placed correctly (school had her listed as EARLY CHILDHOOD and in the state of WI that is not correct placement. How they got away with it was to fudge her placement by saying she was in the regular education 5th grade classroom as her homeroom yet she was barely ever in it. I had to fight for her to be included in the regular education classroom, be able to eat lunch with her regular education classroom, be in art, music and phy ed. I also had to fight for her to be able to go on any field trips that the class would take. They didn’t want to give her a 1:1 aide even for safety (Tara falls allot) . School was horrible for Tara. I fully pulled her out in February after I found out from the head of pupil services that the staff can not do their job because of me asking questions due to Tara’s new behaviors, and not making progress, regressing, why she couldn’t be with her regular education peers for the “easy” things listed above and why the IEP couldn’t be followed.
2013-2014 I will be homeschooling both the children yet again. Jonny wanted to do WIVA again as he likes that program much better. We are looking forward to moving forward and the kids getting an education that they deserve and need. Tara will be regular homeschooled. She will be relearning the skills that were mastered before she went into the public school system, behavior management, daily skills training, and to be more independent.
IF YOU HAVE A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS SHAWANO SCHOOL DISTRICT, Clintonville, or Bonduel School District IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE!!!! THEY DO NOT FOLLOW THE IEP and IDEA, section 504, NCLB, or state/federal regulations . THEY ARE ONLY CONCERNED ABOUT BUDGET!!