Many parents and caregivers are learning for the first time what an individualized educational plan or IEP is used for.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s been quite scary for me. Each time I enter these meetings I feel just as anxious as the last. Somehow wondering if I’ve done enough to make sure educators and support staff know everything they can to ensure my son is safe and cared for to be able to learn in his own way.
I for one, have at times, felt in the dark and powerless in what has gone into my sons IEP.
It has taken several years for me to discover parents and caregivers have a lot of say in what goes into these plans.
Things to keep in mind when looking over your IEP and heading into a meeting:
1. Write a list of issues that you feel are important.
2. Prepare your own questions and items to address.
3. To be prepared for the process, request the school provide you with evaluations, proposed goals, objectives, and placement recommendations prior to the meeting.
4. Written notice of the IEP meeting will include a list of participants. If you’d like a speech therapist (or any other person) who works with your child there regularly that is your right.
5. Keep in mind this year may look differently and may be a virtual meeting.
You can request a meeting to discuss an IEP at any time. If you feel it is not being followed, speak up and put it in writing, this is important. There is a legal obligation to follow an IEP.
My name is Noah. I am almost 16 years old. I will be getting my drivers license this winter.
I have four cats and two dogs. My favourite pet is Arwyn (cat). I love spending time with her because she’s very cuddly and she makes me feel calm. When I was 5 years old I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome with ADHD. If I could explain to my neighbours what it’s like having Autism, I would tell them it’s been hard making friends and I feel overwhelmed when I have too many things to try and focus on at one time.
Autism has also been good for me because I’m very smart and am really good at things that I’m interested in, like computers and hockey. Since we were able to have an early diagnosis and intervention, I have been able to work towards better social skills and learning how to push myself out of my comfort zones.
A lot of people do not realize I’m ASD but it doesn’t mean I still don’t have struggles every day. The day can be extra exhausting trying to keep myself together for other people. This is why I enjoy alone time. In my spare time I like to play games on my phone, draw and play hockey. I have been a house league goalie for Napanee Stars for about 7 years. I prefer to do things alone but sometimes I enjoy hanging out with friends.
Something about myself I would like to share is that I have awesome curly hair and usually like having it long. In a few years, I hope to go to college and have a career in Computer Technologies.
Special mention goes out to Becky Hinch Photography, for making these portraits possible. By contributing her time and talent in such an amazing way this campaign allowed us to raise awareness of ASD in a beautiful way. Thank you for making our community a better place!
If you want to see more of her great work, check out the Facebook link attached below.
When it was first announced back in July, Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum caused a big stir in the autistic community. The show follows a group of young adults on the spectrum as they navigate the world of relationships and dating. While these things are challenging for neurotypicals, they can be even more so for people on the spectrum. How would the show’s producers treat their subjects? Would they present a balanced and realistic view? Or would it be overly sentimental to the point of being saccharine?
As part of Autism Ontario’s broader initiative to examine how autistic people are portrayed in the media, we assembled a focus group of adults on the spectrum to review Love on the Spectrum. The group consisted of self-advocates Aaron Lenc, an employee of the City of Brampton; Matthew Lemay, professional writer; Courtney Weaver, freelance writer; and, David Moloney Autism Ontario Board Member. Michael Cnudde, self-advocate and Specialist Communications and Project Development, Autism Ontario, moderated the panel. Aaron’s mother, Tania White was also present.
“I was enthusiastic about it when I first heard about it,” says Courtney Weaver. “There are unfortunate stereotypes that autistic people are incapable of romantic love, or just don’t want romantic love. It was interesting to debunk this stereotype.”
Aaron Lenc looked forward to the show for another reason. “I really liked this show because I want a girlfriend, but I want to learn how to date. I learned from it and it was a good start.”
Other panelists commented on the presence of Jodi Rogers, a relationship expert who works with people on the on the spectrum on the show and provided guidance and support where it was needed.
“I personally really liked Jodi. I have worked with people like her in the past,” said Matthew Lemay. “I feel like the general population thinks that after a certain age people with autism don’t need help, and that’s not necessarily true. She was a wonderful addition to the show as she was able to bridge the gap between what people were needing.”
The idea of having someone acting as mentor is important, said David Moloney. “They need to proceed with the utmost of care, and really listen to the people they are profiling.”
“I thought it was easy to watch, refreshing, and the candidness of the participants on the show was so good,” said Courtney. “I laughed out loud when one of the established couples said, ‘When it comes to the two of us as a couple, I am fire, and he is water. When we are together it gets steamy.’
Aaron found the series very accessible. He watched all five episodes first by himself, and again with his family. “We paused and talked about what was happening,” said Aaron’s mother Tania White. “That was very helpful and a great resource for us as a whole family.”
Each panel member seemed to have their own favourite cast member. For Matthew it was Michael, whom he expressed a kinship for. “I had a few that I liked… I enjoyed Jimmy and Shenae. They were cute as a couple and their experience was lovely. It made me teary.”
“My favourite person in the show was Olivia Sharp,” said Courtney. “When she said, ‘Living on the spectrum was like living in a transparent box.’ Mentioning that barrier between people was an astute observation.”
Aaron found the show very relatable. “I liked Kelvin because his autism was like mine, he noted. “I hope there is a second season.”
All the participants agreed the series was worthy of another season and hoped its producers would expand its cast to make it more diverse to include Black, Indigenous and people of colour as well as more LBGTQIA2S+ representation.
A second season would be especially useful, said Aaron’s mother Tania because it might also explore understanding rejection and picking up social cues. “Even being able read the cues so it doesn’t cross the line when experiencing rejection is a necessary skill.”
An issue for many portrayals of autistics in the media was inclusion, fairness, and realism, which the panelists discussed. “I agree that people were portrayed fairly,” said Courtney. “With the genre of reality TV, there is a certain narrative and 1:1 interviews and editing take place within this genre. This was done as organically as you can do this.”
Matthew agreed with Courtney, adding, “There are certain editing and narrative decisions in a show that are unavoidable, but people were treated and portrayed as organically and fairly as possible.”
It is important for producers and writers to listen to people on the spectrum, said David when portraying people with autism. “Often people cast individuals who aren’t representing people on the spectrum as they should be…We should be represented as diverse, appreciated, hard-working, welcomed in society, and enhancing the social framework. Inclusion everywhere.”
In the midst of all that’s happening around the world right now, we still have so much to be grateful for. Thanks to your generosity and support, our network and events have continued to make an impact in the lives of people living with ASD.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! The team at the Autism Network Lennox & Addington County. (LACAN)
We couldn’t be more excited about Jocelyn joining our team as an associate member with LACAN.
Jocelyn might appear to be young but don’t judge a book by its cover! Jocelyn has gained great amount of inspiration during her experiences being a dance teacher.
It was here when she learned valuable lessons while working with children. She had a strong sense for a greater need for inclusion of children living with barriers and exceptionalities.
Jocelyn worked at Kool Kamp held at Children and Family Services in Napanee, where she was inspired by each and every child she worked with. Kool Kamp is geared towards inclusion and providing supports for persons with exceptionalities to experience summer camps.
This experience lead Jocelyn to become a respite worker with Children’s Aid Services, as well as in personal residences.
Jocelyn recognizes that with every child, comes new needs, and she believes in fostering a supportive environment, with positivity, for an individual to flourish.
Jocelyn is entering her 4th, and final year of her bachelor of fine arts in dance (honours degree) with a concentration in dance education at York University. She has also earned her certification in crisis prevention and intervention, which is an asset to our organization.
Jocelyn shares her experiences of witnessing children who could fall victim of the injustices of our systems, she hopes to further her education with a master’s degree in disability studies and be an advocate for change.