Apr 8, 2017

Stamping for Autism Awareness (and a Soapbox on Graduation)

So happy to receive an invitation from Veronica Zalis to participate in a blog hop to raise awareness for autism. Spent a fair amount of my career working on special education law, so it's a topic near and dear.

You can find Veronica's post about the blog hop here.  Here's my card.

 Since I don't have any kid themed stamps (what's wrong with that?) I decided to use this wonderful quote from an old Technique Tuesday Stamp set, Loving Words. Painted a blue and white background, using an easy technique that I saw on Kymona's blog. You can find her directions here.

I used white and blue gouache paints, let them dry, and embossed the sentiment in white. The sentiment came out a little wonky, but I've decided it goes with the mixed media idea. The nice thing about gouache is that, unlike watercolors, there is no need to add water and if you don't go crazy, plain cardstock will not warp.

Soapbox on Children with Disabilities and High School Diplomas

If you live in the US, and want more information about the services to which your child is entitled, a good place to start is the US. Department of Education's website. You can find information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from that agency here.

The IDEA provides critical special education and related services to approximately 12-15% (varies by State) of students. Many of these children have autism or are considered to be "on the spectrum." Personally, I think we have a long way to go before we will really understand autism and all of its variations (however, we do know that there is no scientific data linking autism to vaccines). In the meantime, it's up to parents to be informed and to advocate for what they believe is best for their kids.

You may be very happy with the education and services your kid is getting now, but keep your eye on the end game -- it is never too early to think about what will happen when your child is no longer a child. While the IDEA provides for transition services (services to assist in the transition from high school to college, other training, or employment), those services do not kick in until late in the game.

While many children with disabilities go on to college, most do not. This is in part because the high school graduation rate for children with disabilities is around 63%, which is shockingly low.  These graduation rates are supposed to include only kids who graduate with a regular high school diploma. However, more and more States are adopting "special" diplomas, and including kids who graduate with a special diploma in the graduation rate (it's my view that that is why you see so many stories about the increase in graduation rates.) So, this means that 37% of kids with disabilities are not finishing high school with any diploma (in some States the rates are much worse). 

It's important for parents to know about the options for their kids. Suggest you find out what the graduation rate for children with disabilities is in your State. Ask, before high school begins, whether your child is on a path to receive a "regular" high school diploma or a special diploma. It is important to make sure you understand the implications before agreeing to a particular curriculum. For example, will a special diploma permit your child to enter the military or be accepted by colleges? You may conclude that a special diploma is the perfect option for your child, given his or her particular circumstances.

However, if you believe that your child is capable of receiving a regular high school diploma, advocate for it, and for any necessary supports and services that will help your child achieve that goal. It is hard, but I believe that the majority of kids with disabilities are capable of receiving a regular high diploma -- if they get the special education and related services to which they are entitled. But, if you wait until your child is already in high school before planning, you may unnecessarily limit your child's options.

MOOD WHEN DONE - Soapbox out!


Tracie Pond said...

Fantastic card, Joan!!! The background and sentiment are amazing =)

Tenia Nelson said...

I so LOVE this card, Miss Lady!! Thanks so much for posting the IDEA info too!!! Thanks for joining us today!!!

conil said...

Elegant...that vibrant blue is a feast for the eyes...and the sentiment...NEED that sentiment.

Lieve said...

I love your card, a real eye-catcher ! - thank you for the link
The sentiment not perfectly stamped on the card ? Fits just perfect for the ocasion - no one is perfect, so the sentiment is !
Warm greetings from Belgium.

Teresa Doyle said...

A great card Joan and good advice.

Dana said...

My jaw dropped at seeing this card Joan. It's truly lovely. Thank you also for sharing your soapbox. I am inspired to research what my state's graduation rates are now.

Leslie Miller said...

I didn't know you don't use water with gouache paints. Interesting. A brilliant, rich blue, and the sentiment looks like it's meant to be exactly how it is. Fits perfectly with the background. Thanks, also, for getting on your soapbox for autism. I have friends with children or grandchildren growing up with autism and Down's. It's a lot to deal with and the more help and info, the better.

Susan Raihala said...

Well, you CAN use water with gouache...you just don't HAVE to.

Susan Raihala said...

Joan, stunning card aside, your post is timely for me. We have Jack's transition to high school meeting in two weeks. We also have an intake interview with our county board of developmental disabilities to get him on the waiting list for a job mentoring/placement program, which has a two-year waiting list. I also need to fill out his application for some benefit that has a waiting list 800 people long that he won't eligible for for 7 years. I burn out on all this occasionallly and take an autism vacation, but it's full steam ahead right now.

I will be asking the question about what kind of diploma Jack will receive...and how many years he will have to earn it. We've had to face in the past two years the fact that Jack, even with the supports our school system provides, won't get the same diploma his brother will get. He is now on alternate assessment for the single reason that his math is six grade levels behind. His reading is only 2 grade levels behind, but the math means he has to have alternate assessment for EVERYTHING, which just sucks. His alt assessment scores are below proficient for math and advanced for reading. This makes no sense to me but it's the law that alt assess applies across the board. So I fought long and hard and seriously pissed off his intervention specialist to get Jack into a more advanced reading intervention teacher's classroom. THAT teacher is so glad I fought for Jack, as she's seen awesome growth in him as a reader...growth that I'm convinced would not have happened in the resource room he attends for math. But I still get snarky comments from the math IS who is inconvenienced by having a student who doesn't see her for both reading and math. Grrr.

Anyway, to anyone reading your post who doesn't have to deal with this stuff, it's real, it's hard, and it's frustrating. People like Joan who have fought for and served our special education children are HEROES to the parents of those children. Thank you, Joan, for your career and for continuing to advocate for these amazing children who learn differently and with so much more struggle than others can imagine.

And the abstract quality of your card, the gorgeous shades of blue, and the sentiment all work perfectly to honor those with autism and their families. LOVE it!

Nazeema Calypso Thompson said...

Joan- Stunning card!!! Love the mixed media look... You achieved it very well and that sentiment speaks volume!!! Great advice!! Thank you for all that you have done to help and advocate for children and their parents.