Yesterday, I got a call from an OT worker at CISS wanting to just give me a courtesy call to tell me that Alex is going to be discharged from their services at the end of this year.
Um, excuse me?
They've promised to send home a bunch of material for me to look at, including Alex's progress reports and the discharge criteria but as I understand it, basically the standards seem to be: we've provided help for awhile and thus the teachers should have all the tools they need to continue to help him.
As much as I can agree with the policy that the role of the OT consultant should be to provide support and training about the individual student's needs, I have some problems with this particular scenario. (I'll be waiting until I get the paperwork to confirm that I've understood it all correctly, but I'm not encouraged by what was shared yesterday.)
1) We've gotten very little communication and support from the OT team thus far and we were apparently supposed to be receiving at-home exercises and workbooks. Now, I didn't have a problem with this as long as the OT was an active presence in the classroom and Alex was making progress. Granted, I've been told what tools have been requested, but I don't know which requests were fulfilled or how they're being used within the classroom.
2) Alex's actual progress is not taken into account. The message seems to be "we've taught what we came to teach" and it doesn't matter if Alex has actually learned it. This was reinforced when I asked if they would return if Alex continued to have problems and was told that, once discharged, they would no longer provide any support for his fine motor skills, eating or toileting. They will only return if he is referred for a new problem.
3) They didn't seem to realize that Alex will only be at his current school for this year and next year. After that, he will be moved to another program, which means an entirely new set of teachers and aides, who apparently will not get any OT support from them. I've been told it will be my responsibility to ensure Alex is getting the tools and support he needs, something that will be difficult since I've been kept in the dark about what specific support he is currently getting.
This is incredibly frustrating. I was initially told that CISS would support Alex throughout his entire school life and now the message has changed. The person who called me said there have been a number of changes due to reorganization but when I asked if a new agency would be taking over, the answer was vague and sounded a lot like a delicate "no".
The system of support for autism needed an overhaul but I'm irritated that the current approach seems to be to remove services without any plan or information about replacing them. This now gets to be one more fight I have to deal with and frankly, it's a fight I can't really win, because even if I somehow force them to stay, I can't also force them to do a good job.