Substitute Teaching: Special Ed (PPHS 3.3)

(Sharpie)

Today was an interesting day. Yes, we had Ty’s birthday and yes, Eric made a mess of things (he kept snatching other people’s cake . . .erm, cupcakes and ice cream). The class, however, was a half-day and the rest of the time we had a micro-training. Since I was there already and that I was being paid for a full day, they asked me to stay and participate.

The principal decided to sneak around government red-tape and have four agencies come and give presentations. The reason the meeting was so subversive, is that these agencies are not normally allowed to communicate with each other. For some reason this lack of communication makes government more efficient. There were three local agencies (Wasatch Mental Health, Independence High School {IHS: a school for juvenile delinquents and pregnant teens}, and the Utah County Health Department) and a state agency (DSPD: Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities). These three local agencies gave presentations about what they do (the Health Department also talked about how to prevent Blood Borne Pathogens) and then the DSPD rep gave her presentation.

DSPD does the following:

  • Manages the State Support-Work-Independence (SWI) program.
  • Manages the State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program.
  • Provides Community Service Brokers.
  • Coordinates the wait-list for each of these programs.
  • Lobbies the State Legislature for more funds to assist adults with disabilities.
These programs:
  • Provide Family Training and Support.
  • Provide Supported Employment.
  • Provide Day Programs.
  • Provide Supported Living.
  • Provide Supervised Community Living.
  • Provide Residential Alternatives.
  • Provide Personal Assistance.

Basically, they are the people with money and the ones who will take the students I’ve been subbing for after they turn twenty-two. Ty, Cameron and Joel turned twenty-one today. None of them are able to live independently and Ty needs nearly 24/7 attention. Their parents are in their sixties.

The reason the three state agencies were actually there is because none of them knew what DSPD did. IHS has a number of kids who might be autistic, but the families are so indigent they don’t know or sometimes don’t care what their child’s problems are. Wasatch Mental Health is involved in all the county schools and knows of hundreds of learning and intellectually challenged kids who don’t get any help. The County Health Department sees all the illegal-aliens come through are supposed to help people find state support–Jesus and Moni are students referred to PPHS.

None of them knew of DSPD and the legislature is thinking of cutting DSPD funding because of lake of participation. Now, I like the idea of limited government, but some programs are needed. I do not want to go back to the days when adults with the disabilities were deserted or corralled into sanitariums where they were ignored.

The stupid thing about what happens is either ignorance of the needs in the community or active opposition within government. Both IHS and Wasatch Mental Health relayed stories about how they tried to reach out to get funding to be told by their superiors or politicians that there were no such programs or such programs had been defunded years ago. The DSPD rep said there were elements in the Utah political community who actively fight DSPD with the philosophy that disabled adults must be cared for by their families and if families are too poor, then they chose poverty instead of hard work so too bad. I know these ignorant opinions personally. I delayed education and career to raise my kids by myself. People in church or neighborhood said I chose to be poor, instead of seeing I chose to care for my kids. This is the same situation Ty’s parents are in. They could have done what Eric’s parents did and simply turn their children over to state institutional-care as children, instead they chose the hard path.

Today was a big day for me. I now have to decide what I’m gonna do with the info I learned. I didn’t know about DSPD either.

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