One mom’s story advocating for her son

Thinking back to 1997. In May of ’97, I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with my Master’s degree in School Psychology. I was also 6 months pregnant with my first son. He is now 24 years old and a graduate of a SUNY College. After my son was born in August of 1997, I had a decision to make. Do I stay home with him, or do I start my career as a School Psychologist? I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my newborn and going off to work. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be able to stay home to raise my son. I quickly noticed that his developmental milestones were delayed. I was very familiar with the timelines of developmental milestones in children, as I studied this for a total of 7 years between my undergraduate and graduate degrees. At 3 months old, my son could not roll over or lift his head when laying on his stomach. At 6 months, he would fall over if he wasn’t supported while sitting. At that point, my concerns were significant. I brought my son to see the pediatrician and told the doctor about my concerns. The doctor said, “Let’s wait and see how he progresses.” I was not pleased with his response. I knew something was wrong. We then switched practices, and the new doctor also said, “Let’s wait and see.” In less than 2 years, we were on our fourth pediatrician. Bingo!! We stayed with this doctor until my son went off to college. So, I’m going to take a few steps back to his first year of life.

My son was displaying developmental delays across the board. Lifting his head, rolling over, sitting up unassisted, walking, and language. At 18 months, I called the county Early Intervention (EI) program to have him evaluated. My son received a full evaluation at 2 years old which included a cognitive measure, speech evaluation, occupational therapy evaluation, and a physical therapy evaluation. He qualified for all the services just mentioned. My son received all of his services at home. At 3 years old, he began nursery school at a local co-op. I decided on the co-op so I could be involved there. He continued to receive all his related services. At 4 years old, it was evident to me that my son needed a full day, 5 days per week inclusive preschool program. He would then receive all of his services at school with both push-in and pull-out therapies, while also being exposed to the general population at the school. The program I found was over 20 miles from our home, so he would need bussing. The district did not agree that my son needed that specific program. At the Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) meeting, we decided to bring an attorney because of the district’s hesitancy to provide the program that he needed. The CPSE agreed to everything I asked for, and the attorney didn’t need to say a word. Long story short, my son continued to receive Special Education services throughout his school career. He graduated from college in 2020, and is working at a large Media firm in Atlanta Georgia!