Reasons to tell Jack Jack’s Journey

Parenting. It is the most difficult job on the planet. Parenting a child with special needs adds to the challenge.

Your situation may be similar to ours. Or it may differ from ours, either by a little or a lot. What we have in common is a love and commitment to our children. Including interceding for and, when necessary, fighting for their rights as provided within the education system.

When parents drop their children off at the front door of the school, we do so with the expectation that teachers, staff and administration will do right by them. We expect those responsible for educating our children to utilize all available resources to help them reach their God-given potential. When this doesn’t happen because of oversight or ignorance, it’s frustrating. When it doesn’t happen because of purposeful negligence, political convenience, or plain laziness, it is maddening.

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
– Jane D. Hull

There is no more important job than parenting. This I believe.

– Dr. Ben Carson

Jack’s story is his own. Yet we know he’s not alone. Our purpose in telling his story is to share what we’ve learned over years of battling a system too often more concerned with appearance than actual results. A system often too lazy to take the required steps to benefit the students entrusted to it.

As we advocate for our child, we realize many parents are unaware of their rights as provided and outlined in local, state and federal education law. It’s our desire to share what we’ve learned in hopes of helping you navigate an educational system that is anything but user friendly.

If in sharing our experience we help even one parent secure the services necessary for the proper education of their child, our time will be well spent.

* Disclaimer – The information contained here is not intended to be legal advice. Please seek professional qualified counsel for your particular situation.

Jack’s Story

We are, each one of us, unique in all the world. That’s what makes the sharing of common experiences so rich. We each one see, hear, and feel the common experience differently. Life’s flavors flow from our unique perspectives within a shared humanity.

Jack is the same as you and I. Yet, like you and I, he’s different. Born a twin, his life was that of any toddler until, at age 3 1/2, he was mauled by a dog. Multiple gashes and lacerations to his face, neck and head required extensive surgery to repair the wounds. The doctors stopped counting at 200 stitches.

To see photos of this horrific attack brings tears. To see his beautiful face now is to thank God and the amazing skills of surgeons.

While Jack’s scars have healed, the attack caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI). On a plane flight in March of 2013, Jack suffered a Grand Mal seizure. During medical testing two weeks later, he suffered another seizure. Over the next year, we as Jack’s parents and his doctors searched for answers. Extensive testing, including MRI’s and EEG’s, concluded there were no organic causes such as brain tumors or degenerative brain conditions.

Prior to the dog attach, Jack’s development was normal. There were no apparent learning issues. After the attack we as Jack’s parents noticed changes in his demeanor and behavior. Given the traumatic nature of the attack, this was not surprising. In the two year window between the dog attack and Jack’s first seizure, issues like stuttering and increased impulsive behavior. Further testing ruled out autism, a fact that would later be significant in Jack’s story.

Early in his kindergarten year, Jack was given a reading inventory. Surprisingly, he excelled in certain areas that had not yet been taught. Yet his comprehension score was low. His hand writing and coloring skills were age-appropriate.

By first grade these skills had regressed. Further assessments showed Jack could perform very well when he knew what was expected of him. It was about this time Jack’s teacher observed that he often seemed “foggy” and “confused”, and would often be frustrated in the classroom. Testing and assessments showed Jack could be “hit and miss” with a wide disparity in his grades. All these pointed to Jack’s struggles to effectively learn in the classroom.

As time passed we diagnosed critical issues in Jack’s ability to process and comprehend information. We knew with the proper tools and strategies, Jack could learn. He had proven that.

Certainly Jack isn’t alone. Many students have learning challenges. Once Jack’s, or any student’s, issues are identified the conversation redirects to “how does the school address my child’s learning challenges?” If the school does what they are legally and morally obligated to do, tremendous progress can be made. Students learn how to learn. Relationships are strengthened and the child experiences forward momentum and a building of confidence. Most important, students realize their full potential.

When the school does not do what they are legally and morally required to do, nothing good happens. Students become increasingly frustrated and discouraged. Parents are left to wonder what, if anything, is being done to help their child learn. Relationships between student and teacher, parents and school district, are strained. Worst of all, the student does not progress in their educational or emotional development.

All the while, the clock is ticking. Time passes and the student gets older while making little or no progress in the classroom. Because all learning builds on what came before, a student can quickly fall behind.

This website is the result of our battles with Jack’s schools to do what is legally and morally right. We’ve learned through hard experience that what should be done often is not done. Either due to ignorance, laziness, convenience, or politics, too often the student’s needs are not properly served.

As a parent, I know my child. It’s my responsibility to advocate for my child whenever it is necessary and appropriate. Yet the river of school policies, state and national regulations, and educational law can be overwhelming. This website is intended to help you navigate. Here you will find resources and tips to you help you understand the process of advocating for your student.

The clock is ticking. Time is of the essence. Knowing what to do and knowing what your rights are will help you make the most of your interactions with your child’s school and quicker get them the help they require.