Blessings of IDEA
I wanted to share with you something that happened Friday afternoon that reminded me how truly blessed we are in our country. Friday afternoon I was called down to the reception area at Region 4 because a parent was there asking to speak to someone. I was a bit surprised because we get very few parents just dropping by Region 4. I went down and found a young man, probably in his 20’s, sitting in the waiting area. I could tell that he was a bit nervous because the stack of papers he had in his hand was shaking.
When I asked how I could help him, he said that he had recently moved to Houston from China because of his job. He has a 5-year-old daughter and a wife in China that he plans to bring to Houston. When he started to talk about his daughter, tears came to his eyes. He said that she was not speaking and that they suspected that she may be autistic. This young man was here to ask me about clinics that could evaluate her and schools that would accept her because she was disabled.
I watched the worry leave his face as I told him about the services of public schools . . . that his daughter could have an evaluation for FREE; that she would be allowed to be educated in the public school for FREE; and that if she qualified, she would receive special education services for FREE! He kept asking things like, “She can be in the school that other kids are in—not a different school?” . . . ”We don’t have to pay for the evaluation?” I could tell that this was quite a shock to him . . . a very pleasant shock!
When I gave him my card, he held my hand longer than would be expected and looked up at me with tears. Of course, I can’t personally take responsibility for passing IDEA, but I sure was proud to help implement it!!
Most of us have worked under IDEA (or PL 94-142) for most or all of our professional careers. Sometimes we take for granted how truly groundbreaking the legislation was at the time and what amazing opportunities it has made for individuals with disabilities. All we have to do is look around at other countries to see where we might be without such powerful laws.
Thank you for the services you provide to support our students. They are truly blessed to have both the law and YOU!!!