My autistic son was Baker Acted the first day of middle school.

I was stuck in the high school car loop picking up my oldest when I got a call from the middle school guidance counselor: please come immediately to help with my son.

I sent my husband, and as I was pulling into my driveway to drop off my daughters, received a cryptic text from my husband: “Call me now. He’s being baker acted.”

What?

My 12 year old son has a sweetness to him, despite his preteen reluctance to shower and anxiety in crowds. He thrives on routine and consistency; clear expectations and quiet.

We knew middle school would be hard. Even elementary school wasn’t easy for him, but we had a great team of people who knew and loved him. We had developed an effective IEP and communicated it at a “roll up meeting” with both his current elementary school team and the middle school guidance counselor.

Most neurotypical adults I know don’t have fond memories of middle school. It’s an awful age, socially and physically.

So we worked to prepare our son.

We walked his schedule on an empty middle school campus. We asked to meet with guidance before school started. We took our son to middle school registration and orientation. We met up with a friend and her son who would also be at the middle school.

He was excited to start fresh at a new school. He would be riding the school bus for the first time!

He made it through the first 3 periods. Lunch was confusing, chaotic, and loud. Long lines made it difficult for him to acquire his lunch. We had packed snacks in case this happened. He was invited to sit at a computer by the guidance counselor but was overwhelmed and declined.

He never ate lunch. Drank water. Or remembered his snacks.

He was confused and lonely. He was hungry.

He visited the guidance counselor, who chose not to call us.

He went to class and at the end of the day he’d had enough.

He began scratching his arm (he does this when he’s upset–it’s common for children with autism to do this). He was removed from the classroom because this is inappropriate behavior.

He said “I just want to kill myself so I don’t have to go to school.”

Not a great phrase.

We’ve begged him not to say that.

He says it like a teenager might say “OMG! I’d just DIE if that happened.”

He doesn’t have pragmatic language skills. Which is noted in his school file.

He doesn’t have access to weapons. He is supervised in our home. And he is not suicidal.

However.

The new school resource officer overheard and decided to Baker Act our child. Without context. Without questioning his stress level or mental abilities.

The guidance counselor chose not to get involved. He chose not to implement the functional behavior plan on file. He chose to delay contacting us. He chose not to prepare the teachers and staff who would be interacting with our child.

He disregarded everything outlined in the IEP.

Because of his laissez faire approach, my son suffered.

I pulled up to this brand new to us school. And watched in horror as my confused son stepped into the back of a police car.

I followed them for 45 minutes until we got to an inpatient psychiatric center.

I learned our doctor couldn’t release him from the Baker Act. I asked what to sign so that I could take my child home. I begged to stay with him.

Instead I was asked for my insurance card because we have to pay for unwanted, unneeded, unauthorized inpatient overnight care and evaluation.

I was told I had no power and they could do whatever they deemed necessary for my son.

My son said “What?! I say that all the time!”

I answered, “And this is why we tell you NOT to say that. ”

He exclaimed, “OK OK! I get it! Can we go now?”

“No, buddy. I am not in charge now. I can’t fix this.”

He looked at me with terror-filled eyes as the reality of his situation materialized.

In what world is a mother unable to make decisions for her child?

I made it as easy as possible for my child. I asked him to think of it like going to summer camp. I gave him a picture of our family. I gave him a snack while we waited.

We didn’t see him again until 19 hours later.

Our beloved doctor had to discharge us from care because he was Baker Acted and it’s now out of scope for her.

We owe thousands of dollars for his care.

We do not know where our child can safely learn.

Our daughters didn’t get to share about their own first days of school.

We lost sleep. We lost trust in the school, in law enforcement and in our society. We are embarrassed and lost.

Now we are spending our weekend redeeming our son from the inpatient facility and combing over his IEP and paperwork to prepare for an emergency meeting with his school. Because accountability is important to us. And we need a plan documented for his future even if he doesn’t return there.

Anyone know a good lawyer?

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86 thoughts on “My autistic son was Baker Acted the first day of middle school.”

  1. So very sad, and frustrating! If online school could be an option for your son, see if you can find a Connections Academy school in your state!!! It’s free in most states and at CA, “different” is valued and even encouraged!

    1. Online school seriously.. the lack of accountability. The Lack of people at their child’s school is unacceptable.
      They should feel like school is capable of doing their jobs.. you really should wonder if they failed this student and didn’t meet his health needs. Who else are they letting down. What else are they failing as a school to do for a child.. Don’t suggest online school.

  2. Might I suggest taking a formal complaint to your son’s guidance counselor’s bosses, the school administrators? And following up with complaints to the school district’s administration? And any state oversight board/commission?

    Because my aunt, the retired Jr/High School principal would be reading 10 kinds of riot acts to that guidance counselor. Not the least bit of an exaggeration.

    Reach out to any disability advocacy groups you can that specialize in kids and/or involuntary care issues, if you haven’t already. Put them on speed dial. Get ready to be “those parents” that everyone dreads hearing from. Because that much absolute incompetence on the first day? Dollars to donuts, that’s gonna be a fight all year long.

      1. I am “that parent” too and I will never, ever feel bad or awkward about it. If they won’t willingly do what needs to be done then I will be in their faces until they do and I have no shame about it. I don’t nit pick, I don’t sweat the small stuff but when it’s something like this? I hope we’re all “those parents”.

    1. None of those steps would do any good with out school board here in brevard county. It’s a joke. And I have been through something very similar to this at the end of last year!

    2. I agree and the resource officer’s supervisor/local police chief because he needs some extra training or reassignment if he Baker Acts kids over stuff like this without consulting professionals at school. But the counselor dropped the ball big time and should have briefed the SRO before/at the start of the day.

    3. Also, contact your State ADA board and file a complaint as the school definitely violated many acts under this act.

  3. I would so be calling Morgan and Morgan…especially with THIS much documentation around him. And you better believe…it wouldn’t be about “For the People”, it would turn into “For the MONEY!”

  4. This is NOT okay. As a former teacher in this county, I am embarrassed. I don’t know for sure if this is within his realm, but John Vernon Moore, PA is a SHARK in the courtroom. He’s amazing at what he does. Reach out to him and see if he can help. You’d be in great hands. http://www.jmoorelegal.com

  5. Omg I can’t beleive that!! Makes me scared to even think of sending my son to middle school. We’re already having issues in 6th grade! One of the teachers made fun of him today and I’m looking into what to do about it before I step into the front office tomorrow. It’s unacceptable!
    Try calling the family liaison project
    “Family Liaison Project (FLP)
    The mission of the Family Liaison Project (FLP) is to build an active network of support to nurture and sustain families of children with disabilities through life’s transitions. The FLP encourages families to look at the future of their children emerging as productive adults living independently. The Family Liaison Project is located at Johnson Middle School, 2155 Croton Road, Melbourne, FL 32935.
    http://www.familyliaisonproject.com
    (321) 242-6430 x 5002”
    They help for free. Good luck!

    1. I am sorry to hear your child is having issues in sixth grade. I experienced a teacher like that when I was in sixth grade. She was one of those “popular” teachers who was loved merely because she didn’t teach us anything.

      One day, she asked me to clean out my desk. The classroom was very noisy, and she became irate with me when I didn’t instantly respond to her demand because I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I never told my mother because I was sure nothing would have been done.

  6. I am heartbroken and horrified that this happened! I also have an autistic son. My heart hurts for all of you. 😢

    Please contact news stations, and get this story in the public eye. You prepped beforehand more than most would have done, and you have an IEP and documentation. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT!

    This madness needs to stop and our kids deserve better than this. I know it is all painful and traumatizing and your focus is on your family right now, but please let that mama bear out to fight. For your boy, and mine, and for all of the other sons and daughters who need to be heard. ❤️ You are on my heart and in my prayers today.

  7. Wow, so sorry to hear this happened.

    Once the Baker Act is in play, you might as well be some rando on the street until the process is finished. Essentially, once it hits that point, they need a professional opinion that the patient is not a danger or a judicial order.

    As for the school, I would go up the chain to the Principal (and start there), district administration. I would also contact the FL Dept. of Education Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (http://www.fldoe.org/academics/exceptional-student-edu/). You might also contact your state rep and senator and see if their constituent services people can make recommendations.

    The State Bar referral service is here: http://www.fldoe.org/academics/exceptional-student-edu/. For the legal area, look for School Law – Education. You should ask what your chances are to make the school pay for the costs around this, since they ignored his IEP and went straight to Baker Act. You might also ask what can be done to avoid them doing this again, and also ask about expungement if it’s determined they did not handle this correctly.

    Good luck!

    1. This. You need to file a lawsuit against the school district, the guidance counselor specifically, and the SRO. This is THEIR responsibility, and they clearly neglected it. They need to be held responsible for that bill…at a MINIMUM. I’m so sorry this happened to him/your family.

  8. I hate to say it, but sometimes the only way schools will listen is with a threat of a lawsuit. The school personnel did not follow the IEP. The counselor was negligent. The school system at the very least should have to pay for an unnecessary hospital admission and whatever extra therapy time is needed to help get your son back to school readiness.

  9. I am autistic. I was Baker Acted in 6th grade. I got aggressive with a teacher’s aide. I was put into involuntary institutionalization for a week and a half. I had very poor impulse control at the time. This was the low point of my life.

    I am currently 32. I live on my own in the Washington, DC area, and run my own disability advocacy firm. I regularly do business with business executives and congressmen. I also work as an editor and content creator for a large international advertising firm. I have just released a 300 page book with high reviews, and am regularly asked to speak on a wide variety of topics all around the country.

    Is this a gross injustice? Absolutely. Is it the end of your son’s life? Hell no! Thank you for being an amazingly supportive parent!

      1. Maureen’s got it! The book is a collection of essays, reviews, disability studies writings, and pop culture pieces. It is about 300 pages long. It is available in paperback and fully accessible Kindle. Hope you enjoy!

    1. Alec you are awesome!! You have overcome obstacles most people will never truly understand and you should be so proud of yourself! You are an inspiration!

    2. Hi Alec, my son Alex is 11 and autistic/ADHD/ODD. Aggression is one of his primary symptoms. He would have started 6th grade last week, had we not decided to continue homeschooling. This article made me cry because of this family’s experience, and your comment made me cry because it gave me hope for the future.

      Thanks.

    3. Alec, this is good to know. I have a son on the spectrum who is attending GWU in DC. This very nearly happened to him in 12th grade. Same kind of thing; he said something about killing himself. We got very lucky in that the ER psych figured out that he was ok. He was SUSPENDED for 5 days. This is a kid who was in the top 10 in his graduating class of nearly 500, and a top orchestra student, swimmer, etc… The whole episode has haunted him and he has nightmares weekly of being put into a mental institution. He’s quite lonely in DC and I have to keep a close eye on his mood. He had found a meetup group for autistic adults in the DC area, but it disbanded (leader was too busy) after he went to his first event with them. Do you know of any groups or organizations in that area that could be a good place to meet others on the spectrum? I think it would be very beneficial for him to meet others who he can relate with. I will check out your book!

  10. I’m terribly sad to hear of what’s happened to your son and your family. I’m an ESE educator and am certified in the area of autism. You should definitely contact the district office about this situation and if there is no recompense I’d recommend you contact a parent advocate/lawyer that specializes in ESE/ASD for assistance. For future reference if you’re in the Central Florida area, Esteem Academy (through Orange County Public Schools) is a wonderful alternative to traditional high schools for students with social/emotional disabilities. And, it’s not a school for juvenile delinquents so you don’t have to fear that your child will be influenced by inappropriate behaviors. They offer small class sizes, rigorous instruction, positive behavior supports and on-site group & individual counseling. If you’re not in Central Florida, check with your district office to see if they offer alternative educational settings such as Esteem Academy for students with ASD. Please know my prayers are with you.

  11. If the school clearly did not follow his IEP, they will have to pay for that medical care and you will have the right to choose a reputable private school for your son at the school district’s expense. Down load The Idea Act;it’s federal law. It’s also a good idea to have an advocate, but in this case I would suggest a special education law attorney. Contact Dorene Philpot. If she can’t help you, she can direct you to someone that can. 🙏🏼

  12. Please dont run from the school. Make the school better. They are failing other students too. When everyone who can afford homeschooling or private schooling leaves public schools, the majority of us are left to suffer the incompetance of care.

    1. sometimes you have to run.
      I have had minor issues compared to this with a primary school (Ind public sch) and got swatted by the administration, well… small town swatted. they called police to my home to advise me of trespass if I went to the school.
      All I’ve done is to try to get them to follow state law and report use of their isolation room as required.
      obviously after them calling police I’m taking my kid and running so to speak. homeschooling for now, at least.

  13. What county do you live in? I train School Resource Officers as part of my job with Pinellas Autism Project. It sounds like there was a breakdown in training here. The parent needs to file a complaint with the chief of police or sheriff. There has to be more than a threat of self harm. There also has to be a means and an intent. A child with autism will threaten SIB (self-injurious behavior) because it’s a way to bring attention to their sensory distress. It’s kind of like yelling “fire” when you are being kidnapped. The SIB threat attracts attention to a person overwhelmed. I recommend parents whose kids threaten SIB communicate this to the school and the SRO. The SRO has the discretion to not Baker Act a child, and it should be the last resort. The training we do takes a real-world look at these situations. We even discuss restraint methods. (Some kids are literally too small to handcuff.) if anyone wants to learn more about our training call me at the Pinellas Autism Project, 727-483-1305. We are developing training for CPI investigators and patrol officers as well. Eventually we will work with corrections professionals. I also know some good lawyers.

  14. So much wrong with this! They didn’t follow the IEP they broke the law! The don’t sound like they’re able to provide an appropriate education for his needs. I don’t know how laws differ in states (I’m in NY). They will try and get out of paying for anything. He sounds like he needs a smaller setting. You can’t say “smaller setting” though if you’re asking them to place him somewhere else. They’re required to provide the “least restrictive environment”(not setting size) for his special needs. You have to learn the proper lingo or they will use your words against you if you go to court. I would definitely seek outside placement and I would edit his IEP to include a quiet lunch space. My son always had meltdowns in the lunchroom so I had the IEP changed and no more problems. I don’t think I could trust this school again but I would stick it out and get them to pay for placement.

  15. Please contact the fed dept of education. You can file a complaint on their website. They are fast and try to get everything done within 30 days of complaint filed. They helped us a lot.

  16. Private school is sometimes the best alternative. That’s what we had to do with my grandson when the school “ lost” his IEP. He was failing. He hated school. He has been in private school since second grade and loves it.

  17. My heart goes out to you and your family. While my son’s schools (yes, there were two MS) did not Baker Act my thirteen year old, I experienced the most of the same issues as he transitioned in middle school. After the gym teacher at the last one mocked his stemming and made it her mission to do so in front of his peers, we pulled him from public school. I had enough of their ARD meetings and failure to follow his IEP and his BIP. I homeschool now. He hates it. He misses the daily social interaction. We are seeking legal action, but it is difficult to find experienced legal professionals in this field. My point is to let you know that you are not alone in this journey. There are many of us who will be praying for your sweet family. You have, by the mere writing of your current situation, gained community support. Our situations may be as different as ASD itself is for our children, but you have our moral support and prayers.

    1. Many areas have vibrant homeschool networks, with field trips, get togethers, and elective classes. Some local YMCAs have a gym/swim class for home or online schooled kids, or one can be made. Extracurricular activities should still be accessible to students in a district, too. Look into other options for social interaction while you’re pursuing legal action.

  18. As the parent of an autistic child I would be beside myself. May I suggest everyone get an aid or accompany their child for the first day of school at a new facility to smooth things through. And, meet one on one with the councilor before school starts or on that first day to explain their child’s disability, needs and the IEP and behavior plan.

  19. I didn’t know there was a name for it. But know that you are not alone. https://www.copaa.org/ Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates I’m waiting for them to accept my membership as a parent so I don’t know what it looks like as a member yet.
    I can’t figure out what state you are in but I see your link is from FL. contact http://asgo.org/ Autism society of greater Orlando. They help train officers about ASD and might be able to help you. Tears and Hugs

  20. I am so sorry for what you and your son are going through. My daughter was Baker-Acted some 6 times, acute care for mos, baker acted again, baker acted again, and then residential treatment. We finally learned she had infections causing the neuro psychiatric behavior and she went on medications. Suicidal ideation went away on antibiotics Pans. This was all sudden onset. But it took almost two years to get a diagnosis. It is an absolutely flawed system. So unfair. God bless you and your family. If you ever need anyone to speak to call me 850 225 5958.

  21. We did sue our school district, because like you, we did EVERYTHING we could to help our kiddo at school. We even have a BCBA in our family to help guide us. After years of watching M struggle academically, come home many times a week to say “that phrase”, to hear about him getting lost socially and emotionally, we were done. We called in a lawyer that specializes in educational law. Wow! We thought we were doing everything we could for our kiddo, but in reality, the school his 95% of what it could be doing, just because they could. If you don’t know to ask, then you won’t get it. Long story short-term we sued, we won. Our sweet boy now is attending a fabulous school full time that is one to one teaching, the school district has to pay for it until he graduates, plus transportation to and from and they paid $20k of our legal fees.

    Get a lawyer. You kids have the RIGHT to a Free an Appropriate Public Education without fear of horrific consequences for other people not doing their job.

  22. All I can say is: HOMESCHOOL!!!
    There is no reason at all your child has to endure this because some people do not take their jobs seriously. Especially a job that affects our youth. This is why my Asperger’s son is learning with me instead of being all day around adults whom I do not know and who do not have his best interest at heart. He is THRIVING. I would recommend you look into homeschooling laws in your State and no you do not have to be a teacher in order to teach at home.

  23. Ridiculous… I am so sorry this happened to you. I live/work abroad so I have no US-based resources to provide you with (other than referring you to the Autism Speaks website), but God bless you for doing all you could to prepare him, and it’s a tragedy that that horrible excuse of a guidance counselor didn’t do his job. Keep fighting, Mom. I pray that everything works out for you and your sweet boy.

  24. This is so awful to read. I know you must be emotionally drained and have an awful lot to process and get through but please do make formal complaints to everyone you can.

  25. We’ve been homeschooling for 8 years now and we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of special needs kids. Many families do not feel like their children’s needs are being met in the public school system and just pulling them out.

  26. I’m so sorry you guys had to go through this! You’ll definitely win this lawsuit. In the mean time I would strongly suggest private school. My son just recently switched and he no longer begs to be home schooled. I’m not sure what state you’re in but I know both Florida and Georgia offer tuition assistance (sometimes completely paid for) to attend private school for children with an IEP.

  27. This terrifies me. I have a toddler on the spectrum.
    Frankly, I am not a Sue happy person. But woman, Sue the damn pants off of all of them. So incompetent. Causing so much turmoil mentally and emotionally and financially. I’d blast this in the media, get news stories on it, get it in local papers. Call these sad excuses for “professionals” out.

    I am so, so sorry for what you and your son have been through and continue to experience.

    1. It’s a long process getting answers, sifting through options and making decisions with all the influential people needed. We are in limbo. I have put all other obligations on hold and taken off work until we have a safe choice for our child.

  28. 5th grade our son said those words. Principal held him in office 3 days without contacting us, quietly taking dozens of “statements” – children filing in & out past our son to report on him. He had no idea why he was held out of class and didn’t think to mention it to us. Teachers who had come to love him suddenly turned to stone. Ultimately expelled.
    End result – thousands in attorney fees, weeks out of school.
    Principal, after realizing how bad he screwed up, magnanimously reversed expulsion from graduation trip.
    District Asst Superintendent, after initial support, did a 180 and ultimately whitewashed the entire ordeal.
    I can assure you, the only thing that brings change is costing the district a large amount of money. Because we could only afford to cost the district thousands, we were tossed out with the trash.

  29. I am so very sorry you had to go through all of this, especially your son having had to go through this. I hope your family can get the school to understand and be cooperative with your son and that he can thrive in his school rather than be in fear. I know that if it was my son that I would want to do everything I could for him and so I will just throw this out there, many families are finding great improvements with their autistic children with a Ketogenic diet. It is easy to find information about it and if you want to see an informative movie you can watch “The Magic Pill”. Regardless, I really hope your family will find peace and comfort and the best opportunities for your son.

  30. @#$% ’em. You don’t need them. We homeschooled rather than put up with any @#$%. No #$%^ off my @#$%. Well, I couldn’t do it until 9th grade, but I’m telling you, it was FUN! My son was the best student I ever had…well, pretty close. (The smartest one I ever had was severely Dyslexic, but had IQ over 160. Couldn’t add or spell.) I loved teaching him more than any other, and was so surprised how bright he really was. AND I accommodated him. No more 4 hours of homework every night. We went to school 4 hours a day, including lunch. We joined homeschool groups, and I have to say, the kids are very loyal to each other. He went on to tech school, and then got his GED. We are looking at possibly going to Georgia Tech for engineering. He’ll go his own way, at his own pace. Actually, most of school is BS, but it might light a fire, and he may meet his tribe then. I have a feeling he will. He, also, is dyslexic.

    In the end, it isn’t about them. It’s about making your son comfortable in this world. Go ahead, make everybody’s lives miserable. Or @#$% ’em. You don’t need them.

  31. My autistic son was 8 years old when his principal threatened to Baker Act him because he was having particularly aggressive meltdowns. His own father worked in the school building, and I was at home, half a mile away. I could be there to bring him home anytime they needed me to. After that threat from the principal, we kept him home and contacted an advocate (mychildwins.com), because tensions between my husband and his boss (the principal) were extremely high. The advocate came to an emergency IEP meeting that was called. The school tried to convince us that homebound instruction would be best, but the advocate told us that there would be no guarantee that a teacher would be available for our son through homebound and that that was just another way for the school to get our son “off their hands.” In the end, the school had to create a special class just for our son, where he had his own teacher and paraprofessional. Eventually another autistic child with similar difficulties did join the class for a year. They MUST provide education. Florida is HORRIBLE for autistic students, and the Baker Act is used far too often. I have seen pictures and heard stories of young children being put in handcuffs for behaviors they cannot control under circumstances they do not understand. It is WRONG. We were lucky that it did not get that far for our son, and now he attends an autism-focused school in another, much more educationally progressive state.

  32. I know in Pittsburgh there’s an educational law office. I don’t know if there are other such places in other states but it couldn’t hurt to find out.

  33. Staci,

    I’m also a parent of a child with autism in Florida. I’ve taken a class on advocacy, but I’m going to give you two different directions you could go. The first is to contact an advocate with a ton of experience in dealing with the Florida schools – Pam Lindemann (407-342-9836) or at theiepadvocate.com. She can give you some advice on whether you should bring an attorney into the picture, and she can guide you to a particular gentleman whose last name I’ve forgotten, but whose first name is Jamie. He’s not an attorney, but he goes toe to toe with school districts in Due Process cases.

    The second direction would be to consult with an extremely experienced Special Education and Law Advocacy Attorney – Mark Kamleiter is based out of St. Pete, but he works throughout the state of Florida. I’ve met the man, and he is an excellent resource who can help you cut to the core of the issue and determine if you have a case, and in addition, how to move forward from here. You can reach him at (727-323-2555); his website is flspedlaw.com

    I wish you the best of luck.

    Barbara

  34. After 4th grade (K-4 in public school in South Florida), we homeschooled for 2 years. My daughter is on the autism spectrum and never did fit the mold for public school (including ESE).

    We started public school with an exuberant, happy child who wanted to learn and make friends and ended up with an anxious and depressed child who did not want to go to school anymore.
    It was as if the school’s goal was to simply “consequence” autism out of our child.

    We live in a school district with A-rated schools, but it became clear that the system is geared towards serving the neurotypical students. We could have sought legal action, but the reality is that even if one wins a legal battle regarding one specific issue, there are still numerous variables that could cause the school system to fail the child and cause lasting harm.

    Even if the perfect IEP is in place, there is always the faculty or staff who has not read the IEP or who has no background in autism or who harbors tremendous bias and even fear towards our children. And of course, there are the other students. Our child was bullied relentlessly in her gifted elementary school classes. I knew her spirit would not survive at a traditional middle school. In fact, they already managed to start breaking her spirit in elementary school. And we were the parents who were informed, involved, and showed up to IEP meetings with an educational attorney.

    So, yes, sometimes you have to jump ship. Our responsibility is to make sure that our children have a happy, peaceful, and safe childhood. We cannot change a huge bureaucratic machine quickly, and we cannot do it alone. By the time, legal actions have been completed, our children could be transitioning to another school.

    Homeschooling gave my child time to heal. It gave me time to heal, and it gave us time to find a small, therapeutic private school nearby that I did not know existed.

    My child wanted to be schooled with other children after about 18 months of homeschooling. While we were looking for a non-traditional school, we also discovered a group homeschool that we strongly considered. This group homeschool or learning community, is a learning center where each student has their own learning plan. The center is run by two former therapists who are also moms to children on the spectrum (who are being homeschooled at the center). The tuition is comparable to other private schools.

    We ultimately decided on a very small non-traditional therapeutic private school because of proximity. Now, my child is thriving, has friends who she can relate to, and the team is caring and tailors the curriculum to the students’ needs.

    Most, if not all, non-traditional schools accept McKay and the Gardiner scholarship. The Gardiner scholarship is a relatively new scholarship based on special needs, but not financial need. A documented autism diagnosis is one of several diagnoses that qualify. The scholarship allows each recipient to spend the funding flexibly on tuition, supplies, therapy, or even homeschooling. (https://www.stepupforstudents.org/logins/special-needs-login/)

    I wish you all the best! It will get better. We just have to remind ourselves and the world that education must be peaceful and safe. If it causes tears and distress, it is the educational path that has to be changed and not the child. Our children deserve happy childhood memories and healthy self-esteem. Our children are not broken. They are beautiful and amazing the way they are. It is the world that is not made for them and that imposes disabling barriers to self-fulfillment, acceptance, and happiness. We must believe in our own abilities to help our children find ways around each barrier; one barrier, one day at a time. Stay strong mama! You are not alone!

  35. Dissapointing to see everyone blame the school while ignoring the draconian mental health legislation/system that allowed your child to be taken from you. “Mental health” is an industry that preys upon people like your child. Their “treatments” are so horrible they need to use these laws to force you to buy their terrible product.

  36. Staci, I know this is minor, but I loved your matter-of-fact conversation with your son – “And this is why we tell you not to do that.” Even as stressed as you were, you took advantage of the teaching moment, to bring him back to attending to you. A tough lesson, but perhaps one that he will retain?

    Your family is in my heart right now.

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