When I heard about the voluntary tracking devices and expansion of services for children and families who have ASD or other developmental disabilities in which wandering is an issue and quite common, I jumped for joy! Having a verbal child under the ASD umbrella often leaves me in fear of what could happen within today’s school system. Yes, I am a teacher, but suffice it to say I am not so PROUD of what took place with Avonte Oquendo. I completely believe someone must be held accountable as I have stated before, lack of supervision of students is a HUGE problem with me!
As a teacher, I was extremely disappointed in our system with what took place with Avonte. It was unexplainable and it was handled entirely wrong. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, as a teacher, I have personally seen more than a few things done horribly starting from the top right down to the bottom. I couldn’t help but think that something like that could happen to my own boy. Whether a child is nonverbal or not, this situation can take place but it really should NOT! What’s quite disturbing is that no one ran after him not to mention that he was left unattended in the first place despite having a mandated 1 to 1 para professional.
As I listened to every detail about this child and his needs on his IEP (Individualized Education Plan), I couldn’t help but think of my own child and now I know why it’s so important to have those tracking devices in place. My son, although he is verbal, has had issues where he’s walked out of class. And yes, despite being verbal, he will walk off and once confronted with someone he doesn’t know, he just might shut down and not speak. Am I concerned when he goes off to middle school? Of course I am! Should I have to be concerned, NO! Why should I? School should be a safe place right?
When I leave my child in school, I should feel safe and secure knowing his para professional is right by his side at all times, as she should be. Do paras get shifted around and is coverage lacking when they are absent?…I’ve seen it happen throughout my years. Is it legal? No, it’s NOT!!! Are IEP’s followed thoroughly? I have seen many children with needs not being met and it’s disheartening. I often question, “is the system really doing right by our children?” I pray that they are but in Avonte’s case, it was a fail and for that I am 100% behind the need for these devices. Whether your child is verbal or not, if you know your child can walk off, definitely consider it. All it takes is that one time when someone isn’t doing their job and isn’t doing right by the children to have something like this happen.
Every mother deserves for her child to be safe and we also deserve answers about what really transpired that day. These devices will prevent kids from wandering off and have the potential to save the life of another child that would have otherwise been lost due to the negligence of others! Let there never be a disappointment for any parent like the one that took place for Avonte’s poor mother. This loss was tragedy that should have never happened but because of it, we are making progress by making the environment for our children just a bit safer.
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