On Special Education

In five more months, my time in public school special education will be over. I have some mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I will miss my teachers and the routine of getting on the bus each morning and having a scheduled day. On the other hand, the last thirteen years has been a waste of time from an intellectual perspective. When I entered the public school system in the second grade, I was looking forward to being around other kids and learning some new things. The previous five years of my life had been spent doing full-time ABA therapy, mostly in my house. ABA gave me some useful skills but I hated the learning method. Breaking everything down into its simplest parts and then repeating over and over teaches you those steps but it doesn’t teach you how to learn on your own. Plus, it’s incredibly boring! I quit trying after so many years of it. My mind was beyond the mundane things that I was being forced to repeat day-in and day-out. So, I stopped making progress and my parents started looking for another option. We decided to try the public school and see how I did. That is when my world of IEPs and underachieving began.
I want to be clear from the beginning that my criticism is not targeted at the teachers and support staff, as I found them all to be kind and dedicated to us. But, the system is flawed and the insistence by the administrators to use easily measurable metrics that are all evidence-based stifles the creativity of the teachers and causes damage to the students. The data that was collected month-to-month and presented at the IEPs never represented my ability or my intellect. The problem with autism is not intellectual capacity, it is communication. That is my disability. I am quite capable of learning things on my own and absorbing information from my surroundings. That is how I know what I know, not from any of the formal lessons that I was given in the special-ed classroom. I am writing this on my blog in the hope that someone out there will read it and have the desire and resources to do things a different way, with the kids in mind, not a certain percentage of data points that need to be met each year so that the school continues to get its funding from the government. I will be writing a series of blog posts about my thoughts and ideas. Please forward it on to anyone that you think might find it useful or helpful. I want to use my brain and my relatively-recent ability to communicate to help change things for other kids in my situation. Hopefully, I can make a difference somehow.

About author

Aaron Jepson

I am a 21-year old male who was diagnosed with autism at age 3. I am only partially-verbal and have a very difficult time expressing my thoughts by mouth but I am able to type on an I-Pad. My goal in life is to help other people with disabilities, and to let the rest of the world know that most people with autism are intelligent and capable and can make a great contribution to this world. I am funny, athletic, and most of all, handsome. And I am a fast runner, a cool skier, and a sweet mountain biker.

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  1. REPLY

    Janet says

    You will make a huge difference in the lives of others. Of that I am sure!!!

  2. REPLY

    Bonita Klingler says

    Your Grandpa Wood had a desire to change the education system. You must have that gene too. Sorry you are the victim of an unsuitable system, but your efforts will not be wasted. You have great strength. You should go far!

    • REPLY

      Aaron Jepson says

      I hope Grandpa Wood is smiling down on me as I tear into the system. I’m happy to continue his mission.

  3. REPLY

    Camille Dixon says

    Aaron, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is definitely time for change and you are leading the way!

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    Susan AJackson says

    Thank you Aaron! Love to your wonderful fam!!

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    Brenda says

    Dear Aaron, I’m work with k-3 children with special needs and I’m in the process of getting my degree to become a special education teacher. I love your insights and your determination to serve others that struggle. I also have noticed as an aide that valuable time is wasted on repetitive curriculum that underserves the kids. I will be reading your posts carefully for your great advice. Thank you for working so hard to be understood! We need your perspective!

    • REPLY

      Aaron Jepson says

      Thanks for starting your career with an open mind. Don’t let the powers-that-be crush it.

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