*Please read* my friend Katie Gandy had something so scary happen to her son, who is autistic and non-verbal, and now her family is having to FIGHT to find out what even happened—-AT HIS SCHOOL. They have had to hire an ABA trained and qualified babysitter for him who costs $22/per hour and he needs to keep his routine consistent while out of school (since 9/17/18 and until at least mid-December, so another 4-5 weeks) while she and her husband both work full time and take care of his medical bills, extra educational services, therapy to help explain and work through this trauma with Grayson so he isn’t terrified when he begins his new school, as well as lawyer fees so they can fight not only for Grayson and this incident but to do everything they can do so this living nightmare doesn’t happen to another family. I am shamelessly asking for anything you can give towards helping this family. I know they would be deeply appreciative. It takes a village and right now her village needs to help Grayson. Photos and words detailing what happened were shared with permission directly from Katie and her Facebook page. Friends and family,We’ve decided as a family to share the chain of events that led to Grayson being withdrawn from the elementary school where he thrived last year with Ms. Natalie as his teacher. The 2018-19 school year started badly from day one. Grayson was at the same school and in the same class as he was last year but his entire classroom staff had turned over. His classroom teacher and her staff had no training in the Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC)-the iPad program he uses for speak/communicate. His classroom teacher and her staff had no training in Errorless Teaching (teaching method that is solely used in the Primary Learners program which Grayson was enrolled in and Errorless Teaching is the premise of that program and thriving in that type of instruction is required for admittance in the PL program) and no experience in managing behaviors using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques. Grayson was doing everything right. Following the protocols that he has learned both last year and the summer in school and in his home program we have established. But the untrained staff gave him extremely inconsistent positive reinforcement and consistent reinforcement of problem behaviors. I asked for help from the school, I asked the department of special education, all of my requests went unresponded to. The next week is when Grayson was injured. He was sent hone with a very obvious injury that could’ve been a skull fracture (we weren’t sure since there was no call from the school, no note in his backpack, no email). He could’ve died on the school bus. They put him on the bus without a care in the world. It took Chris and myself 45 minutes of calls and emails to ask what happened when we finally got a call from the school nurse 99 minutes after the incident happened. I was already en route with him to the ER because I knew it was serious. Grayson was abnormally quiet. He vomited on the way to the ER. I had to explain to the doctors that he got off the bus like that. That it didn’t happen at home. That I didn’t do it. That my husband didn’t do it. I then had to pin my child down for a CT scan and lay across his shaking, trembling, terrified body to hold him still to just get the one scan to show he didn’t have a brain bleed. ”It’s ok buddy. Mommy is helping you. Mommy would never hurt you. We need to see where Grayson is hurt. This machine will help.” Repeated over and over, tears streaming down my face faster than I could wipe them away. Imagining in my mind what trauma he had to have gone through earlier to have an injury this serious had me fighting nausea until the scan was over and I could make it to the bathroom. No parent should ever see their child in that much physical and emotional pain. We couldn’t even try an MRI which would tell us the extent of the injury, both immediately and into the future, because he would have to lay perfectly still or be sedated. And he couldn’t be sedated after head trauma. So now we wait. We wait for him to fully heal and then sedate him to find out how much this injury will affect his future. Unforeseen costs and medical bills just continuing to mount, not to mention the lawyer, the educational advocate and the babysitter. Today is 8 weeks since he was sent home like the photos below. 8 weeks since complete and total disregard for his safety occurred. This injury somehow occurred at school (we haven’t been told exactly what happened yet—-the school is trying to say Grayson did it to himself, which both the ER doctor and his primary care physician said could not have occurred. We are still awaiting private placement at a non-public school that can keep Grayson safe, thriving, available to learn, learning more and more methods of AAC and verbal communication. To say our family has been dealing with incredible trauma is the understatement of the century. Grayson has nightmares almost every single night. Christian and I have nightmares almost nightly, we wake up worrying about what happened. I have been sleepwalking and woken up by the front door crying, upset that Grayson is hurt and on the bus and we have to get him off. Emerson, who is due to start kindergarten next fall, keeps asking if she has to go to the school where Grayson got hurt and she doesnt want to go to a school where she could be so hurt and couldn’t go back to school. Grayson is struggling with being out of school. Kids with autism thrive in a routine. We’ve had to hire an ABA trained babysitter every single day so Chris and I can keep our jobs. We’ve had to take days off. Adjust our schedules. We’ve asked our bosses to be patient as we work through this trauma as a family. Despite our best efforts, Grayson has lost a lot of skills he worked so hard to learn because he has been out of school for 8 weeks, likely at least a few before we get his start date. We are sharing this because I want other parents to be aware and our friends and family to know what happened in greater detail than we’ve shared previously. The disregard the teachers, nurses and staff had by putting Grayson on the bus is atrocious. If he had had a skull fracture, one small bump in the road or sharp turn and Grayson would have been dead. If we had put Grayson on the bus the way he got off the bus, we would’ve had Child Protective Services at our door questioning both of us within the hour. But somehow it’s ok for the school to disregard the health, safety and well-being of our non-verbal, autistic son who can’t tell us what happened other than “ouch mommy, help mommy” over and over on his device. The pain of this experience will never leave us or Grayson. He still gets very upset whenever we drive past the turn where his school was. Not because he wants to go back but because he is scared to go near school. Thank you for thinking of our family during this impossibly difficult time. We appreciate all of the care and positive thoughts you can send our way.
Edited by the family to add: Should the school system reimburse the family for these expenses, the family will donate the amount raised to the Howard County Autism Society.