Special Ed for our special guy

Dear kind friends and strangers -

My husband and I are on a mission to get funding for our beautiful boy, so that he can attend a Special Ed school that can suit his unique educational needs.

Never in my life did I think that I would be looking for personal donations from anyone for anything.  But my child's future depends on it, and for him, I will do anything.

Our son was born perfectly healthy and then at 18 months of age, he began the decline into autism.  He was diagnosed as moderately autistic at 2 1/2.  Our journey with him has been difficult and draining, but our commitment to his well being has never waivered. 

He was suspended multiple times in kindergarten, and was eventually thrown out of his elementary school (public). The district wanted to send him to a horrible, institution-like school. We were committed to having him attend public school so that he could assimilate with the neuro-typical kids, so we decided to move.

Our experience in our new school district was amazing.  Our son was in special ed with a 1:1 aide for first and second grades.  By third grade, it was determined that he did not need the aide anymore.  The next few years were incredible, as he blossomed and grew.  Out of his entire fifth grade class, he won the "Consistent Achiever Award", which recognizes the child who has shown exceptional citizenship and has worked to his or her highest academic potential.  This award was unbelievable to us.  Our boy, who had been kicked out of kindergarten, was receiving an award for being a good student.  We couldn't believe it.  We were so proud of him.  After all our struggles, he was being recognized for all his achievements and hard work.

Then came middle school.  It was a disaster.  His academics were atrocious.  He could not attend in class.  The new environment was so overwhelimng for him.  It was a huge school and it was a stressful environment for him.  He was bullied by the other students.  His self esteem and self confidence were crushed.  His testing showed that he was in the <1% in the areas of reading comprehension, auditory processing and attention.  In other areas he did not score much higher.  At 12 years old, he could read, but he could not tell you anything about what he just read.  Could not answer a multiple choice question.  Didn't have a friend.  Talked of harming his school and himself.  Cried every day about having to go back to school.  This child had always been so eager and willing to learn, now he was talking about suicide and ditching school.  It was a complete 180 in the matter of just one summer.

We had numerous meetings with the school district over the past school year, trying to get placement in a special ed school that could address his severe learning disabilities, which were very pronounced now that he was in middle school.  We had Ryder privately evaluated by a psychologist who recommended placement in another school.  Our district did not listen.  They kept trying to tailor their inappropriate environment to work for our son.  It didn't work.

Now we are desperately trying to get funding for private school for him with the new school year looming, and our last ditch effort with the district, unsuccessful.  If we can even get partial funding we can start him at the new school and try to work on the balance as the school year progresses.

A little information about me -
I started an autism non-profit in 2005 and have had numerous fundraisers over the years.  I have worked to raise over $1,000,000 for various autism charities, never being paid one penny for any of the work I have done.  My partners and I have put countless hours into these fundraising efforts, never asking for anything in return. 

Now, I need something in return.  I need the help of the universe to give my son the chance he deserves to grow and develop so that he can become a productive member of society.  He is a sports nut, who would love to be a sports broadcaster.  Even with his specific learning disability, he is still extrememly bright.  But if the child can't comprehend what he reads, or process information in a meaningful way, or attend to any task at hand, he has no chance of getting a job doing anything.  He needs to be in an environment that can nurture him and address his learning disabilities with specialists that can work with him every step of the way.  And after a year or two, we hope to get him back to a general ed setting.  But for right now, at this critical period of his development, he needs some serious intervention and he needs it immediately.

We intend to go through the legal channels to get the district to pay for his tuition at Star Academy.  We believe we have a very strong case.  If we are successful, we will return every donation that we receive. 

Please help us get Ryder placed in an environment that will help to shore up some of his critically lacking academic skills, and help him to become successful in life.  This is a child who can be, and who has already been, a success story.  Help us give him a chance.  Any amount will help.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Jenny and Jim DeMaria
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Jenny Mink DeMaria 
San Rafael, CA
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