Denied Followup

The Houston Chronicle reports that School Superintendents in both Dallas and San Antonio are questioning the arbitrary target goal of 8.5% of students receiving special needs treatment.
“I was surprised to see (the special education percentage) so low,” said Hinojosa (DISD), who previously worked as a superintendent in Georgia. “I’m used to that number being higher.” It is estimated that up to 250,000 children are being deprived of special needs attention based on the target goal and the national average. We can only hope that Houston’s new Superintendent, Richard Carranza, recognizes this deficiency and joins with other superintendents around the state to remedy this folly of a an unacknowledged policy.

Read Brian Rosenthal’s followup story here:
Dallas, San Antonio superintendents call for end to state’s special education enrollment target

Link to original Investigative Reports:


Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of children out of special education
Texas Texas is Keeping Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education

When Love and Support is the best medicine. Part1

Just like every parent of an autistic child, I have my good days and my days of tears, stress and concerns. I am happy to say that as Peyton gets older my super stressed days seem to be getting less and less. This in no way means I don’t have those days when I feel like I am swimming upstream and will never reach shore. It’s during these days that the tiniest bit of support, love and care means more than I can put into words. If there is one thing I hope others who read my blogs get from them, is how your support and understanding really helps those of us who need it. I want to share with you some of the  awesome things people have done for me and my family, some are very small and quiet things, others are “wow thank you” moments…but they all have touched my heart. I will be writing several blogs in this series each highlighting different awesome moments of kindness.

I have had many awesome moments throughout Peyton’s life where complete strangers have shown both he and I not only understanding but left an impression for years . When Peyton was young he hated having to get new shoes, I dreaded going to the shoe department and having him get new shoes….my daughter would go with me and together we would try to keep him calm. It was fast approaching fall and I knew I couldn’t put it off any the three of us left and went to the mall. We decided to go to Nordstrom as I wanted him to have “good shoes”. When we arrived at the store, I told the sales clerk that he was autistic and hated getting new shoes. She listened and smiled with a warm, it’s ok smile. She was Kurdish. After having grown up in Northern Iraq, dealing with a child crying hysterically over shoes wasn’t a problem in her world. She saw Peyton by the large aquarium they had in the shoe department and asked if he loved fish…I said oh yes that he had an aquarium and it was comforting for him. She quietly walked over to him and began to talk with him about the beautiful fish in the tank. He was thrilled someone else thought they were awesome. She then told him she would put a chair right by the aquarium and he could sit and watch the fish swim, as she found shoes that both he and the fish would love….to my surprise he sat down and engaged with her. She asked him which was his favorite fish..he told her the blue and yellow one…she walked over to me and asked what “type of shoe” he needed. I told her a leather sneaker. She then got him to let her measure his foot. He was so engaged with the aquarium he wasn’t crying or stressing. The next thing I know she comes back with a pair of blue and yellow sneakers. She makes a big deal out of how they were like the fish. Peyton thought that was “so cool” he tried them on and to my delight they fit great. I watched in amazement how this woman who 30 minutes earlier was a complete stranger and now she was someone who made such an impression in my heart. Yes, she made a sale…but more than that she made a little boy, who hated to get new shoes, a happy little boy who walked away smiling. He called those shoes his “fish” shoes. We always went back to her after that to get him his shoes and she always took the tIme and compassion to make it enjoyable. Her patience, care and understanding meant so much to us, and I will never forget her for it.


DENIED! Education

The Houston Chronicle published an investigative piece yesterday that everybody, especially followers of this and other autism related resources should read. They have removed their paywall for this article, which has the ominous title DENIED. In it, Brian Rosenthal lays out the evidence that Texas is finagling (to put it mildly) admittance into it’s special needs programs in order to meet a self-imposed quota. As many as 250,000 special needs students are being deprived of the resources they need to reach their full potential. While the National average for special needs students per school district is somewhere around 13%, Texas has discovered the methods to maintain a number around 8.5%, or so they claim.

Houston Chron: Denied

Since we can only speak on what we know personally and we homeschool with an emphasis on learning and not just passing tests, I can only cite a few examples of the public school system. One kid that we bowled with could only speak in short syllable sentences and could not tie his shoes, yet received a High School diploma. Another was given the answers to the tests beforehand to study to help his progress. And yet another was encouraged to deny their daughters autism and dismiss it as merely learning delayed.

Please take the time to listen to Brian in this podcast and then dive deeper into the story here.

Thank you Brian, The Houston Chronicle and all who helped compile this important piece of journalism, including the educators who cooperated.  We welcome your thoughts…Mark

Sources: Houston Chronicle:

Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of children out of special education
Texas Texas is Keeping Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education

Homeschooling with Flipboard

Flipboard & Technology for the #Homeschooler by Mark Simpson


Hello Corporate America!!

Before I start this blog let me be very clear, I know there are many companies who either get it or are trying. This isn’t aimed at them, this is more about getting more on board to understand.

It seems almost daily I read an article that breaks my heart about how an autism family has been treated poorly, in a public place. I shake my head each and every time. I get so frustrated that so many just don’t want to take the time to find out what little adjustments they can do to make life so much easier. I wish those who do try would also listen to many of us parents of Autistic kids, teens and adults. It frustrates me that we get “lumped in” as a special needs block… Autism is diagnosed as autism for a reason….while there are no 2 autistic kids alike, we do share some commonalities that could be discussed. Listening to us parents who live 24/7 with our child do have ideas and suggestions that are worthy of many companies’ time. This post is not meant as a lecture rather than as a call for those reading it to join together and see what changes we truly can bring forward.

Continue reading

Heroes then Football…

Anyone who spends any amount of time around me knows I am a die-hard sports fan and at the top of that list is Florida State Football. I anguish every year during season as if my life is somehow directly affected by the W’s and L’s…..I went to a small Christian College that did not have football, so I chose to be a FSU fan, my primary reason for this was their head coach at the time Bobby Bowden. I adored him and his integrity, values and family devotion. My kids were raised to be FSU fans, and I am proud to say they all are : ) several years ago I had the honor to meet Coach Bowden and spend a bit of time with him and I can honestly say he was everything I thought he was, and more. I have for years loved him, and to meet him was one of the highlights of my life! I watched as so many amazing young men came out of the football program and did so much for others.

This past week FSU program has been in the national spotlight for the awesome kindness of its top wide receiver, Travis Rudolph. I am sure all of you have seen the story, he befriended a young man, Bo, who sat alone at lunch. Why did he sit alone? Because he has autism, yes that’s all, it broke my heart when I saw the picture of how far away the other kids sat from this sweet boy. I read his Mom’s Facebook post and

Continue reading