Margaret Jensvold killed her son, Ben Barnhard because she was mentally, emotionally, and financially drained from fighting school systems to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education for her autistic son.  I know the perils most school systems face when it comes to appropriately educating our special needs children.  I recently served as the Early Childhood Special Education Manager for Chicago Public Schools.  I listened to the endless legitimate concerns of parents, with special needs babies, who grappled with a school system lacking the resources critical for providing a premier education for their children.   Uninformed clinicians develop poor quality Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that leave only two people responsible for placement for the entire District 299, struggling to find appropriate special education placements for hundreds of children.  Many may not be eligible for an IEP

Are you reading this blog entry feeling thankful that you do not endure the struggles of parents with special needs children?  Are you the parent of a special needs child with the knowledge, resources, and confidence to dialogue with teachers, administrators, and clinicians about what is best for your child?   Think about the millions of parents who have no clue—or parents like Margaret Jensvold, who felt hopeless about fighting school systems to gain what is rightfully theirs:  a Free Appropriate Public Education.

In Chicago, hundreds of school children returned to school this week.  In other cities, children will return near the middle of end of August.  Most of us are preparing for the traditional “day-after-Labor-day” start of school. 

Millions of parents are fighting for the rights of their special needs children that have been diagnosed with autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disability, traumatic brain injury, cognitive disability, emotional disability, hearing impairment, other health impaired, multiple disabilities, and visual impairment.   Add additional challenges of dealing with ill-prepared teachers with limited knowledge of the special needs child, or the classmates with bad parents who aren’t teaching their children an ounce of empathy. 

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities is an excellent source of information on disabilities in infants, toddlers, children and youth.  Forward this link to others who could benefit from this resource.  There are other Margaret Jensvolds we never hear about.