Discovering your child has Autism at a time when very little was known about Autism, required navigating big waters never sailed before. Our doctors were baffled because our son Cameron was not what most considered ‘Autistic’. Back then, Autism primarily referred to those individuals living with severe behavioral and social dealys. Most had been institutionalized or living in group homes with around the clock care. Much less was known when it came to our public school systems and how to educate someone with Autism. We live in a rural area, it was like being blind-folded when Cam began school. In the state of Ohio within the public school systems, if the local district cannot provide the appropriate learning environment for a child, they must provide that child with access to the most appropriate setting in an alternate location outside the district which can accommodate the child’s needs. They must pay for the tuition and provide transportation. This happened to our son on more than one occasion. Cam has attended 5 different school districts from grades K-12. There came a time when they had to send him to a school district which was two counties away, and 126 Miles (round trip) away from home.
During the IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting for this particular school year, we came up with the idea that the district would pay me to drive him back and forth to school. They felt it too costly to fire up a school bus for one child. There were no transportation vans available at that time of the day so they paid me so much per mile to drive him. As hard as it seemed at first, it turned out to be a blessing. I got to spend an hour each way of pure, uninterrupted time with Cam. This was when he was not so much a boy anymore, but not quite a young man. I wish I had recorded those conversations. I had taken care of many individuals with Autism before having Cam, and no one ever helped me to better understand Autism more than seeing it through his eyes. We spent hours talking about his DVD’s and pizza. We laughed at all his jokes that made no sense to anyone else but us. It was a country drive so the sight of cows led to talking about the movie Tommy Boy and the scene where they tipped cows for fun. Every trip to and from school was an adventure and taught me something new. At the end of the school year I was taxed for the mileage I was paid to drive my son to school. Cameron graduated high school last June, but I would pay that tax a hundred times over if we could do it all again.