Who's Really Blind Here?

These things start innocently enough...

The Admissions, Review, and Dismissal process, more commonly know by its acronym in Texas, ARD, was peeking its ugly head over the horizon, so someone at the school district discovered that Savannah's vision evaluation had "expired." According to the state of Texas, the ARD is to be a "comprehensive, easily understood document which explains the individualized education program." Savannah's ARD is a 35 page, Artaudian masterpiece of absurdest theater, sprinkled with Orwellian gibber-jabber. (Including information about the modified, state's standardized accountability testing she'll undergo) I always feel sorry for the staff of Savannah's school as they present the paperwork to us. They are caring, hard-working teachers and therapists who have Savannah's best interests at heart, but they are made to continue with this mandated, bureaucratic process that is presented as "helping parent and child," but really is an exercise in district-sponsored C.Y.A. All this to say, without an updated evaluation the district would not be able to continue vision services.

That all sounds reasonable, right? 
cartoon of an ophthalmologist giving an eye exam, (c) 2015 by David Borden

...until I supply you with the following information: Savannah is blind

She was born blind, she's been evaluated by a doctor of ophthalmology every few years with the same diagnosis: blind, same prognosis: she will continue to be blind. Blindness isn't like the chickenpox-- one day you wake up all better.

(Sigh of resignation) I'll make an appointment. As John Cougar Mellencamp taught me in my youth, fighting authority is a losing battle. This is what we do, we parents of the disabled. We scurry around town getting evaluations and official diagnoses to feed a system that's not so much set up to help us, but prevent us from suing them. How backwards is that? It's all so depressing. We make appointments with doctors because no one trusts parents. No one trusts the child. If a doctor doesn't fill out the district's form in accordance with the carefully constructed protocol, then I suppose a miracle occurs and Savannah is miraculously bestowed with vision.

Holy Cow! I should try that. If I don't take her to get the ophthalmologist's paperwork filled out, she will be able to see! Thank you Austin Independent School District for thinking outside the box!

But I digress. What sparked this post was the district's directive to procure an evaluation because Savannah's last one had "expired." I called the ophthalmologist. They couldn't make an appointment without a referral, so I called Savannah's regular doctor. They asked, "So, if she's not sick, why do you need to see the doctor?"

"Because the school district thinks she's made a full recovery from her permanent brain injury. We're going to go to all this trouble and expense so a specialist can shine a light in her eyes and say, 'Yep, still blind.' Great use of limited resources, don't you think?"

The irony here is this: Her ARD allots 20 minutes, 12 times a year for vision services for a whopping 4 hours of services spread over nine months. And the irony doesn't end there: to go to the appointment, I'll take her away from school for more time than a year's worth of vision service!

Did I say theater of the absurd already?
cartoon of a visit to the ophthalmologist, (c) 2015 by David Borden
At the Ophthalmologist's, (c) 2015 by David Borden
#disability #ARD #redtape #paperwork #specialneeds #specialed #parenting #specialneedsparenting
#ophthalmologist #neurologist #orthopedist


  1. Absurd. “Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work” - Einstein

    1. You can say that again. From my experience dealing with the state and federal government, bureaucracy becomes the work.

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