My wife and I recently had the opportunity to attend the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario SEAC meeting on May 24. We had been invited to sit as a delegation for FASD at this meeting by chair and trustee Sue Wilson. We were on the agenda to be nominated as the FASD reps on behalf of the LLG FASD Working Group.
In attendance at the SEAC meeting with Ms. Wilson were representatives of ten support organizations including VOICE, Community Living, Best Buddies, ABC, Easter Seals, and others. The Superintendent of Special Education, Dr. Hawes, the Principal of Special Education, Ms. Perrault and other Board reps were also present.
Within the discussion of the Special Education Report draft for next year, the question was raised involving IPRC's and IEP's. The report stated if a student meets the criteria for identification, they are to be identified and placed accordingly. CDSBEO determines meeting criteria according to the seven Ministry of Education definitions for exceptionalities. Dr. Hawes was asked if FASD meets one of those exceptionalities. She stated that FASD is a physical disability and meets the criteria as such. She went on to say, a student impacted by FASD may also meet the multiple exceptionality if there is a communication, intelligence, or behaviour component as well. However, the primary exceptionality should be a physical disability.
As you are probably aware, IPRC's continue to be a huge battleground regarding FASD. From school board to school board, procedures and understandings change. It reminds me that ultimately there needs to be direction given by the Ministry of Education regarding how FASD is to be defined. Just like Autism has its own definition under the Communication umbrella, FASD needs its own definition under the Physical Disability umbrella.
To have a Special Education Superintendent make this statement is a testimony to Dr. Hawes and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. She is to be commended for taking the lead on this and establishing the model others should be following.