Henry’s persistance, determination and ability to rally the troops made this happen.

How does a 13 year old get to a place where he can take a stand like this? One reason, is it’s just Henry, it’s just the kind of person he is. He is willing to stand up, not only for himself, but for others. Another enormous factor in all of this, is that Henry has learned from autistic adults. His mentors and role models are autistic. His mentors also happen to be some of the most amazing humans on the planet. The autistic community has been the most supportive, empowering, positive influence for Henry and our entire family. Please listen and learn from autistic adults.

Mary Schuh of the National Center on Inclusive Education (NCIE) at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability has written a great piece regarding I Stand WITH Henry.

Henry met Mary at MIT in 2011. Mary and NCIE have been extremely supportive of Henry and our family throughout this process; helping immensely with the many details of the IEP.

We started this process on May 7th, 2012. It took six months and  four IEP meetings to get to the point where Henry’s placement is at the school across the street – Sept 14th (1.5 hours), October 30th (3 hours) , November 7th (4 hours), and finally November 13th (3 hours).

Mary was on her way to attend the October 30th IEP with us, but all flights from New Hampshire were cancelled due to hurricane Sandy. Mary and Ven Sequenzia, president of the Florida chapter of Autism Society of America, were conferenced in by phone on the four hour November 7th IEP and their knowledge and expertise were invaluable.

Mary and Ven also participated in the three hour IEP on November 13th via conference call. In addition, Ari Ne’eman, President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability,  the federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues, attended the IEP via the conference call. Cheryl Jorgensen, an inclusive education consultant in private practice and former Project Director with the Institute on Disability (IOD),  was also an important part of Henry’s advocacy team conferenced in for this very important meeting.

The outcome of the last IEP was that Henry will attend Wilson with the appropriate supports. We are very encouraged regarding the supports. The three items we had issues with at his former school; an aide, supports for his FM system for his hearing aide, and his AAC ( augmentative and alternative communication system) are a given with HCSD and Wilson. Everyone on the IEP team was in complete agreement that these supports were absolutely necessary for Henry to access the curriculum.

Henry’s inclusion is  a truly a group effort led by Henry.  We are looking forward to working with Hillsborough County School District as placement is now at Wilson Middle School.

At the IEP on  Tuesday we were told that The Florida Inclusion Network, who works with HCSD, will be involved with Wilson and their newest student, Henry Frost. We are very excited about this, as we have heard so many wonderful things about FIN’s work. USF CARD can also help with supports at Wilson now that placement has been decided.

We have been blown away by the outpouring of support and excitement from our community regarding the outcome of the IEP. Many parents, students, and teachers from Wilson have reached out expressing how great this is for everyone and how thrilled they are to have Henry attend. This means a lot to all of us, especially Henry and he is writing about the impact of the last 3 months.  He will have that article up soon.

It has been an interesting week for Tampa, for Hyde Park (our neighborhood), and even our street.

The vast majority of people in our community are far more involved in making sure the human and civil rights of all its members are respected, than they are involved with the stories revolving around Ms. Kelly.  Ironically, one of Henry’s favorite spots to go and reflect  is next to the Kelly’s house that has been all over the news.

On one end of our street you have Henry, a self-advocate who had to fight for access to his neighborhood school . At the other end of our street we have a person who, as an upaid social liason, was granted  access to everything- generals, MacDill Airforce Base, even the White House.

This is a great opportunity to reflect on what we value as a society and make sure we keep moving forward.

The article by Mary Schuh and update are below:

“I Stand with Henry” update: the lead story in the Fall RAP Sheet2012  on inclusive education is about Henry Frost, a Florida student who was barred from attending his neighborhood school. The outcome of the last IEP meeting concluded that Henry will indeed be welcomed as a sixth grader at Wilson Middle School, Hillsborough County School District, Florida. Henry extends his thanks to everyone for standing up for what’s right, that inclusion in one’s school and community is a human and civil right, and using the power we each have within us to make a difference.

Read more about The Rap Sheet, a collaborative effort by the Disability Rights Center, The Institute on Disability, and NH Council on Developmental Disabilities, here.