South San Francisco, CA February 20, 2017 Submitted by Paul Nemeth
Our son John Robert Nemeth has been enrolled in the South San Francisco Unified School District since he began preschool at age four.
We had noticed strange and troubling behaviors in him: he wasn’t speaking in sentences, didn’t really seem to understand language, and had behaviors we found confusing and frightening. We later learned he was autistic.
We called his previous school district for state-mandated speech therapy, but never heard back from them.
During the process of moving to South San Francisco, we called the SSFUSD to request services. They responded within hours. We met with a speech therapist soon thereafter, and soon were registered for weekly speech therapy sessions. Our son began preschool that fall, and we began noticing improvements in his speech and behavior almost immediately.
Our son is ten years old now, and is thriving in the SSFUSD special-ed system. We can’t overstate our gratitude towards SSFUSD for their outstanding program, or for the amazing resources that have been put in place for us.
We both come from education families and have been consistently amazed by the ability, dedication and professionalism our son’s teachers and paraprofessionals have shown. Decades ago, our son would either have been institutionalized or written off as uneducable, and as late as the 1980s, he would have been treated with electroshock therapy, or worse. We have been given renewed hope that as an adult he will be self-sufficient; he will work, he will create, he will marry, he will do all the things parents wish for their children. None of these dreams would be possible without the care and dedication of the SSFUSD special-education staff, and without SSFUSD as a whole.
Like I said before, we both come from education families, and we recognize that our son’s teachers, therapists and aides are the best of the best. If SSFUSD doesn’t pay them what they’re worth, someone else will. If they move to more profitable districts—and who could blame them?—it would be a criminal shame for us and for coming generations of parents. Without early intervention and academic support, the autistic and developmentally disabled will reach adulthood without specialized therapy and skills they need.
Please help keep our teachers in the SSFUSD. We—and our kids—depend on it.