Customer service? Maybe

There aren’t too many occurrences that leave me speechless. Between a family law practice, seven kids and three husbands, I think I’ve about seen it all. However, tonight I received a response to a letter I wrote about a wraparound agency that was thoroughly incompetent, the first one our kids had. I wrote the letter in August 2004.

What? you ask. It took four years for them to respond to your complaints? Apparently.

Obviously we don’t use this agency any longer–didn’t, as of the time I wrote the blistering three-page diatribe about the people who were so hostile and arrogant with us that we were physically ill every time we had to deal with them. Captain Oblivious had a TSS worker who used to be a phys ed teacher, and her idea of therapy was to march him two miles a day from downtown to a park, even if he threw up at the end. When she wasn’t walking around doing her personal errands while “giving him therapy.”

Little Miss had just graduated from early intervention into TSS therapy, but her new college grad worker had already booked her summer full of personal plans, cancelled half the sessions, and really didn’t know anything about autism (though she insisted Little Miss was just the cutest thing.)

I’d nearly forgotten the medication fiasco until I looked up my letter on the computer while the guy was on the phone. Here’s what I wrote:

C.O. “was prescribed a second dose of his medicine to be taken during his TSS time. There was discussion with Creekside where they told dad they could not give him the medicine, but that the child could take it himself if we sent it. So we sent it in his lunchbox. The first day it came up missing out of his lunchbox; so we were told to send it in a pill bottle. The second day we sent it in a pill bottle but it was not the pill bottle with the prescription on it. So the TSS coordinator got in the bottle and got the medicine and was checking it against her PDR for some reason, at the same time protesting left and right that she wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with medicine even though she was a nurse. Our question was why did she have her hands on the medicine at all if she wasn’t supposed to deal with it? Why didn’t she just send it home and explain what she wanted, since she was unclear the first time? It made us wonder what really happened with the first pill.”

Like most confrontations with the agency, it was clear they wanted us to just shut up and accept what they gave because they were the experts. Many parents would, because they tend to use wrap services as free babysitting and respite from a difficult life. But, as I explained in my letter, we work hard and don’t get to spend as much time with the children as we’d like. We agreed to sacrifice our time with them so they could get 30 hours a week of help–but then we expected they would actually get help.

We have since changed agencies twice, and love the people we work with now. They value us as we value them and as a team, we are building up these kids into something great. I wonder what the real purpose was for this call from the supervisory agency. I discussed it with him and he assured me that many of those issues had been addressed, but he never asked me to come back. And I wouldn’t.

The whole incident reminded me of the Alex Barton story in a way, because it showed me once again that we as parents are the ones who are responsible for assuring our children’s education progresses as it should. We must observe and enquire and monitor to make sure we’re getting what they need, and not getting what they don’t. Our very special customers deserve service.