I spoke with Therin's 2nd grade teacher today, Mrs. L. We were finally able to talk about last Friday's IEP. She was pissed off. I found it interesting that we were ticked off about different aspects of the experience. I think hers is the more noble position than mine, but I'll explain later. Thank God that I have her and the Principal on our side. I think there is MORE than enough evidence for Therin to have an aide. It seems that he has made his midyear turnaround and is doing well academically and is getting used to the classroom routines. I hope this doesn't mean that she will no longer back me up (as happened with his other teachers). I think once the teacher learns his methods of communication and he learns theirs they have less need of an aide where academics are concerned and this usually happens around about November/December. By February they don't think he needs an aid but . . .
He is smart and full of potential and would learn so much more if some one was there to translate for him. They wouldn't deny a non-hearing student an aide that uses sign language to help communicate. Why do we have to prove BEYOND a shadow of a doubt that this smart young man needs the assistance of a human aide in navigating the social structure of the classroom and playground. I'd not worry about this and pursue this if I didn't think he needed help. He wants to socialize with his peers. Much of last year and this year you could tell Therin's desk by looking to see that it was the only desk standing alone without a group. Mrs. L has recently put him in a group and he just beams when he tells me about what his group is and what they do together. He wants to be social and feel a part of a group. If HE was fine with being alone I'd be fine with it too. BUT he tells me he doesn't have time to eat his lunch because he needs to play with his friends. I found out that during lunch he is not only sitting alone while he's supposed to be eating but when he is out on the playground he is only "walking the peremeter" of the play structure. Until this IEP I didn't know this. He doesn't consider this walking "playing" with his friends. He spends before school, 1st recess, and lunch walking the peremeter. 2nd recess is when he actually "plays" with his friends: he wanders around until he sees someone he wants to play with and then he gives them such a big hug that he usually knocks both of them to the ground. He hurt another child doing this and because of this incident he won't be allowed to hug other kids at school. They also don't want him hugging ANY TEACHERS! He is such an affectionate child I worry about what this will do to him. What they were trying to teach him before was to ask before hugging other people. He understands when are appropriate and inappropriate times to hug (not in the middle of instruction - after class or during a break is O.K.) but when he gets in trouble is when he works himself up all day, I would imagine, planning what 2nd recess will be like and then when it's time he gets so excited that in his exuberance he bowls over the other child and himself. I think that a better strategy would be to not only teach Therin to interact appropriately the other kids, they should be taught his cues as well so he isn't likely to injure anyone (himself or others). His classroom teacher actually does a wonderful job explaining how everyone is different and have different needs since he gets pulled out of class so often. Most of the others are very compassionate and accepting and those that aren't hopefully aren't the kids that Therin is trying to approach. If there was an adult that could remind him during lunch that he needs to eat so his body has the energy so that he can play during 2nd recess I think that would be all it would take. If an adult could be there to remind him to give a gentle hug IF his playmate says it's O.K. and then direct the pair on how to play together that would help Therin without pushing him beyond his social limits. If another adult was available to redirect him and help keep him focused during the frequent testing that schools seem to espouse that is where my child needs help. He is curious and absorbs so much and is more aware than he sometimes seems to be.
So how am I torn? Mrs. L pointed out to me that this specialist will only be at school once a month and when she is there she's going to be a hard ass and insist on making Therin eat his lunch (I'd like to see her try and force him to eat!) When she is at the school she will force him to do things. He doesn't respond well to that kind of treatment. A firm but gentle touch works the best for him. If someone was able to explain the reasons behind a partcular activity compliance increases 4 fold.* My original thought was - if it works great! If not he'll dig in his heels and throw a tantrum and give them all the evidence they need to give him an aide. ::Don't flame me yet! ::After it was out of my mouth it took me a bit to realize how callous this attitude is. So - I'm willing to subject my child to this crap to get him the actual assistance he needs. Am I crazy? Mrs. L wants to stop it before it starts. I feel like I'm such a crappy mom for even considering letting them go through with this. My lame ass attempt to walk the middle ground is to find out when this woman is supposed to come and either observe her with Therin or be there to pick up the pieces when she fucks his day up. If this isn't a hoop we must to jump through to get the free and appropriate education that my son is entitled to I wouldn't put him through it. If only I had the patience to homeschool. If only I didn't NEED to keep this full time job so that my family has insurance benefits and food on the table. If only. . . If only. . . But I'm human and I make mistakes. I just hope that I don't screw up my sweet boy.
Good stuff break! Therin is talking so much more about school. Adapative P.E. is great! He loves it. I'd have loved P.E. too if I could pick a friend from class and go to the auditorium to do DDR (Dance Dance Revolution a video game). He will be able to use the sports skills and dance skills later when he wants to interact with friends. He is smiling a lot more and not counting the days (out loud anyway) until Winter Break. At least some thing good came out of the IEP. And I'm learning more about my dark side, the side of me that makes me sick and want to look for something to put my family out of their psychomom induced misery. Oops, that was an awfully short good stuff break. No, I won't do anything stupid but it's hard to stop thoughts like that from popping up. More good stuff quick! Rainbows, puppies, icecream, BG's in the 100's, my sexy hubby, popcorn, slugs! You know, I have had a lot of slug stories in my life? I didn't realize until I posted the pic earlier this month. Now my brother has posted a story about slugs on his website and my friend Jenny was telling me about another slug story from high school . . . wierd. Now I'm really getting off topic. Check out Xenophod's link if you want his side of the slug story.
*(My friend Sam is THE best person to combine all of these elements, gentle, firm, with just the right amount of explanation. She RARELY has problems with Therin. Am I sucking up? No, because it's true. She'd make a great aide. Now I'm sucking up but it's still true.)