Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Navigating the School System When Your Child Has #Asperger's or #Autism

I am venturing into dangerous territory these days.....but I am feeling overwhelmed about how I should be approaching Jack's issues at school.  I do not want to be a parent that the teacher dreads talking to, I don't want to be a parent bully.  But I am worried that my son is not getting all of the services he needs at school.  It just doesn't seem right to me that a child with what I would consider substantial fine motor deficits is only seen 3 times a MONTH at school.  And gets 30 minutes of special education a day when he can't sit still in his chair for 5 minutes. 

I volunteered in Jack's class yesterday- it was actually a very pleasant experience in terms of meeting the other kids and watching Jack handle the transitions fairly well, even with mommy there as a distractor.  He went from center to center without complaint, even though he wasn't coming to mine right away.  When he came to mine he talked to me A LOT, but didn't completely monopolize my time.  That being said, yesterday morning was the time that the OT was working with him, so she was moving from center to center with him and redirecting his attention frequently.  And she is good.  The three times a month that she gets to see him.  Which is not nearly enough.  But even after she left, Jack sat on the rug with his lunchbag waiting to go to the cafeteria, he did not get up and come over to me, until his name was called for lunch, at which time he came up and threw his arms around me and said "mommy, I sure am gonna miss you!".  What a kid.  I met the three little boys he is constantly talking about- they seem like nice kids, and they had quite a lot to say to me about Jack, which was so cute, and comforting at the same time.  They like him too!

The rough part- the "center" I was running involved cutting pictures out of magazines and writing the names of the objects (all starting with S).  So I helped every child in the class spell and write these words.  And I saw where Jack's handwriting is in comparison to every other child in that class.  I can't even explain it.  All of these letters were formed completely independently, from dictation.  Half the time we need to hold Jack's hand still and force him to form the letters.  His strength is not good either, it is a constant struggle to get him to push down with enough force to really make his writing readable.  In class he has the short pencil, a special grip, and a slanted work top to try and help him gain more control.  And the OT was drawing a box where each letter should be in order to try and help him keep his writing somewhat straight, as he is usually all over the place.  Did it help?  I think so.  But what good does this really do for an hour once a week????  How is he supposed to retain these techniques when they are done so sporadically?  I am sure the special educator tries to reinforce as much as she can, but there is no room for much individualized attention in a class of 24 5 years olds, so how can his teacher be expected to do these things regularly?  The school psychologist is coming to observe Jack on Thursday, and I am hopeful that there will be some recommendations for changes, or in other words, increased services.  If there are not, then mommy may have to request an IEP meeting.  It's October, there is plenty of time to get a good system in place for Jack.  And telling me that they are "short on aides" is just not going to cut it with me.  If there is a need, they need to fill it.  End of discussion.

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely right! There are so many kids like your two that deserve intervention and support. But there are SO FEW professionals like OT, speech, etc. I know in the school district closest to me, we have 13 schools and only 4 OT's (and this is actually NOT bad!)! I know this because I considered doing my OT fieldwork in that school district. Also, I got a good taste of being a school based OT through my fieldwork. It's not uncommon for school based OT's to work in multiple schools in the same school district- part time or full time, during each week.