Monday, 19 November 2012

Just Another Day....

Of thinking "if I can just get through today".  And I did.

First up was Jack's parent teacher conference.  I received an updated IEP on Friday and was shocked when it said he was progressing sufficiently.  Ummm....wait a minute, this is not what a million email conversations have indicated.  Well apparently he is "progressing sufficiently" DESPITE all of this.  AKA the kid is brilliant...duh, I could have told you that.  This doesn't change the current issues that we are dealing with.  I was impressed by all of the adaptive tools they have in place- a wiggle seat, a lap pad, a slanted writing surface.  They are also using the weighted pencil.  He is viewed positively by his peers despite his interruptions in class and the headphones that he continues to wear on his ears all day every day.  We talked about strategies to slowly wean him from this- setting a timer for how long he can wear them.  I advise against one that rings for obvious reasons.  Ha.  But seriously, it is amazing how traumatized he was by the smoke detector going off at home.  He noticed the visual fire alarms at school for the hearing impaired and has become obsessed with them.  We went to the mall and a movie yesterday and he pointed out every single one to me and asked if they were going to go off.  We have a lot of work to do on this.  The school board advocate apparently did acknowledge that he needs more services.  They have assigned an aide to him for 30 minutes a day during the most crucial work he does.  Yes I said crucial, yes he is in kindergarten.  Sigh.  So the issue at hand is that this is still not enough, per the teacher's report, and not only that, this is something being "granted" to him "for now".  If another child enters the school with a behavioral issue or more needs, they will reallocate these services. The reason?  They are not written into his IEP.  Next step- guess who has to call the IEP meeting?  Yours truly.  His next one isn't scheduled until the end of February and that is too long to wait.  I have been dreading this one.  I need to do my research, know our rights, etc.  I told her I will do it, but would like to get my almost 3 year old started in his new program first.  She and the special educator were present for the conference- it last almost an hour, which seems like they spent quite a long time with me- we got 15 minutes tops last year.  The teacher was really going through the "back door"  procedures with me, talking about red tape, etc.  I could tell that the special educator was getting a titch annoyed.  She is a little green- just started at this school in September.  Jack's teacher turned to her and said something along the lines of "I know this is your area, but I have been at this for 25 years and I know what I'm doing.  AND I have been through this myself as a parent."  OK, how do I keep getting this lucky???  No wonder she has been so awesome!  She has been on the other side of that table advocating for her child who needed extra help.  Makes total sense now.

So with that plan in place and the knowledge that despite all of his challenges he is progressing, I headed back to work.  At the end of the day my mom came to watch Jack so that I could take Nathan to his new school for "orientation".  He fell asleep on the way over and slept through much of the meeting.  I felt really bad about this and kept trying to wake him, but he was OUT.  When I finally got him up at the end of the meeting he would go no where near the new teacher--- with time I guess.  We talked about the routine, etc and the teacher wanted to know a bit more about Nathan.  In general it went very smoothly and they were very receptive to his dietary restrictions, etc.  Seems like a good program- makes me a little sad that we are going from a 1:1 ratio to a 1:2-3 ratio of teacher to student, but it was bound to happen.  It sounds like the days of "drills" are over, this will be a different approach.  And not all of the children in the program are on the spectrum, they are all developmentally delayed, but there will be a wider range of skills and abilities.  I guess I just have the same concerns that any parent would have when sending their kid to a new school, multiplied a bit by the fact that I am afraid he won't be able to express his needs.  He will be 1 on 1 with a aide on the bus, so that is reassuring.  That being said, he gets picked up at 8:35am and school doesn't start until 9:10.  And school ends at 11:50 and he isn't scheduled to be dropped off until 12:35.  That's a really long bus ride for a little guy.  The next few weeks are going to be a huge transition for him.  I am feeling lucky that our sitter will stick around for now, despite losing lots of hours of work.  She is trying to sell her house and move closer to her grandkids, so it doesn't really make sense for her to look for a new job right now.  This will be a very good thing for Nate- 1 big change at a time.  OK, I vow that this was our last kid meeting until January.  Only thing I can think of is Nate's 3 year check up.  Piece of cake.

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