Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mommy Knows Best

I went to the Principal's office today for the first time since I was in kindergarten and got in trouble for jumping in a puddle during recess.  OK, so really it was a conference room, but still.  John and I met with the principal and the assistant principal of Jack's school this afternoon.

 This meeting was the result of my visit to Jack's classroom last week, when I saw multiple things that really really concerned me.  I emailed the assistant principal, who is the administrator that participated in Jack's last IEP meeting and she had us in within a week for the meeting. When you have the ear of someone who can really help your child, you feel quite a bit of pressure to make sure you get everything out.  I wanted to make sure I painted a full picture for her of Jack, and of my worries.

So I started briefly at the beginning, I talked about the fact that I have known that Jack has these needs for a very long time and feel like he is a child who could slip right through the cracks; that I don't feel like he has ever had enough services; that he is crying everyday before school; that he is coming home with his work blank daily; that a boy in his class tells him to go away and stop talking every single time he opens his mouth and Jack happens to be seated right next to him.  I'm sure there was more, but I can't think of it right now.  I cautioned John before he came with me that I wasn't going to be holding back in this meeting, that it might be hard for him to hear all of these issues rapid fire.  He hadn't been able to attend the last IEP meeting and most of the communication with Jack's teacher and providers is through me.  So sometimes I think it can be quite a shock to step into a situation like this in the middle of the storm....but he did great.  Thanks for coming honey, I'm really glad you did.

The principal began her statement to me by saying that they have quite a few kids with aspergers at Jack's school.  She also said that they were astounded when they saw the IEP that followed him from his pre-K and how few services he was receiving- that they knew that has to change.  She told us about a little boy who was in a similar situation to Jack's several years ago who is now in all honors classes in fifth grade.  She was quick to assure us that she thinks it is appropriate for Jack to remain in this school, that he doesn't need special placement at this time.  I appreciated her saying that to me.  I do completely believe that Jack is capable of achieving at that high of a level academically.  She stated that one of the things that made a huge difference for this child was the ability to type all of his work either on a laptop or an ipad.  That his fine motor deficits were holding him back in so many ways- making his work slower, making him frustrated, causing him to lose focus.  And I can see that, although I certainly don't think fine motor is Jack's only issue (nor does she).  She did say that if we get Jack to a point where he is very proficient on the ipad that it can replace writing in school almost completely.  Handwriting is just not as important as it used to be, so the school has become very flexible about this.  Now I just have to find the funds for this among all of our expenses....sigh

They already had a new schedule typed up for Jack.  Before we even spoke.  He now has adult assistance basically for every minute of the day.  It remains a bit piece meal in that it is not the same individual all day.  But I understand that this is something they are scrambling to get into place.  The principal made me aware that she has spoken with the head of Special Ed for the county about the increase the school has had in need and has requested that they audit the school's needs vs the staff they are allotted.  She is trying to get a dedicated aid for Jack.  Mama can take a bit of a deep breath.  Also, she is going to ask the teacher to separate Jack from the child who telling him to go away all the time- Jack has enough challenges, he doesn't need someone putting him down all day when he is struggling to begin with!

Jack will have someone with him for lunch, for recess, for all academic areas.  It sounds like moving from class to class he will be ushered by the teacher, yes, kindergartners CHANGE CLASSES for subjects these days.  What the heck is that??? I didn't do that until sixth grade!  They organized the help by periods of the day instead of subjects which makes a lot of sense since the schedule seems to change daily.  He will also attend a social skills class weekly.

OK, I have to say this.  As his mother, I get that people around us may not always recognize the depth of Jack's issues.  Because he's chatty, because there are times (especially when he's in a situation where the ratio of adults to children is like 4:1) when he acts like a completely neurotypical kid, because up until now, he has often been able to compensate for his challenges because he's brilliant.  But mommy has known.  Mommy has known that he cannot be put into strange unfamiliar situations without his parents, and even then it's questionable.  Mommy has known better than to take him out in a crowd without major preparation, or somewhere where there is loud unpredictable music, or somewhere there are bugs.  These are all major triggers for Jack.  There have been many many times when family and friends have not seemed to understand why John and I have held back from certain situations, or seemed incredibly tense or uncomfortable in a particular venue. 


Our child does not handle changing situations the way other children do.  He experiences all noises, movements, touch at a far more intense level than other children do.  And mommy has known.  It affects every aspect of his life, and it is our job, as his parents to protect him from situations that are too much for him.  There is no one else who knows him as well as we do.  And we have not been wrong.  We were never wrong.  I was never wrong.  I was doing the right thing for my baby. He can't follow his daily routine at school without constant adult assistance, if one fire alarm goes off it  causes him to wear headphones for a month,he can't sit down to complete one worksheet without being prompted approximately 20 times (this is not an exaggeration, at all).  His teacher is overwhelmed and she's been a teacher for 30 something years.  I said this to my mom earlier, and I feel kinda bad about it, but I feel vindicated.  I don't want Jack to have problems, but if he does, and I know about it, I want it acknowledged and addressed.  I don't want it minimized, ignored, or treated as bad behavior.  And it's happening!  After almost 6 years of me feeling like no one believes me, or understands how truly difficult this has been, it's happening.  Just thinking about that I feel my whole body relax just a notch.  My baby is going to get what he needs.  Because I won't stop until he does.  And I have been and will continue to do the right thing for him.  Ahhh...clarity

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