Tag Archives: Special Education

Two Weeks of School

This week was a better week for my youngest son. He flew through the first three days of the week with flying colors and then started a fit on Thursday morning. He had a bit of one this morning, too.

But I was expecting it. So I didn’t even badger him for an apology. I will do that and brainstorm with him on solutions for it when he is rested and back in his right mind. Saturday afternoon, I assume, after his nap, he ought to be receptive.

The family meeting this week will be about emergency preparedness. We will practice what to do in emergencies (I yell “Time to go for ice cream!” and we get into the car) and talk about stranger danger. I am keeping a close eye on the kids when they are outside,  because meth addicts have been hanging around the neighborhood. It takes all my self control not to grab the neighbor’s kids and take them home with me. I don’t know why you would host meth addicts and let them smoke up in your bathroom when you have two little kids in the house. Another neighbor is watching and will call the police next time. Right now someone is yelling outside and I think every word is the f word. Please, people, every one of these houses has children, and some of them are listening.

I am going to include social stories for discussion at every family meeting. I really want to follow through with that. The boys need to have their social skills explained to them, and I feel like I rely too much on the psychologist and skills therapist and social skills class and don’t do much at home, because I understand my kids and don’t notice what needs work. Maybe if all the skills become familiar in every environment they will sink in.

Middle Child did tell me that his stomach hurts a bit every morning. We discussed his breakfasts and other things he could eat and then we figured out he does not have tummy issues on weekend mornings. I asked him if he was afraid or nervous about going to school and he scoffed at that. I told him his body might be afraid even if he is not. Then he told me his tummy felt upset whenever he was not home. So perhaps the anxiety is comorbid with the PTSD, too, rather than just the autism, as this one is not autistic. If he is experiencing social anxiety or generalized anxiety or a bit of agoraphobia, then that would actually make sense. I figured out long ago that much of his misbehaviour is due to exhaustion and transitions, and if anxiety is in the mix maybe we can treat it and get some results across the board.

Oldest child will be undergoing hypnosis a week from today in a last ditch effort to avoid anxiety meds. I hope middle child never gets it as bad as Oldest Son, who cannot go up the stairs without me.

The school called me this week, and asked me straight off if my oldest was adopted. Why would it matter? This is the second time they have asked me. They asked me so many questions. I called back and asked them, what’s going on, is he disrupting his class? No, they said, “we are observing at this point”. This is where I have problems, because he is the oldest. He is normal to me, I don’t see what others see when they look at him, I see what I know best, I see my own understanding of children. He is the normal one in my opinion and my neurotypical youngest child is the odd one. I took a look into their files and the old school did not send over his evaluations or his brother’s speech testing. If I get those files transferred maybe the school will cheer up at his IQ. I need the psychologist to administer an IQ test that is pertinent to his age, the old school’s test was not an appropriate one, and they probably have him lower than he is. So he tested bright instead of super bright, or whatever they call it. Neon, I would say.

We were supposed to go to the zoo tomorrow. The kids voted to stay home. I will pitch it again for Sunday and we will see. My father has been after me to bring the kids up to his house to go fishing. I am like my kids. I want to stay home and clean and cook and have no obligations to go anywhere. We are hermits at heart.



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Last Day Of School

My son has been quoting Fred (Fred 3: Camp Fred) all week regarding the last day of school. ¨The last day of school is the best day of school.¨

But tonight when I went to turn off his light for bed I found him bawling under the covers, waiting for me to comfort him. He never cries like that unless he has lost computer privileges for a week or more.

He has had the same Special Education teacher for two years. He would have had one more year with her, had I not switched him to a new school that has the best reputation in our area for autistic children. Now, instead of looking forward to seeing her in the fall, he is going to be with people he does not know, in a room he is not familiar with, and he will not be called on to fix all the electronics anymore. They will not have all the same electronics, even.

We have an agreement, that if he does not like his new school after six weeks that I will switch him back. I am going to stick to that.

Why didn’t I give him one more year with her? Because his new school will allow him to attend into middle school, and perhaps by the time he gets to middle school age they will have expanded to all those grades, too. He can go to the same school, with the same people, for years. Smaller classes, focused on the arts and sciences, and insisting on mastery. I don’t think they will be content to pass him along, as so many special education students are.

I really hope he likes it. As much as we both love his special education teacher, and as good as she is for him, I have to try what has worked for so many others. I want to start planning for those years that are often so painful for autistic children. I don’t want all he has learned to be lost in the teen years, due to bullying or being passed. I want his spirit to continue to grow. I don’t want him to cry in the mornings before school, begging me to let him stay home. I want him to be happy.

Nothing makes you second guess your decisions for your children like their tears.

He is learning healthy emotional expression, and having an appropriate and ¨normal¨ reaction. It is a relief to see this sort of emotional intelligence in him. I just wish he did not hurt so much.


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IEPs Can Make You Cry

But I did not.

They said it would take an hour. It took three. Last year they said two hours, when it took four. I left work early, tried to budget enough time for it, and still got caught short. I am glad I get a chance to review it before I sign.

The team we had assembled from the school he is currently in was really caring. It took a long time, but they have begun to understand my son. It seems a shame to take him from an educational team that is trying so hard to accommodate him without coddling him. The special education representative asked me why I was moving him to her school, when it was obvious that I was happy with his team and how they were working with him and providing him with what he needed to the best of their abilities.

This is mostly what I said: He is seven. He has to switch to two more schools by the time he reaches seventh grade if I leave him here. Your school is K-7, and I assume you will be adding middle school by the time he gets there. He does not like change. Transitions regress him horribly. Keeping him in place is smarter.

He has a team of three therapists, a caseworker, a doctor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. More than one of the members of that team has mentioned that your school lessens symptoms in other special needs clients similar to him. He is so strong on his academics and his tech that he does his work effortlessly- after a half hour argument about why he has to do it. Your school is a science academy, the only subject he finds interesting. You teach subject mastery and Singapore math. How many special ed children are passed along from grade to grade? Not at your charter school, not with mastery. I have to try it. If he does not succeed, I send him back to his team, and cherish the time he has left there before graduating to the next school.

The charter school rep seemed a bit daunted by the amount of time he requires out of the mainstream classroom. I reminded her that we just don’t know how he will be when he gets there.

The social worker offered social skills classes three days a week all summer. I passed. My son wants his vacation. I think he has earned it. He has improved tremendously on handwriting, accepting correction, and being present in the class. He no longer escapes into a world in his head. I did not know this. I thought he was still spacing out. So his coping must be improving, and his awareness. Now we just have to keep working towards that Theory of Mind. Once he grasps that, everything should be golden. Anyway, last summer he taught himself to read and I want to see what this summer brings him.

I have a social stories book for him, we started on it this morning. This summer each child has to go through mommy school and learn to help around the house. I think for him I should lean hard on recipes. It will help with his tendency to skip in reading. You just cannot skip recipe lines!

The largest change I made, from experience rather than from diagnosis, was to have teachers and paras introduce themselves to him every day upon meeting him. He does not know faces. He recognizes people only in predictable clothing with the same hairstyle in the same setting. I can teach him tricks to recognize people, but the school can accommodate, too.

One IEP done. Now I need to put a 504 in place for the other son.


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Emails From the Teacher

Middle Son’s teacher sent me an email. The title of which was Hmmmm..

Never a good sign, eh?

So his medication is too low. I cut a pill into four parts and he gets a piece three times a day plus a time release before bed. But still he is interrupting in class and has been often removed to a far table so class can proceed.

No wonder he has been crying that he does not want to go. I have tried him on a higher dose, and he fell asleep. He seems to be in between too high and too low.

Kids already pick on him for his speech issues. He claims they pick on him for his bad pictures, too. He was never interested in drawing. He would rather run about and kick a ball, always.

It breaks my heart. I reminded the school that he has a 504. I gave multiple suggestions.

Oldest son still has not been pulled out of his mainstream room for the entire day, he has to go back and forth three times, and it is a frustrated agony for him. He no longer has to deal with the ¨bully¨ para, though. Thank goodness. It took them nearly two months to follow that suggestion.

I hope the school is going to work with me on Middle Son if he does not make it into the charter school for next fall. It has taken so long to get his self esteem back up to acceptable, and I am going to be devastated if he goes back to hating himself because of his impulse issues and the negative feedback from his school. I wish I could homeschool. Single motherhood doesn’t leave many options, does it?

Seriously I am heartbroken for my boys. I just want them to enjoy their days.


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Charter School, or Not.

Today was my first meeting back with the parent group who the child psychologist had asked to begin a charter school.
She had planned on us having a speaker from a charter school on the same concept about an hour away, but as that did not work out, she asked us to talk about the charter school concept among ourselves instead.
After enduring some small talk about pizza I found a space in the conversation to mention that I am completely on board but limited on time due to my children’s appointments and my own work schedule. I listed what I could contribute, and even gave the time of day that I could donate my time.
Then the other parents started asking questions and I found out the hard way that I was the only one who had spent time researching the charter school laws and guidelines for our state.
Embarrassing. Were they not interested?
I am not an assertive person, and I am not a leader. I don’t even correct people when they mispronounce my name, unless they ask me how to say it. I am not the go-to person on charter schools. I am looking for the one who is going to pull this all together and take all the credit so I can meekly donate my time writing things and making phone calls.
I let another parent know, who has far more contacts than I, and suggested we get an FB page or a forum going on this.
We will see.


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IEP, Anyone?

So I dropped by the school to talk to one of my son’s teachers before school started. No dice, they were out of their rooms and I cannot just wander around looking for them. I called, left a message and sat, tense and working and running my mouth about inane things all day, trying to let off a bit of steam.

I wrote down my points the night before, and again in the morning after I spoke to his county caseworker, to keep it all straight. I have a habit, when emotional, of forgetting what I need to address.

The caseworker offered to do it all for me, but I told her I would pull her in if it came down to a formal meeting. I wanted to give the teacher and the school another chance. I want to work with them, not sue.

She called back during recess. I explained to her how my son does handwriting in OT. I directed her, gently, towards the IEP, where this process is laid out and the supervision of the school Occupational Therapist is mandated. I reminded her, again, that my son does not have a brain that works like mine or hers. She said she had no idea he was so rigid, so black and white. I don’t understand how you can teach autistic kids and not notice this trait in them. I advised her on how to work with this, creating flexibility by going over schedules, schedule changes, calendars, and sequences. It really can be used in your favor, and it can be fun, too. I advised her to switch paras, because his PTSD, once triggered, is going to get in the way of his learning.
The call lasted half an hour. When I got off the phone I was covered in sweat and I felt the sort of relief one has after a good crying jag. Because it was that important, I was that intensely focused on it, and also because I think she is going to try. She is going to remove that para from his lineup. Thank goodness.

I just don’t understand how his teachers do not understand him. I know they are not his mother, they have not lived with him, etc. But my son is so classically autistic that he is an Asperger’s cliche. If you read one accurate book on Asperger’s, you are reading about my son. He fits exactly into the definition and has every trait and characteristic that his Aspie peers do.

Tonight he sat out on swimming class, glad it was dropped. I don’t care about the money. He was happy. He played a video game and talked to me occasionally and leaned up against me the entire time. He told me he loved me. He doesn’t say it as often as his brother and sister, so I know it is not a casual phrase for him. He is fantastic, fascinating. I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to be afraid anymore.


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Bullying from the Bullied – Warning: F Word Ahead

My son made his apology to his classmate today. I asked his teacher to please stop forcing them to sit together, because I don’t want his classmate to suffer one more minute. You cannot force my son to become friends with anyone. If they don’t play Minecraft or keep up on robot technology, he cannot fathom connecting with them, and his fears make him lash out. He is tired of being made fun of by others and he just does not want to make a new friend. You just cannot spark what is not there.

He has been getting in trouble for using Minecraft in his writing exercises. The teachers ask him to write about what he did over the weekend, so he writes down what he did on Minecraft. Because nothing else he has done over the weekend mattered more to him than that. He said the teachers have behaved as if they were exasperated with him for it, and have forbidden him from writing on it any further. He feels disrespected. I am pleased to see he can correctly interpret the gestures and facial expressions and get an impression like that. That is real progress.

In my opinion, cutting off an Aspie kid from their interests is like discounting him as a person. My son IS his interests. I see his interests as a way to tie things in for him. I would have him write out a Minecraft recipe, ingredients plus directions, in addition to what he did over the weekend. They would get far more writing out of him with this method. He would be happy about it, too, and he would color. Getting him to color is tough. Only for Minecraft will he color. He has poor motor skills, weak grip, and is sensitive to the drag on paper. Coloring would be good.

He admitted today, after daycare in his therapist’s office, that something was definitely wrong at school. He hates one of his paraprofessionals. She forces him to write, and makes it unpleasant. It is already unpleasant, I suppose, because the drag on paper is so annoying to him that it might be painful. So I can see why she feels as if she had to force him. But it is called Handwriting Without Tears for a reason.

I put into his IEP last year that he be allowed to use marker, gel pens, anything smooth. Dry erase boards, too. So I do not know why they are insisting on pencil. When he does not write correctly or resists, the para snatches the paper away and tells him she will wait for him to be ready, which means he could miss recess. I have requested that he not be punished for having learning disabilities. I have requested that the school allow him the only time he has there for social interaction. I asked them not to use recess as a tool. He is afraid of her, he says. He is too afraid of her to negotiate his tasks with her. He points to things and refuses to talk when she is teaching him, for fear of her anger.

I have to call the school tomorrow. I want to cry. I cannot believe that these special education professionals are treating him like he is reluctant or resistant, still, after I explained to them that HE IS AUTISTIC. He is autistic. He has auditory dysfunction and sensory processing disorder. He cannot stand a toilet flushing or the feel of pencil but he does not notice lacerations on his hands until the blood stains something he likes. His brain does not work like theirs. Can they not extend him a bit of empathy, some sympathy for having to deal with all this noise and light and bustle all day? I think he is doing great.

This is how you get him to write:
You give him the paper and you either have him trace or write something down. Then you give him silly putty for three minutes so he can work the kinks out of his fingers. Then you have him write something else. Then you time him on how fast he can crawl under the table and around the chairs and high five him. Then you have him write something else. Then you give him a sticker to put on his paper and tell him what letters or words look great. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than being stood over and scolded for resisting what hurts you? I can make it about twenty words before the pain starts in my own hands if I am writing without a keyboard, so I can literally feel his pain.

How the living fuck these people do not know this, I have no idea. He is autistic, not naughty. They are professionals. They took a kid with PTSD and ASD and SPD and they fucking made him afraid of speaking out. A disabled kid. I am calling tomorrow and I am going to be polite at first, just so that when I fucking ream them out in person in my schoolmarm clothes and huge glasses that they are completely caught off guard and the message sinks into their heads. MY SON IS NOT BAD HE IS DIFFERENT AND I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO SHUT HIM UP.
Kudos to me for using the F word. I have been working on that, hopefully I don’t come back and edit it out.


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