I have sort of a crush on my son’s teacher this year. Maybe that’s the wrong word? She’s just such an amazing educator that I want to buy her a present to somehow symbolize my deep feelings of gratitude for her. Without being asked, she makes small changes to help my Mikey have his best day. She seats him with calmer peers to help him stay focused. She’s given him stones to carry in the afternoons when he’s been biting his nails and picking at his face–she felt the stones were both some heavy work for his body and kept his hands occupied so he wouldn’t keep destroying his beautiful skin.
With her help, every day so far has been a “green light” day. Every day! The phone doesn’t ring. My shoulders don’t sit up by my ears. My body isn’t sick with tension as I await pickup time. Instead, I go every day and retrieve a happy child who talks about who he sat with at lunch time and asks me more questions about things he’s learning.
Is this what school is supposed to be like? We’re certainly enjoying a honeymoon period, which our advocate warns this might be. It’s still early in the year and we’re creeping closer to Halloween. Halloween is the touch-point of Mikey’s year. He feels so strongly about Halloween that October is touchy as we lead up to the big and wonderful day and then November is agonizing as we watch the world abruptly abandon Halloween and switch to Christmas prep overnight.
But as I tell Mikey’s teacher this information, far from implying I’m crazy or coddle him too much, this teacher listens carefully and brainstorms ideas for how she can help keep him focused and succeeding at school.
How can I express to this woman what it means for her to hear me, to see my son, and to be there with him every day as he learns new things? It’s probably not ever fully possible, but I’ll certainly be writing her a heartfelt note.
We had our meeting with school. I am so happy to say it went very well, the mood was cordial, and we got some good accommodations in place for Mikey.
The next step is to make sure they are being provided!
He’s going to get sensory breaks. In fact he will get to go jump on a trampoline in the afternoon until he rattles his brains enough to calmly finish his day.
He’s going to get to chew gum all the day long.
He’s going to get some sort of reward system in place to encourage him to complete his work plan, even the non-preferred tasks.
I was dismayed to hear his teacher say he becomes obstinate about the more academic works, preferring the easier activities. I know he is the smartest person in our family. Why doesn’t he want to challenge himself with difficult activities? This will be something we continue to discuss at home.
For now, a great burden has been lifted from me. I don’t have to spend many hours per week approaching this anymore. We are just waiting now for the results of his evaluations over the next month to go from there in developing his IEP.
Mikey starts kindergarten in a few days. He goes to a Montessori school, so this isn’t as huge a deal as first grade will be, since he’s in the same room with the same kids he’s been with for 2 years already. But he’s going to ride the bus this year!
At least in the morning. Cody and I decided the afternoon is too rife with opportunity for disaster–would he get on the wrong bus? Get off at the wrong stop? His medication is worn off in the afternoons and he’s tired from being at school all day. He’s a huge wildcard. No thanks!
School basically operates under a method where he has to demonstrate disaster before they’d do door-to-door busing and since we have this terrible debacle with his diagnosis paperwork, we’re not even sure he would qualify.
But we think he will do just fine and dandy on the bus in the morning. It stops pretty near our house, he’ll climb aboard with all the other kids from our street, and hopefully not deboard until he’s at school. Surely the drivers can keep him aboard the bus until school, right?
I think this taking the bus idea might be more emotional for me than the notion of him starting kindergarten. I mean, it’s the bus! It’s a big deal! So much responsibility! His good friend E from down the street will also be taking the bus, so my fervent hope is that they will sit together near the front and be fine on their grand adventure together. If it’s problematic, I’ll just drive him. But it will be great, right?
Today was Mikey’s third day of school. So far he’s doing very well and we are getting thumbs up at pickup time. We hear tell he’s embracing being a leader and likes having a younger buddy in his classroom that he’s paired with. So I’m very glad about this and excited to hear news of my son doing his best!
And yet we have no 504 plan, no IEP, no protections in place. The school guidance counselor/principal are stalling scheduling a meeting and I can’t figure out why. We have our advocate and people from the superintendent’s office sending daily emails insisting they schedule a meeting with us. We hear only radio silence in return.
And then when I’m there in person everyone is very jovial. I don’t understand. Not that I want interpersonal relations to be tense. I just want people to follow the law and get some paperwork in place for my son.
Our advocate emphasized to us the very, very serious nature of the school’s actions in stalling this meeting. They are out of compliance every day and violating Mikey’s rights. At this point, we are being encouraged to file a claim at the state level with the office for dispute resolutions. We plan to have kids at this school for 12 more years, so we are really hesitant to do this. Our compromise for now is to have our advocate send an email to the team reminding everyone that the school is out of compliance and that we might have to turn to this if we can’t get a meeting.
Why is this all so hard? Surely it benefits everyone to figure out a plan to help Mikey do his best at school.
I’m having a lot of mixed feelings right now. Like, I don’t want anything to do with this school because I’m filled with rage at their behavior. But it’s a good school and we have many parent friends there and what’s the better alternative?
As soon as I feel like I have some breathing space I’m going to start looking at other schools.