A family's story

Posts tagged ‘school struggles’

Ensuring a Good Fit


Somehow, and I’m not exactly sure how we have gotten “here”, Tate is finishing up fifth grade, and we are prepping for middle school. Sixth grade. We are trying to determine how to make middle school successful for him.

We had our IEP meeting. We discussed his strengths. We discussed the challenges he faces. We agreed that his placement is the best option at this point in our district. While I understand the placement, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that I worry that he won’t be challenged academically. He is more intelligent than those standardized tests indicate, that’s for sure. When he gets bored his “maladaptive” behaviors begin…he’s good about communicating non-verbally when the situation isn’t right. I will be monitoring the situation very closely next year, not hesitating to call meetings as needed to keep him on track.

Currently I’m frustrated that it took 6 months for the district to allow our BCBA to come observe the classroom and give some feedback as to what might help Tate. It is also exasperating that no one truly seems to understand that autistics have sensory needs that need to be anticipated and intervention needs to happen prior to a meltdown, not as a reactionary solution after the behavior occurs.

The hard truth is that there really isn’t any program in our district that is a great fit for Tate. We know that the general education setting, even with a 1:1 aide would be too difficult. The instructional program pulls back on adult support, and Tate requires many adult prompts to stay on task and to function in the classroom. Hence, he will be in a restrictive classroom of kids in grades 6-8 who require significant adult intervention. It also has a life-skills slant to it.

I visited the classroom where he’ll be in the fall. The observation itself went smoothly. The teacher is vibrant. She’s respectful. She has fun with her students. Most importantly, she treated each student as a PERSON. Even in my brief observation, it was obvious that the students each bring their own set of learning issues to the classroom. She was able to differentiate her approach towards the students. I was keenly aware of the respect she showed her students. She wanted to be there with them.

Unlike a fitting room with a new pair of jeans, I can’t try each one on for size and comfort. This is somewhat like a stitch fix order. We are making an educated guess at the fit, and when it comes down to it, we hope it fits like a glove..or maybe will work with slight tailoring. Fingers crossed.

Upside to this is that nothing is ever permanent. We can always call another meeting…but in the meantime, I hope I’m not lopping off a huge chunk of length for him that causes Tate to be confined to something that won’t work well in the long run.

Ah, the challenge of parenthood….always wondering if the decision is the best one.

Finding the Funny

Jake has a social studies test tomorrow. Social studies is NOT his “thing”. I don’t understand it. We butt heads a lot while he studies because he fights it every.step.of.the.way. Converseley, when I was in school, I OWNED social studies, history, government.  I loved them. I’m a bit of a history nerd…and I am fascinated with government and the way it should work. 

Jake’s chapter test starts with Christopher Columbus (the watered-down, 4th-grade-friendly version), moves to the different types and branches of our government, and then talks about citizenship, immigrants, and responsibilities and culture. It’s kind of all over the place…and I’m sure the book’s authors had a plan in mind when organizing it the way they did.

Anywho….I have been quizzing Jake since Saturday. It’s been painful and slow. He fights me when I ask him to re-read, and he doesn’t memorize the information easily. I do have to say, though, that with our current events and reading the text through an adult’s perspective, I have really had to watch my snark and watch inserting my opinions.

For instance, when I asked Jake what Columbus’s reason was for his first voyage, Jake responded, “He wanted to take over the world.” You know, technically, the kid is right. It’s obviously more complex than that….but the Europeans DID want to gain as much land as possible and gain riches and such…and hence, take over the world. But, the answer in the book is that Columbus wanted to find a shorter route, by sea, to Asia, because traveling over land took a long time and was very dangerous. I wanted to make a snarky comment about taking what doesn’t belong to us..but I refrained. I just gave him the answer from the book.

Or the time when I asked Jake who is the head of our Executive branch of the government (for federal government). He thought long and hard, and threw out his elementary school principal’s name. (Remember, he struggles with language…so in his mind he was thinking “starts with a “p””.) I said, not your principal. The guy we elect every 4 years is the…..and he mumbled out “President?”. I gave him a high five. I asked what the President’s responsibilities were as the head of our executive branch. Jake’s answer, “Ummm, they talk a lot?” (I would give that kid extra credit points, wouldn’t you???)

Finally, we were discussing citizenship and our responsibilities as citizens. I asked how someone could become a U.S. citizen. Jake’s answer, “They can be born.” True. I asked what the other way of becoming a citizen is. Jake’s answer, “They can take a stupid social studies test and learn about the government.” (Obviously a little of that tween-ish angst is starting to creep in….yay…he’s “typical”. ) I prompted for more…and he said, “They can take a test with a process.” Close. I explained the answer and we moved on to our rights. I asked what types of rights we were guaranteed as U.S. citizens via the Constitution. Jake’s answer, “To pay taxes.” Ba-da-bum. He’ll be here all week, folks.

I explained that paying taxes was a responsibility. I told him that our rights were freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. He perked up when I said, “freedom of speech”. “Mom, freedom of speech. That’s like we go to therapy, right?” Ahh, kid….love ya to pieces..and so grateful for the moments of levity that I could find while dealing with a non-interested kiddo.

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