A family's story

Posts tagged ‘school woes’

The Struggle is Real

In preparation for his transition to middle school, the team and we decided that Tate should have his triennial evaluation with the team that knows him, as well as in an environment that isn’t foreign to him. We opened his domain this week. Now we wait…and my anxiety is spiking.

I am a mess as I start to dig deep to prepare for this transition. Yes, I know Jake is doing just fine in his environment. (Although I still worry about the social aspects for him.) However, Tate is a different child, with different needs and the struggle is real.

My greatest worry is that our district really doesn’t have a place for him. Not that he really has ever clearly fit into the slot that is available to him….but even more so now that we are barreling towards middle school, his needs and the way our district structures things don’t seem to mesh.

First of all, we are a 2 middle school district. Our “home” school has an instructional class and resource. Tate will likely not fit into either of those classes. The other middle school, waaaayyyyy across town has an instructional class that is cross-categorical and provides the students with a more targeted, easily accessible curriculum. I’m not sure if they have a life-skill component…but that might be good for him. My struggle is that there is no available information on any programming for next year.

Tate is capable of learning and doing work that is modified to account for his autism. The issue is that he just is not quite able to attend and sit still and ignore peer behavior. It ALL affects him. He hears the buzzing of the flourescent lights and cannot focus. He sees his friend flipping a pencil and he becomes entranced by the rhythm. Peers, who find work difficult, know that Tate will react and get off topic with just the utterance of a word. So they say, “Fart”quietly to Tate, and Tate is off and running with a script, a giggle, and off topic talk.

I see the math that my older son is doing in his instructional math class in 7th grade. I know what he did as a 6th grader in that class. Tate is so far behind even that material. There are too many problems on a page for him, too. He requires a lot more individualized instruction. The 15 or so kids in Jake’s math class would be too much for Tate. He does better in a smaller class size.

His hormones are starting to rev up. Whereas his older brother is more delayed in the onset of puberty and such, Tate is right on schedule. He is girl crazy, and his body is definitely maturing on schedule. When a cute girl about his age acknowledges him, he  isn’t sure how to handle this, so he gets flustered and starts shouting his version of swear words. We are working on this in therapy, but it is slow coming. I worry that in a self-contained environment, we are just prolonging this process…but I also can’t see how he’s going to function well in a more fully-integrated environment, either.

I put a lot of value into public schools and their programming. In general, our district has done a lot of good for him. However, I have a nagging feeling that we should also be checking out some other options for next year. Outside placement, perhaps. If he’s in district, do they have sensory rooms somewhere for him?

I read about other children on the spectrum who are fully integrated in the classrooms. They are writing paragraphs, they are answering multi-step problems, they are able to stay on task without constant prompting. Maybe Tate isn’t designed for a traditional school setting, or even a more traditional instructional setting.

Being a parent is about always wondering what else can be done to get one’s child where he needs to be. *sigh* Tate does so well in a highly structured, one-to-one setting where he is task-based and can literally check off his tasks to earn his break/reward/etc. Traditional school is not set up that way.

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Not so alone

Yesterday I was overwhelmed. I freaked out. I know that Jake is struggling in school, and I know that last year there had been some discussion around whether he should be placed in a self-contained classroom, so that is where I immediately let my mind go.

Thank you to all who commented and voiced words of support. I know you go this path, too. It isn’t easy…and it’s always a little scary when we can’t see clearly around the bend. 

On my personal Facebook page I wrote the following status: You know, when I was a kid in school, I was always anxious and worried about doing well. I studied and put in the work, and it came together. That stressed feeling does not compare, however, to being a parent of children who struggle in school. Oh, great googily moogily. I think 4th grade is going to do me in…

10 people “liked” it. I had about 9 more comment on it. I’m not alone. Jake is not alone. Tate is not alone. There are moms and kiddos all over the country who are doing this dance. 

Both of my sisters reached out to me. Both let me know that it is going to get better. We’re going to make it through. My one sister was the late bloomer. She struggled during elementary school, and even some parts of high school. And now she’s got an advanced degree. It just clicked. My other sister had attention difficulties. She hated to read. She hated math even more. (She guesses that she likely has a math learning disorder, too.) And she went through an associate’s program, got a good job, and eventually got her bachelor’s degree.

My boys’ routes are not straight. They will not be like the “typical” kids…but I know that they will make it to adulthood and be well-adjusted and successful. I just know it. I believe it. I hope for it. I pray for it. 

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