Monday, August 30, 2010

One week later

It's hard to believe a week has gone by since the boys kicked into high gear with school. Ignatius is having what seems like his best school year yet. Eighth grade suits him very nicely. He is taking Eighth Grade Algebra at Bloomington CCHS, and he is really on top of his studies so far. He will receive Confirmation in November. Today he finally learned to ride a bike. His friends helped him out at a weekend sleepover.

Max began his formal schooling this week, as you might recall from my previous post. Scott is making intermittent visits to his school to see him in action and get a grasp of his day. He has met with the principal as well as the teacher, and we have asked for a meeting to re-evaluate his IEP. We met with his PLAY consultant this week, and she offered data that helped us with the decision to push for more time in the gen ed classroom. The principal told Scott they would do whatever we wanted. It's their first year with the program, so I think he's fairly flexible with seeing how things run.

I am typing this at midnight, as I lie here with a racing mind that needs to just sleep! I have worked on school stuff (my own) pretty much all weekend. Still lots to do before my week is fully ready, but I have somewhat of a grasp on things. Or so I think! Here's to the possibilities a new week brings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Max Begins a New School - A Diary of Sorts

Thursday, August 19: I attend an Open House.  I speak briefly to the general education Kindergarten teacher assigned to my son.  She explains that another teacher, his special education teacher, is a person with whom I should speak.  I do so, relaying that I am quite nervous about this experience.  She answers a good deal of my questions, and I go to the general education room, believing that it is there where I will receive both pertinent and important information about my son's experience with what I thought would be Kindergarten. 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: I check and recheck, much in Walter Paul OCD fashion, the school website.  Students and parents in Kindergarten are to attend the first day of school for an hour.  Last names A-M come from 8:30 - 9:30.  Last names N-Z come from 10:00-11:00.  Sunday night: Generic voicemail from principal says Kindergarteners should come at 8:30, causing a small heart attack when I listen to it Monday morning.

Monday, August 23: Max has a restless sleep, and wakes up with the rash he had for a while blazing across his trunk.  Doctor is called.  I call school (a little frantic) in response to the voicemail from last night and am reassured that he is to come at 10:00.

I take Max to get his favorite breakfast and take some photos.  He's a happy little dude.  We get to school.  We have our first day of school cards ready to give to the teachers.  We see the general education teacher.  The special education room's door is closed and the room appears empty, but we are early, so no worries.  The general education teacher, along with the other Kindergarten teachers, are welcoming their classes and parents with various activities. Max and I sit in the common area watching.  A kind teacher, not any of Max's, gives us some books to read while we wait.

At around 9:55, I am brazen enough to open the door to the special education classroom.  No one is in there, but there are traces that a class has been here.  At 10:00 I go to the office.  At this point, I am getting visibly upset, as all of the other parents and kids have started their happy little scavenger hunts throughout the school.  The office assures me that the teacher will be there.  I assist Max in upacking his box of supplies in a manner that it seems like others in the room have done.  My mind wonders why, exactly he, too could not have been doing a scavenger hunt with me.

At 10:10, I go back to the office, this time, unable to hold back tears.  The principal takes me to find my son's teacher and class on the playground for recess.  They had expected us at 8:30, and "wondered where we were," but the office told them we would be there at 10.  (Yes, when we were told to be there.  You are following.)  I later wonder why one of the aides did not stay back in the room and wait for Max, since they were told he would be there at 10. We re-enter the room, where we are given a card and told he needs to put his name on it and decorate it for a magnet.  I speak briefly with the teacher and a bit more with the aides.  I await direction.  None is provided.  It appears that students are playing with different games and blocks, so Max and I follow suit.  I am told that he is cute and is "so dressed up" for school.

At 11:00, students line up at the door as if they have been doing this for quite some time.  We leave for Max's doctor appointment.

And this was the experience of my son's first day of Kindergarten.  I left out the crying I did almost all day, feeling majorly robbed of what should have been a welcoming, organized, fun morning.  I did not expect for it to be perfect.  I know better.  But I did expect for it to be MUCH different.

You see, Unit 5 keeps talking about "inclusion."  I am wondering what their operating definition is of that term.  Mine is that the students are with a general education teacher until and unless they have severe needs that make that impossible.  Their version seems to be that his general education experience will be rendered to PE, music, art, and lunch, with some centers with the other students as the teachers see fit.

Mind you, I am wounded, but not broken.  Once I can get through my feelings of sheer disappointment, we will have clarity about how this year will go in the LEAST restrictive environment for my son. 

What I did not mention was the stress of the last week with getting my own room together and getting ready for my own students as well as getting my own children ready for their new experiences.  But that's a whole other story.

On an up note, Max was diagnosed with hives and is taking an antihistamine, which seems to be giving him some relief.  A friend shared that her son had pityriasis rosea, and, when she saw Max's photo, she thought it looked familiar to what her son had.  When she described it, the symptoms sounded REALLY familiar.  Either way, he looks a little less like a leper!  Yeah!  And, when all is said and done, he did not know that his experience with his first day of Kindergarten should have been any different than what it was.  I sure did, though.

Tomorrow is his first full day without me.  There was a darling little boy named Caden in his room.  Caden likes foraging for acorns at recess.  He's a pretty cool little dude, and quite chatty.  He enjoyed my rendition of If You Take a Mouse to School.  I think he and Max will be great friends.  :)  And now, I must wrap my brain around what, exactly, tomorrow will look like in my own classroom.

On a very high note, much earlier than expected, my student teacher got to be in charge of the room today.  She did a great job planning, and I can't wait to hear more about how everything flowed.  I am SO grateful to have her!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Same difference

When Max was just six weeks old, I remember looking at him the night before going back to work and just crying. It was too soon. I had no control over the fact that he had to go somewhere before he was truly ready. Now, five years later, I am looking at my five year old, not so sure he's ready for what's about to start. Again, this is what we can do right now. I don't want to hold him back, I just hope I am not sending him in to "school" before he's really ready. I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Doctors and such

Last Thursday, we met with April from the P.L.A.Y. Project, and we have more goals to build upon with Max:

1. In his play, increase the interactive range of affects and emotions when problem solving (like bad acting). 
2. Use pretend play and drama. Use the stuffed animals for fighting.  Make sure ideas are guiding the play.  Enter Max's ideas through his make believe world as a character in his drama using words and actions together.
3. Play tag.  Freeze tag.  Simple motor play.  Simple rules.

We also received a write up of all the pre-assessments they had done prior to accepting us into the program.  They will compare this baseline information with re-assessment at the end of our time together.

All of these goals build upon things we do a little of, but we need to step things up a bit.  There was a lot April talked about that we can do in play that will prepare him for how to handle peer interactions in school.

Yesterday, Max had his Kindergarten physical.  Silly me, I thought, for the first time with either of our kids, that I would let Scott take him.  I was still scarred from holding him down when they tried to find a vein for his bloodwork, I figured I had earned a time off just this once.  I tried my best to prep Scott, but he did let his guard down in between rounds of shots.  Max actually bent a needle in his leg when he slapped it about.  Also, Scott and Dr. Farinas had some conversation regarding vaccinations, and Max came home WITHOUT having been given his MMR.

{pause to let that sink in}

Let me give you more of the story.  I was at Zumba and Scott called from the Dr.s office and suddenly told me he wasn't sure about the vaccines.  To which I replied, "Just get the vaccines.  The vaccines did not cause the autism.  Plus he HAS autism!"  So, I call back an hour later to hear about the bent needle and the chat he and the good doctor had.  Apparently Dr. F. wasn't that big of a fan of giving so many vaccines at one time.  That did not help the situation.  So now we have this form stating we knew about the vaccines but we opted out of one of them.  Eventually, I am sending someone's A$$ back to the doctor's office for the MMR. 

I am not an irrational person.  Had we discussed this prior to the eleventh hour, and decided it together, it may have turned out the same way.  It's just that, when I relinquish control to someone else, and this happens, it sets me back on the whole delegation thing.  Plus, if he gets measles, mumps, or reubella, someone better be ready to bail me out of jail.  Enough said?

So today's appointment was seeing the eye doctor for Kindergarten.  Amazing, isn't it?  Dentist, physician, optometrist...all before Kindergarten.  I believed, again, that others had control of this, and I would take a back seat to the professionals.  I didn't need to control the situation.

{pause to let that sink in}

Well, I should have known when the assistant pulled up a string of letters and asked Max what letters he could see that I was in for trouble.  Or when they had him look at a picture of a clown and several other things and asked him what he saw... yes, again, I needed to step in and instruct.  The doctor herself was not bad.  Just a few cues from me, and she got it.  Have my son, whose expressive language is a year delayed, POINT to a PICTURE of what he sees.  Voila!  20/20.  It was a rocky start, though.

So, now Max is set for Kindergarten, as far as the medical/paperwork requirements are concerned.  Just one, big roller coaster ride.  Lots of hills.  I need to scream at the top of my lungs more, though.  I think that's what's missing...

The Commencement of Learning

It's that time of year.  Shown below is Ignatius' pile of clothes for school that no longer fit him... all purchased within the 2009-2010 school year, mind you.

We shall be doing some shopping soon.

Another pic is of Max's school social story.  This was sent to us from Northpoint Elementary earlier in the summer.  He loves having it read over and over.  During the summer, he was not interested in even hearing the word "school."  We changed our wording to "Kindergarten," and now he is VERY excited.  We shall see what happens when the first day rolls around.  Hopefully, he will not sense my own nervousness.  I shall practice.