Friday, December 21, 2007

School rhymes with fool.

If you've been following, you'll know that I've been in the beginnings of a battle with Jaysen's school. He doesn't feel safe going to school because he's always getting in trouble lately. It's not a safe place for him to be himself. The hardest part of that is- I have to send him there. I have to listen to him saying he doesn't want to go to school "they're mean to me". I can't reassure him by telling him "it's going to be okay", because it probably won't be. I can't tell him that "school is fun", because it's not for him. I can't tell him "today will be good", because chances are, it won't. But things are changing. Here's the update so far:

We met last week to discuss a behavior plan. At the beginning of the meeting, I asked for some time to present about my son, because if they don't understand him, they won't be able to create an accurate behavior plan for him. The psychologist (who was leading the meeting) said she would allow me 15 minutes at the end of the meeting, as the meeting was only scheduled to be an hour long. I protested that it wasn't enough time, was told that was the offer, and the meeting proceeded.

The social worker (bless her heart) stopped the psychologist, and said that she feels that it's important to hear what I have to say, as I was correct that the information will help shape an effective plan. I was floored. I was so touched that someone was taking my feelings into consideration, that I started to cry. I quickly pulled myself together, and proceeded to talk for two hours about Jaysen's strengths, as well as areas of concern.

I talked a lot about his sensory needs, and how they may affect his performance in the classroom. I talked about his anxiety. I talked about the impact his expressive and receptive language disorders have on comprehension. I talked about routines. I talked about his lack of self-regulation. I talked about Tourette. I talked...about everything.

The team was great. They listened and asked questions. Almost everyone took notes, and asked me to repeat things while they frantically wrote.

I presented. They countered. At one point when I asked for a parapro, they offered to hire a substitute teacher for three days, and Jaysen's teacher could be his para for those days. Unacceptable. How flippin' confusing would that be? Not to mention that three days is nowhere near long enough.

The outcome was that Jaysen's teacher would receive training in ASD. While she was receiving training, Jaysen would have a 30-day parapro to help him re-focus on school, and give a chance for his teacher to build a relationship back up with him. The para will be there to execute the BIP, support the teacher's instruction, support for Jaysen, collect data, and bridge anxiety before it becomes a meltdown.

He will also receive a sensory diet.

Communication will be daily, in the form of a checklist- I disagreed with the original checklist, as it only stated if Jaysen's day was good/bad on a scale of 1-5. That's not enough information for me. We're still disagreeing on what information needs to be conveyed. I feel they don't take into consideration the aspects of the ASD, and one of my biggest concerns is that Jaysen is getting consequences for behaviors that are manifested from the ASD. Large scale behaviors will be communicated on an ABC sheet as they happen.

His time in the Resource Room will be increased. He will have a teacher assigned to him during "the unexpected" (fire drills, emergency situations, etc). Data is being studied, and a BIP will be in place when the school reconvenes after break. It will be a token-program, where Jaysen can earn tokens toward computer time in the Resource Room.

I had them note that I neither agree with, nor condone the use of CPI holds on my son. If CPI is to be used, it will warrant further discussion.

We are still in the discussion process, and it's going to be rough. This district does not like to accommodate if it costs money. However, his Team is awesome. I feel that if the whole Team is in agreement, the district administrators may have to just follow suit.

I saw the social worker yesterday when I dropped Jaysen off- I thanked her for allowing me the time to present about him. Her words to me were "Oh my God. You are awesome. You presented Jaysen so well, and he is lucky to have such a great mom." I love this woman. She totally supported me when I needed it most, and I really feel that she is behind me. She also has two Autistic children, so she knows how important it is from a Mom's point of view.

For the rest of them? I am becoming a huge pain in the ass. I'm done playing around. They actually think that I have a lawyer...I'm flattered! That means I'm doing my job.

Yesterday, I put a request in for another IEP. They said that they could just do an addendum, and we wouldn't have to call a whole new IEP. This morning, I sent out an e-mail saying that if they're going to do an addendum, these are the things I want added- and listed off all of the things we discussed at the meeting. Since most of them require discussion on their part, I left the call up to them if they want the IEP to reconvene.

It's exhausting, but I have a positive feeling about this. I don't think the fight is over quite yet, but they know that I'm not going to be pushed around and just accept the minimum for my son. Once I got some things straight, the pieces just started falling in place. I researched my ass off, and it is making a huge difference.

I'm sure I'll have some choice e-mails when I return to work on Monday! Can't wait to share...

A big thing that I'm trying to figure out now is, how to enforce the teacher's responsibilities. As I stated previously, my biggest concern was that Jaysen is misunderstood, that raises his anxiety, and it leads to a meltdown, which leads to punishment. Everyone agreed. How can I be sure that if the teacher says he was aggressive, that he wasn't provoked like in the past? There are many things that the teacher has done that escalate his behavior, and I don't think it's fair for Jaysen to be reprimanded for reacting to his environment. I'll have to think on this one really hard.

Suggestions are welcome!


Casdok said...

Well done for being a pain in the arse!!!
Seriously though, it sounds as though you have paved the way for an excellent start in the schools education.
Research i have also found makes a huge difference. They actually realise we are not just over protective parents but we actually know what we are talking about!

Marla said...

I am glad this went well. I became angry reading that they were limiting your time in discussing your son. You never should feel pressured to rush through an IEP meeting. You don't have to sign at the end either. If they won't take the time to listen you don't have to sign. They do not like it when a parent won't sign. I have had to do that a few times and boy were they upset. But, are the parent and it is your meeting, not just theirs.

It is so hard when your child is not "clicking" with a teacher. We have had this problem twice and it made for very tough years. Will he have a different teacher next year?

A sensory diet is great. These were always helpful for my daughter, when they actually follwed through with them.

Sounds like you are on the right track. Give yourself a special treat for your hard work!

A Bishops wife said...

I am sorry and not trying to sound crass, but this sounds like a frig'n nightmare!

This sounds almost identical to Juniors IEP before he went to kindergarten and alot like my daily struggles at school with Noddy.
He was always in "trouble" and bad behavior and detentions for things he could not help like playing with windows, playing in toilets and splashing water and meltdowns. He was always being picked on and when he defended himself, he was in trouble.

I was "in to it" with everyone all the time and I was always getting notes and phone calls--I hated it!

Tootsie TumTum said...

You are the best mom!!!!

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

I am seething on your behalf. My son's school also views him as trouble because they don't understand him or how to work with him. And they say they are perfectly willing to work with us -- as long as working with us means no extra money or effort expended by them! Argh!