Saturday, June 27, 2009

Random Thought

As we progress through summer and prepare for Andy to go into kindergarden (already???) and Joey into second grade, I being to wonder about schools and systems and how kids are expected to learn. I've been carefully "reminded" how much more "serious" second grade will be, as we near that all-important SOL year of Third Grade.

Joey's kindergarden was just wonderful. He had wonderfully talented teachers, and really bounded forward in development and learning. This past year we made strides, but nothing like kindergarden. Its a amazing what a little support and a loving, caring environment can do, an active and engaging environment.

Why can't all the rest of the grades be like kindergarden?

Why can they be active, making information hands-on and providing context and relevancy? Teach the math, then get the kids to "play store" in "centers" (maybe even have a real class shop as they get older!) Why sit behind a desk all day? They'll have time for that when they are grown and working. Get them up, get them pretending to be caterpillars, get them thinking about history and what it was like to live in the past (and appreciate our progress forward!), get them doing things outside the box!

How much more fun would everybody have at school if the abstract things were then immediately put to use?

I bet there are schools like that. I'll be happy to hear all about them in the comments. Too many kids spend too much time sitting at desks not understanding why what they are supposed to be learning is in any way important to them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More Sign, More Speech

My kids go through "periods" with TV shows. For a few weeks, they will only watch Pinky Dinky Doo and Magic School Bus. Then those are set aside, and we will only watch Little Bear or Caillou. A few weeks later, any besides, Max and Ruby, or Oswald is instantly nixxed. Some movies get put into the rotation (we've been watching a lot of Toy Story II lately). I'm kind of that way about music, where I want a song over and over for a few days, then won't want it for a while.

The last couple of days, Signing Time has returned to the rotation. This is great, because whenever we have more sign, we get more speech. This time, Joey has been proudly showing me his signs, and the boys are singing some of the songs. Andy was all excited to see Rachel signing "candy" again. Joey has been chattier, even after school.

More chat is always a good thing. Even if it devolves into chanting, its all processing and language, and that means we're prepping for a leap forward. It also suggests that his ESY program is going well; when Joey is depressed, he is not interested in moving forward and learning things. So once again, we send thanks to Alex, Leah, Rachel, and Hopkins. Looking forward to good days ahead!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Common Sense Prevails in the Supreme Court

That's right: if the school denies you special education, and you prove independently that your kid needs special education support and thus put your kid in a private school so s/he can have an appropriate education, you can be reimbursed by the school for the tuition.

Go ahead and go read about it. It's fabulous. Then come back.

Are you back? Good.

Now, I am not a legal analyst, but this looks like good news to me. What do I think it means? I think it means:

All students, not just students with special needs according to a district's definition of "disability", have a right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Students with disabilities who are struggling with academic and life function skills (such as social skills), whether they meet a district's strict definition of a disability (which around here requires a 25% delay. 24%, and you're screwed) or not, still have the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Schools will want to be considering the quality of their in-house special ed services and making sure they have services available that are appropriate for the kids in their system, because that's usually cheaper than private school tuition.

Schools need to possibly reconsider their definition of "disability" and how they screen for kids (Child Find), to be sure kids who have disabilities which effect their ability to learn and function receive the support they need to have a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Why is this such good news for us? Because it fills in some of cracks too many kids fall through, and that we are scared stiff Andy might fall through (well, kids like Andy, but who don't have active parents like us making sure he doesn't fall through anything, even if I have to homeschool him myself, by God). Those borderline cases where districts deny service, but the kids are floundering and need support.

This kind of ruling also stitches up a loophole of schools getting around providing service by simply claiming a child is ineligible for service, through such means as failing to do appropriate screening (intentionally or not), having overly restrictive definitions of disability, or having issues with categorizing a child (such as Virginia's change in the "developmental delay" category, from max age 8 to max age 6... where do they think those two years' worth of kids are going to be categorized?). It seems the thought was if a child was deemed ineligible by the district, that was it. Well, no, it isn't it- if I can prove my child needs support, even if your screening process kicks him out of the system, my child still has his or her right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, which still needs to be considered and addressed.

And that, folks, is a huge victory or the rights of children in this country, and their right to an education, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and for us, Article VIII of teh Constitution of Virginia).

New To Autism? Read this

Please, please, please, go over to Squidalicious and read this review of Jenny McCarthy's book if you are even thinking about reading it. And check out the really nice bibliography at the bottom. Seriously, folks, get some real information. Pop biomed is not only inappropriate, it can be dangerous.

I mean, I love Ray Bradbury and Ursula LeGuinn, but I'm not about to base any physics articles on The Martian Chronicles or The Left Hand of Darkness.

Don't get caught in negativity and pop-culture abilism. Get real information from real scientists, doctors, and trained specialists. That minefield of people is quite enough to try to navigate without the likes of celebrities obscuring the way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Overheard at our house

“Look, Joey, I’m home for 5 o’clock!”

“No, it isn’t five o’clock. It is four fifty-five. So you have to go away until five o’clock.”


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Because it is true.

New design for the shop. Come by and check it out, and let me know if there is a product you want that I don't have it pasted onto.