Sunday, May 23, 2010

The New School Waltz

Our little school system is set up with a split upper and lower elementary. What this means for most kids is that the older elementary kids- third, fourth, and fifth graders- are not housed with the wee ones (K-2), so that programming and instruction can be more focused on the needs of the two age groups. What it means for us is we have to start from scratch trying to claw for the services Joey needs, with a whole new group of people with a whole new attitude towards special education, special ed students, and what services should entail.

And so far, I am not impressed.

We had a separate meeting for ESY, partly because there was this huge gap called August, five weeks of black hole in service that would be a disaster for Joey. And what I learned was that our new crew believes my son's education is less important that waxing the floors. Really.

Not. Good.

I've listened to these folks at the Sped Parent meetings. The impression I get there is no better. There is a sense of dividing and isolating cases instead of a broader view of service in which the children's services and strengths are interconnected and interwoven for an effective educational netting- or better yet, fabric. You can't have social skills for one. The problem is I know they have at least three, likely more. Can't do this for one, can't do that for one. If I hear it again, I'm going to stand up and say, "You have one that needs this. Not wants. Needs. Figure it out." I'm starting to look up the numbers for lawyers again. I suspect I will need one in the next, oh, three years. And it is likely to be sooner rather than later. Better to go ahead and put in a retainer, rather than have to come up with one in a super-hurry.

As I left the meeting, the new administrator made the usual "Everything is going to be fine" speech. I think she meant well. However, if she thinks she's building any trust here, she is sadly mistaken. When your concern is about having to have a whole month to strip the floors, rather than being concerned about the needs of your students- even just one student, if you must- there is seriously nothing trustworthy there.

I'm going to have to start seeing some serious effort and creative support soon if we're to get any trust going on this side. And folks, it's looking like its going to be a long three years ahead.


Niksmom said...

Is there any possibilty of getting *some* ESY with, maybe, home services? Good luck! Thinking good thoughts for you.

farmwifetwo said...

I as of Fri officially have little boy in his new classroom.... Except for general crap, his stuff hasn't been too hard to get b/c he is fully autistic.

It's the one's like your boys and my eldest... the one's they look at who can walk and talk and say "what do you mean we need to do"...

My cut-off seems to be Gr 3 with both of mine. With my eldest, I had the right to call Behavioural Services - without school signing off - and have the room assessed. They don't like that... so, services (Ont PPM 140 - ABA in school's - ie. social and behavioural skills teaching for him) have gone in instead of the "well he's coping", "his academics are average". B/c he's average, even though I had paperwork from the child psych they didn't tell the psychometrist he was autistic, that he had been non-verbal, about his prev difficulties in school... I did... He decided coping wasn't good enough either... neither did the SLP who ran a full speech and language assessment afterwards... Seems we have poor oral/visual recall to go along with a great long term memory... geez, wonder why we have difficuly in English class and do well in Social studies etc...

Can you go over heads to the school board?? I did the same at Xmas with younger bro but in his case I called spec ed and triggered his IPRC (identification, placement and review committee...) stuff to move him out.

As I told the new teacher at the new school... I expect bumps. It's the lies, the blindsiding, the "we can't do that"... I have no use for anymore.

Joeymom said...

Part of the point of the ESY is to have school schedule, so home service wouldn't be considered very effective. :P

I think part of our frustration is that Joey's communication disorder remains serious, and you'd think by now people would know people with autism need a regular schedule, and that leaving them to flap in the wind for three months is a Bad Idea. But they don't. Or probably more precisely, they don't want to.

Niksmom said...

Are you able to identify the ways in which the omission of ESY would directly impact Joey's educational progress? That's going to be the "nut" to crack with school.

We, of course, KNOW that it will impact his education/access to FAPE. Maybe that's the ticket...the ACCESS will be lessened bc of impaired social and communication skills. That, in turn, will cause him to fall further behind his peers. No matter what gains he's making, if he's not making them commensurate to his peers they're actually losses. (e.g., if he's a full year behind his peers in whatever area and they all progress a full grade level and he only progresses 1/2 a grade level, he's really behind 1 1/2 levels now.)

FW2, your use of "more fully autistic" struck my funny bone. I assume you meant "more obviously autistic?" Kind of like being pregnant, isn't it? You either ARE or ARE NOT; then there's all the shades in between of how far along, etc. It just kind of made me giggle.

Glad you've been able to get your boys what they need. I hope Joeymom and I are able to do the same.

farmwifetwo said...

Niksmom - thanks for the giggle. Can I blame the heat.... I think we missed spring and went straight to summer...

Over the years I've had a time explaining my eldest. The current teachers and admin, either weren't in the school or had no interaction with him when he was using 3 word sentences and "code" words "Grandma/Grandpa/white/orange house". Now they see this child - a head shorter than his peers but still in Gr 5 - who does well in school and they don't understand why they are still doing what they are doing.... Yet, if they stop now... we go back in time again.

I hope - fingers crossed - to remove all IEP's and dx's at Gr 8. He is doing that well and coming along that quickly.

His bro is 100% vocal noise, finger wringing, flapping, barely speaking autistic. Yet.... there's very much a brain in there, and we have the testing to prove it. Which is why the push to go into a slow learners style class, 6 kids (takes 10), 2 EA's (support) and a teacher that listening to her, listening around the village/town, watching the children in her classroom when we went and saw the room.... truly gets "when you meet one child with autism... you meet only one child with autism". And he'll be the only non-verbal autistic in there.

Which is why I get annoyed when Harold wants to claim that my son's intelligence is his IQ test... which makes him severly MR.. not the rest of the testing which showed an child who is learning, and holding his own... I am hoping we are one of those that when the child reaches puberty we get words... the psychometrist says if we can get him to talk easier, and catch up his comprehension... Who knows how far he will go. But you have to put in the foundation, before you build the house... Which I hope we are doing.

Niksmom said...

FW2, GAHG!! Don't get me started on the evils of IQ testing for nonverbals. I suspect your younger and my Nik have much in common. Which is why I have great trepidation over returning him to school in the fall. *sigh*

farmwifetwo said...


The only person that cares about IQ's that I know of is Mr Doherty.

The psychometrist, the pediatrician, the special ed guy, everyone... has told me to ignore it and wanted to know "what does he know". The answers for a child of 8.5yrs, and the baby of his Gr 3 class...
He reads - Gr 3.5
He comprehends - Gr 1.5
Math - K

Social/Self Help - age 5 to 6.

A lot more than an IQ score of 60'ish which is a Dev Level of age 2 to 3.

Club 166 said...

Yes, the whole "We can't turn the school system upside down just for your child gets tiring. You know a) it's not just for your child, and b) sorry, it's the law, and your problem, not mine.

The above being said, you can only do what you can. For us, it means swimming classes and "camp" over the summer (we are lucky to have a local district that provides an aide at camp for no additional charge-woo hoo!). Summer is also filled with small doses of academics every day, to try and keep what was learned during the previous year, and lay a base for the material coming up in the coming year.

Good luck!