Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Changes and New Teachers

Well, when you have a child who suddenly dashes out the door, the best thing to do is call the school in blind panic and in tears, with words like, "bolting", "safety issue", and "HELP!!!!"

OK, seriously, we had one of those meetings I was hoping would never happen today: the one where you discuss what to do with your child who fright-flights into the street when his school is 1. new and 2. near a major highway. The school doesn't like these meetings, either, because it screams "potential safety hazard". One thing school folks want, it's safe kids.

I spent the morning basically crying, reading over the letters I had from the OT and thinking about the incidents we've had this summer, and basically panicking. BUt I pulled myself together, got the children fed, and headed out with both in tow to the school to get this sorted out. I want Joey's first real day at this school to be far better than anything he had over the summer. And I want him to be safe from Day One.

I learned a few things. For one, Joey has been moved to a different set of teachers than we originally planned. I really liked them. They asked a lot of good questions, made a lot of intelligent and meaningful comments, and kept things really focused on what would be best for Joey from all fronts- academically, socially, and of course, his safety. Ms. H came, mostly because I begged her to help because I wanted somebody I really trusted in that room. This is not an issue to tackle in a room full of people you don't know, I can tell you. She always says very important things, and sticks with realities. This is good, because our admin person was a little bit panicked and suggesting we put Joey in self-contained sped, with much "assurances" that kids "don't get bored here." But the reality is that the vast majority of kids in self-contained environments need them not just for behavior, but for academics; and being a restrictive environment, Joey wouldn't have the kind of contact with his peers that he had before. In other words, it would be a serious setback, and mark a major regression.

But then, this is a major regression and serious setback.

However, the committee prevailed in understanding that Joey's needs and goals were best met in the inclusion environment, so another solution had to be considered: a 1:1 aide. The admin tore out of the room when she knew this was the direction we were heading. An aide in this system is like the Holy Grail of Services (we already have the other Holy Grail of Services: ESY). Aides are expensive, and you can't just stick anybody in a classroom and call them a para; and a 1:1 needs to click with the student. It is something they avoid like the plague.

However, sometimes you find yourself here, with the aide on the table. Joey needs to be in a safe environment, and that means he needs a lifeguard in the room- one dedicated to his needs, and ready to take to their heels when he does. We should have the paperwork done in the next 48 hours.

Next on the agenda was showing joey his classrooms. We visited his homeroom (which will be the resource room, since we are now thinking the cafeteria isn't a safe place for him to eat, with all the noise). Ms. J runs that room, and served as one of his aides over the summer. She seems cool, and I think she's the case manager now. Then we went for a stroll with one of his new teachers, saw her classroom, as well as the regular-ed teacher's classroom (they split the class up for small groups; the rooms are across the hall from each other). He started getting antsy, so we decided it was time to go. The teacher was walking us back to the office (where the main door is), getting to know Joey a little. I stopped to thank Ms. J, and ran into another teacher I knew and said hello.

I glanced down the hall to the boys and the teacher, now well ahead of me. Beyond them was a stairwell, and a glass door to the outside. They were framed there, haloed silhouettes against the bright sunlight streaming through the glass into the much darker hall. And there was frozen moment, when you know what you are seeing is not right. The teacher was calling his name. He was headed to that door. Andy called. I called. He was still moving toward the door. I broke into a run. So did the teacher- right out of her shoes, to run the faster.

I must say, I was totally impressed. She caught him outside. But it was the speed and efficiency of her action that really caught my eye. She wasted no time- she was already on the move when she called his name. She knew she couldn't run in those shoes, and they were off her feet without breaking stride. The instant understanding of the danger, and the effort made to help my child were, to be honest, stunning.

I hope we all expect each and every teacher who works with our children to do no less; yet I remain grateful to see caring in action. Combined with the efforts and comments she put forth in the meeting, I say we're in for a good year, or at least have the best opportunity possible for one. I think we're oriented now.


Christine said...

Wow! This brought tears to my eyes. Tears because I've been in the position before to be scared for the safety of my child and thankful that someone was able to move quickly. I'm glad to hear that Joey will get the aide and that he is, hopefully, in the right place with the right teacher! I hope you both have an awesome year!!

kristi said...

Wow, that is very scary.

Stimey said...

You know what? How great that this happened when you could see it instead of it happening when you could only hear about it. I'm sure it helps you feel a little safer.

I'm glad that Joey is going to get the help he needs. Good for you and his team for making sure it happens. Good, good, good luck to him.

farmwifetwo said...

Our home PS is on a county highway. They fenced the primary end for him when he started Gr 1 - they wouldn't put out enough support and he got bored. They attempted afternoon recess last year of having him on the other side... bust.

A year ago I would have agreed about spec ed... then I got a report card that said "Class Participation - N", and a teacher we weren't suppose to have that has barely taught and spent half that time off on Mat Leave.

We are off to Spec Ed this year. We go to town, not the village. It is a 35min bus ride, school board pays for it. MY request, not theirs, he is welcome at the village school and still entitled to 1:1 support there... But it wasn't enough. Ironically, per the testing he's academically above the slow learners (verbal, LD's, one Down's, one severe ASD (mine), all verbal (except mine), 7 kids, 2 EA's and one teacher) for that class, so again he will be taught 1:1 by the EA at times. Why is he going?? The verbal apraxia... she teaches speech and comprehension every day. It is her #1 thing they do, is sit in a circle and discuss what they did last night and what they hope to do today. Mine has had difficulty both times he's been there with this session... but they're going to deal with that... shorten his time with them, spend some time with the EA learning/reading etc.

We'll be there anywhere from 1 to 3 years (4 to 6).

NOW... for the best part. They were going to send him to the primary area. The fence ran from midpt along the back, the road side (primary) to the parking lot. Out 1:1 with the EA. Still is going with the EA he's a runner... BUT, the school board bought him a fence again... It now runs 100% around the school... I had no idea... but they built it this summer... WOW!!!

Niksmom said...

I'm loving his teacher already! (Yes, N's paras are still wearing sandals when they *know* he's a flight risk. *sigh*)

I'm hopeful that things will work out great for Joey and the year will be a good one.

And FW2, this might sound strange...if you were Buddah, I'd want to rub your belly for luck! That's awesome about the fence. Peace of mind. Whew.

mommy~dearest said...

Jaysen was a "flight risk" as well, and this literally gave me goosebumps. I also agree, how awesome that you were there to pick up on all the little things- the story could have been just relayed "the teacher ran after him", when there is clearly so much more.