Musings from an Orthodox Jewish work at home mom of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Archive for the ‘Integrated class’ Category

Emailing the teachers

I’ve been emailing the teachers.  DAILY.  There’s ALWAYS something.  ALWAYS.  There’s a fine line between trying to get your child what she needs and being a royal pain in the ass.  I’m not hiring a lawyer and getting all fighty with the school, but I’ve crossed the line into pain in the assville.  Am I going too far?  Being too nice?  Being too wishy washy?  Not standing up enough for my kid?  Demanding too much?  I need a crystal ball.

Here’s today’s installment— Wilma’s IEP is a week from today and they don’t want to move her to a special needs classroom and they don’t want to move her out of the school to a special school— but they also don’t want to give her a one on one aide….. something’s gotta give.  Her first report card was almost all N’s (needs improvement).  She spends more time in the resource room than in the classroom.

 

hi there!

Let’s keep her in pullups for one more day if you don’t mind— she’s still “cleaning out” with all the laxatives and doing her business a lot more than normal.  Next week we’ll go back to underpants and hope for the best.  🙂

We need to pick her up on Fridays starting tomorrow— this time of year with the Jewish Sabbath coming in so early, we can’t wait for the bus— it’s just cuts it close timewise.  ______ and I worked it out that I’ll be picking up “Fred” and he’ll be picking up “Wilma”.  So don’t put her on the bus on Fridays until further notice, thanks.

She’s having a really rough time for a good half the day these days— lots of zeros for morning (yesterday) OR afternoon (today) and I understand she’s spending a lot of time in the resource room.  I’m afraid that it’s self-perpetuating……..  she screams or tantrums, she gets to spend one on one time with Mrs M or Miss M, and then she doesn’t want to go back to class.  She craves the one on one attention and though she loves her classmates, she prefers the lower stress environment of one on one work—- I see this at Sunday school, as I’m the twins’ aide since they truly can’t handle a neurotypical program without some help.  I give her lots of one on one attention but I keep it related to what’s happening in class and keep her in the room.  I really feel like she’s needing more of a one on one aide in order for her to be able to get out of kindergarten what I need her to get—– the ability to participate as much as possible WITH her classmates.  I understand she missed lunch with her friends at least once (it may or may not be true but she told me she ate lunch in the resource room?)  and I know she’s missing specials (music at least) sometimes.

I know, of course, that money is always an issue with public school but are you in agreement that she needs more one on one assistance so that she may remain IN the classroom?   I know she gets lots of support with you, Mrs M, and with M across the hall, but since you’re also in charge of 1st and 2nd graders too you’re unable to be with her in the classroom as much as she may need.  Perhaps there are certain points during the day that are most challenging for Wilma and she could have Miss M IN the class with her during those times?  So when she screams, she’s not removed TO Mrs M or Miss M but rather she is being coached IN the room to work through her issues and continue with the group?  I HATE to see her skipping specials, or recess, or lunch WITH the group.

We’ll talk more at the IEP, but I just wanted to put that out there.  Fred also has an intervention specialist and intervention specialist aide at his school, but they are IN the classroom with him because they are ONLY assigned to kindergarteners in that classroom and I know that makes a difference for him.  Instead of needing to go to help and be removed from the situation, help is right there.

I think you’re all wonderful and doing a great job, and doing what you can, but I just wonder if there’s a way we can be doing it differently?   I’d love some clarification at the IEP as to when Mrs M or Miss M are working WITH Wilma in the classroom as opposed to Wilma being removed to the resource room.

Thanks so much.

I know I can be a pain (thanks for putting up with me!!)   but if we can’t move her to a special needs classroom and we can’t move her out of the school to an autism school, we need a way for her report card not to have mostly N’s on it and for her to be in the room 99.999% of the time WITH the group.

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Kindergarten Placement? Still No Answer

My mom friends of neurotypical kids have all chosen their kids’ schools for next year.  My mom friends of MOST special needs kids have all had their kids placed for next year, whether in a Jewish school with a one on one aide, or in an appropriate public school class.

Our school district has autism units, multi-handicapped rooms, mainstream classrooms, and not much else.  For preschool, Wilma was in an integrated program with half neurotypical kids and half special needs kids.  That’s truly where she should remain for kindergarten.  From what I’m gathering, there hasn’t been a program like that for kindergarteners.  Special needs kids were either mainstreamable, or put in an autism unit or MH class.  So they’ve been thinking about and talking about starting a program like that for kindergarteners.  But it depends on money.  And enrollment.  And the price of tea in China.  Meanwhile, it’s mid May and though my twins have finished the ETR process, there has been no transition meeting yet and no placement.  I got an email today in response to my (rather pushy) email saying that they’re still deciding, nothing is certain yet.  It’s mid May.

Fred was in all three programs during the course of preschool— an MH class, then an integrated class (where he proceeded to bite EVERY student in the room over the course of the year, then an autism unit.  If he’s placed in an autism unit, he’ll be one of the higher functioning kids— he’s verbal and toilet training.  If he’s placed in an integrated class, he’s going to need a lot of extra assistance to make sure the structure of the class doesn’t completely overwhelm him (more than a few kids in the room and he turns into the tazmanian devil when his personal space is threatened).  I’m okay with them putting him in an integrated class to try it out.  Problem is that *IF* they do create this new integrated kindergarten in our district, it may just be ONE class, forcing Fred and Wilma to be in the same room.  That’s a WHOLEEEE other blog post.  However, I’m willing to try.  I just want to KNOW already.  Where are you putting my kids.  WHO will their teachers be.  What school?  What hours?  I want to know for certain that next year I won’t be meeting the school bus outside four times a day and that both kids will be in the same school for the same hours if at all possible.  I’ve paid my dues and deserve that so much.

I’ve thought about giving up on public school altogether and having them attend the Jewish day school with one on one aides but quite frankly, neither twin is ready for that.  Neither twin is ready to be THE special needs outcast in a class of neurotypical kids, with all the comments and stares that entails.  Ultimately, that IS my goal, but we’re just not there yet.  They still need the extra support of having lots of kids like them in their space.  My kids have a lot more in common with non Jewish kids with autism than they do with neurotypical Jewish kids.   Plus, with toilet training still at stake, I’m not sure most one on one aides will want to be dealing with constant potty accidents.  Public school HAS to.  Public school is mandated by the IEP and if they say my kids are high functioning enough to be kept within district and not sent out to special autism schools than by golly, they need to meet their needs.  Public school has OT, PT, and speech therapy right on site.  Public school has a sensory room, special educators, and a staff used to dealing with all types of special needs.

So for a while longer I sit patiently and when friends ask me where my kids are going in the fall I admit that I have NO idea.

The update:  BOTH twins are on abilify.  Wilma’s tantrums have decreased in length and frequency but are still mighty intense.  She no longer throws plates/cups/silverware at dinner.  She is willing to leave the house in the mornings without her brother.  When I ask her to do something she sometimes complies.  HUGE improvement.  For #1, she stays dry as long as I tell her when to go potty.  If I keep my mouth shut, she wets herself happily.  For #2, she is still 100% untrained and it always lands in the underpants.  I buy lots of extra underpants and hey– she never does #2 at school.  Fred’s abilify dose needs to be tweaked still— it tends to wear off before dinnertime so dinner is a challenge with him– it’s as if he’s DONE being asked to comply.  We ask him to eat, he turns on the tears—  how dare we require anything of him at the ungodly hour of 6:00 pm.  Instead of biting, he’s now licking.  He has no stranger anxiety anymore— at the playground he picks random mothers, climbs into their laps, and licks them on the lips.  That’s when I whisper that my kid has autism, and I see how understanding people can be.

The biggest update:  I am now able to take both twins to certain playgrounds by myself.  No huge double meltdowns at certain playgrounds anymore now that we’re on abilify.  We have a standing playdate every Monday morning with another mom and her autistic three year old and neurotypical four year old.  So far we have a nice budding friendship forming.

Teaching Independence

LOVING THIS POST from Four Plus an Angel.  I’m starting to think about kindergarten.  This fall.  New teachers.  A new school.  Will their teachers be flexible?  Understanding?  Push them to their potential?

The ease with which my son has learned his times tables (you’re supposed to learn those in second grade— not preschool, right?) is the ease with which my friends’ kids have learned to dress themselves (nope, we’re not even close).  The ease with which my daughter has learned all of her state capitals (GREAT memorization skills!) is the ease with which my friends’ kids have learned to use the toilet.  (sure, my kids are partially trained, but we’re still at least a year away from them self initiating a bathroom visit, undressing, doing their business, re-dressing, washing hands without prompts, and going back to their activity.)

My kids have incredible skills in very specific areas, but their adaptive skills are so incredibly weak I worry daily about their independence.  Taking off shoes?  Putting on shoes?  That’s a kindergarten skill?  Kindergarten is coming this fall—- oy, we’re in trouble.  Fred’s shoes are velcro and EVERYTIME I ask him to take them off by himself he screams, whines, and says “can you HELLLLLPPP ME?”.  We’re at least a year from him being able to put them ON, heaven forbid have shoes with TIES!

It’s been recommended that both twins join a newly forming integrated kindergarten group.  Integrated.  It’s my big wish for them, and my big fear.  I WANT them to have neurotypical models.   On the other hand, I want them to fit in.    This year, Fred has been in an autism unit.  He’s been the most “high functioning” student in the class—- toilet training, verbal, academically advanced.  Next year, all of a sudden, most of his classmates will be developmentally…. on target?  And he’ll be one of if not THE most developmentally delayed in the class.  Unable to share and take turns appropriately.  Unable to toilet himself.  Unable to dress himself— including that crazy kindergarten skill:  SHOES.  This year, Wilma HAS been in an integrated class so I’m less concerned about her.  She already has experience being light years behind her friends in adaptive skills.  I wish she cared!

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